As expected, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission on Tuesday night unanimously approved Inter Miami’s plans to redevelop the Lockhart Stadium site into a new 18,000-seat stadium and 50,000 square-foot training facility.
The commission began negotiations with the team’s ownership group — including David Beckham and Jorge Mas — in March and in April gave the team permission to demolish the existing Lockhart Stadium and adjacent Fort Lauderdale Stadium, which it did in May. Now that the proposal has been officially ratified, construction can begin on the $60 million project.
The stadium, scheduled to be completed for the March 2020 start of the Major League Soccer season, will serve as Inter Miami’s home field for two years while its permanent stadium at Miami Freedom Park is built just east of Miami International Airport.
Lockhart was the home of South Florida’s first MLS team, the Miami Fusion, which folded in 2001.
The Fort Lauderdale soccer complex will also house Inter Miami’s youth development academy, a minor-league team, and include sports fields, park space and a playground for community use. High school soccer and football teams will have access to the field at least 24 days per year.
Under the agreement approved Tuesday, Inter Miami has naming rights for all areas of the site “provided such name shall not be in bad taste or offensive to the city’s image.” The team also will operate concessions and pay for maintenance of the stadium and the training facility, which includes a weight room, locker rooms, classrooms and a dining hall.
Neither Beckham nor his co-owners were present at Tuesday’s meeting.
Marlins Park, Hard Rock Stadium and FIU had all been considered as temporary venues, but Inter Miami officials opted for Lockhart.
“At the end of the day, none of those sites were the right fit for the fan and sponsor experience we are looking for, and scheduling was an issue,” Mas said in March. “Lockhart is the best solution. By creating our own stadium, we have a ton of flexibility, don’t have to adapt to anyone’s building and we can have whatever sponsors we choose. This will be a good-looking stadium that will be perfect for the first two years and to host other games, too. It doesn’t have the guts of a regular stadium, but we will create a great soccer-fan experience in a plaza with booths and tents and pop-ups.”
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean J. Trantalis said: “The agreement with Inter Miami CF is the beginning of an exciting future for Fort Lauderdale that brings more recreation and sports opportunities to residents with the soccer group shouldering the cost. Together we greatly expand soccer opportunities to our youth and obtain a signature public park while also gaining an important role in the future of professional soccer in America.”