Miami, FL (Wednesday February 20, 2019) – Kenneth Russo –
Another potential site for the temporary home of Inter Miami CF has emerged, according to information discovered via social media feeds. On February 12, 2019, officials from the MLS club, Dennis Sprenkle, the Vice-President of HR and Administration, and Jurgen Mainka, Director of Commercial, met with the President of Saint Thomas University, David A. Armstrong, J.D. at the team’s Miami offices.
Inter Miami CF is in need of securing a home for its inaugural season beginning in March 2020, and in all likelihood for the 2021 season as well. The Club had been in talks with MLB’s Miami Marlins to play at Marlins Park, but the two sides could not reach an accord. They also reportedly have talked to RSE Ventures about leasing Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, but again without an agreement being struck.
The third choice for a temporary home has usually focused on Riccardo Silva Stadium at Florida International University. Located in the western part of Miami-Dade County, that site also has its complications, the primary obstacle being that Inter Miami CF would be the third tenant, and would be required to adjust its home dates to fit in with FIU Football and the Miami Football Club, a non division team owned in part by Silva which played in the now defunct NASL. Also, the location is less-than-ideal, as it is far from the urban core of Miami.
At the meeting with St. Thomas on February 12, the two sides talked about potential partnerships with the University and with the St. Thomas University Sports Administration Program.
Founded in 1961 as Biscayne College by the order of Augustinian Friars, the private Catholic institution achieved university status in 1984, operates one of only two accredited Catholic law schools south of Washington, D.C., and offers multiple degrees at the bachelor and master level. It has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,280, and its current campus size is 140 acres, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report survey of colleges and universities. The university listed 28 acres of land for sale in August 2018. The sale of the land, located along the Palmetto Expressway, would be used to strengthen its endowment and finance strategic projects, according to President David A. Armstrong.
St. Thomas University has recently added men’s American Football to its university sports program, with games beginning in Fall 2019, but has yet to announce where it will play those home games. Presently, there is no football stadium on the campus. It is also entirely possible that St. Thomas is interested in using the eventual Miami Freedom Park Stadium. No one has ever mentioned Inter Miami CF sharing its home with other teams, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented either. Within MLS, Toronto FC has allowed the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts to use BMO Field; Los Angeles Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson California is the temporary home of the relocated NFL Chargers; FC Dallas’ home is used for American Football.
Geographically, St. Thomas’ location in northern Miami-Dade County make it an ideal site for Inter Miami CF, as the location is easily accessible by car from both Miami and Broward County. The university also has experience in hosting a soccer club, having been the home grounds of the aforementioned Miami FC while the club dropped down to play in the NPSL. St. Thomas controls a large amount of land and has the room necessary to construct a football stadium for its newly launched university team.
If there is anything to the possibility of constructing a temporary home at St. Thomas, plans would have to occur quickly. The time factor gives rise to another potential: the use of a modular stadium. This has been a popular solution for USL teams. For example, Phoenix Rising FC have constructed a modular stadium for its home games, while building the club’s fanbase and developing plans for a permanent stadium as part of its very strong expansion bid to Major League Soccer. Phoenix’ modular stadium has 6,000 seats, and building one for Inter Miami CF would require at least 15,000 to be a viable option and to meet MLS standards.
Their semi-permanent design allow modular stadiums to be installed at a fraction of the price of a traditional stadium while maintaining safety, comfort, and aesthetics. They can be installed, removed, expanded or modified as needed. St. Thomas could then expand and gradually modify it into a permanent football and soccer stadium.
Jorge Mas, the managing owner of Inter Miami CF has mentioned the possibility of a third site as the club’s temporary home, but has not officially mentioned FIU:
Might Inter Miami CF be able to create a partnership with the school and construct a modular stadium to use for its first two seasons? It is an interesting prospect.
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