FORT LAUDERDALE (March 20. 2019) —
David Beckham’s Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise Inter Miami have announced plans to play their first two seasons at a new stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
The privately-funded, US$60 million project calls for an 18,000-seater venue to be constructed on the current site of the abandoned Lockhart Stadium, which is 32 miles north of Miami.
The team would play there for at least the 2020 and 2021 MLS seasons before using the site to house their training complex, United Soccer League (USL) team and academy, as well as park space for the general public.
“This is an exciting day because I’ve said from day one, and that was a long time ago, that it’s all about the academy and the kids in this great city,” Beckham told the media.
“It’s a visionary idea, it’s the perfect location and it’s one we feel will give kids a chance to live their dreams. This won’t just be for those who play for Inter Miami but also for kids who just want to enjoy this great game and play a safe sport in a safe place.”
Lockhart Stadium was previously home to Miami Fusion, the city’s first MLS team, before the franchise went bust in 2001. It has also housed the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Florida Atlantic University’s football team. However, the venue has not been used at all in recent years, and will be demolished to build the new stadium to be ready to host Inter Miami in 2020.
“We’re going to build a new stadium there,” added Jorge Mas, another owner of the Miami franchise. “It’s not a refurbishment of Lockhart. It will be a new stadium for a USL team and a soccer-centric academy. We’ll be able to host tournaments and other games there.”
Inter Miami hope to eventually move into a stadium on the current site of Melreese Country Club, a city-owned golf club which the franchise’s ownership group is aiming to transform into Miami Freedom Park, which would include the team’s 25,000-seater home.
It has been known for some time that the team’s permanent stadium will not be ready for their inaugural season in 2020. The Florida club had considered Marlins Park, home of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Miami Marlins, and Hard Rock Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League (NFL) play, among the options for a temporary home, but have now opted for the abandoned Lockhart Stadium.