Chicago Fire and Village of Bridgeview Reach Agreement on Lease Buyout

Miami, Fla. June 4, 2019

The Chicago Fire will pay the Village of Bridgeview $60.5 million to break its SeatGeek Stadium lease, per a local report, paving the way for a move to Soldier Field in the short term — and a new home for the MLS team potentially down the road.

The Bridgeview Village Board unanimously agreed to the terms of a buyout of the lease yesterday, providing financial certainty to both the team and the village. Under the terms of the agreement, the Fire will pay $10 million upfront and the balance paid off over the next 15 years. In addition, the team will pay $5 million annually for the use of the stadium for practices. From the Des Plaines Valley News:

Mayor Steve Landek called the agreement “a fair deal for everybody.”

“We like to see the Fire unleash its potential out in the whole market. I think it’s good for the Fire. I think it’s good for Bridgeview. Most of all, it relieves any of our angst over the stadium debt.

“Sometimes, we live and die with the success of the Fire. If they have a good year, we have a good year. If they have a bad year, we all are suffering. This, I think, will be a good idea for everybody,” Landek said.

The agreement, according to Bridgeview officials, allows for SeatGeek Stadium debt to be paid off without the need for additional property taxes. In addition, there’s potentially more revenue down the road if the Fire develops a new stadium within 35 miles of SeatGeek Stadium.

For the Fire, the lease buyout frees the team to make both short-term and new long-term plans. Short term, the team is likely to commit to Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, until a new stadium is prepped. The former Michael Reese Hospital site on Lake Shore Drive, just south of McCormick Place, has been under city ownership since it was purchased as part of a failed bid for the 2016 Olympics. It has not been redeveloped thus far, but a new Fire stadium could be part of the solution. Chicago Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman, who is resigning from his post, mentioned a potential Fire stadium during an interview on Monday. However, he labeled it a “long-term idea” and cautioned that any future redevelopment of the site will be complex, likely requiring multiple uses. Sounds like the sort of large-scale development challenge MLS officials love.

The Fire has struggled at the gate in recent years. This season the Fire has drawn just 11,298 fans per match to date, last in the MLS.

Image courtesy Chicago Fire.

Dismissal With Prejudice of Lawsuit against City and Inter Miami CF

Miami, Fla. (Wednesday 8 May 2019)

In a footnote to the story covered on Russo Law and Soccer, the action by FXE Futbol against the City of Fort Lauderdale and Inter Miami CF is officially finished.

Court records obtained (shown above) show that FXE Futbol, through its attorney, filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal in the matter.

The dismissal is “with prejudice,” meaning that the case cannot be refiled.

A link to the prior story is here:

Inter Miami is now moving ahead with its plans for its new Lockhart Stadium, Training Centre and Academy. An official ceremony was held today at the site in Fort Lauderdale.

Inter Miami CF Hold Ceremony To Mark Start of Revitalization of Lockhart – This is What This Project Is About.

“Demolition Day” paid tribute to the past while remaining squarely focused on the future of “fútbol” in South Florida.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Wednesday May 8, 2019)

A South Florida morning at its finest – bright, sunny skies, light breezes and warm temperatures – provided the perfect backdrop to an official ceremony by Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami to mark the beginning of the transformation of Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. The site will be the permanent home of the Inter Academy, the club Training Centre, and home of its USL affiliated club. A new 18,000 seat stadium will be built as part of a park with a soccer focus. In addition to being home for the yet-to-be-named USL club, the stadium will be the temporary home for Inter Miami CF during its first two seasons in Major League Soccer, before moving to Miami Freedom Park once it is ready.

Television personality and fútbol commentator Fernando Fiore was the host of the ceremony and was his vibrant and humorous self. He recalled his many visits to Lockhart Stadium over the years, and called it a “pleasure” to return. He pulled out his ticket to the inaugural Miami Fusion game from Sunday, March 15, 1998 – Section 3, Row 15, Seat 98. “Please Jorge, make sure I have a seat by that one when we open the new one,” he joked.

Supporters of the new club were also very visible, with all three of the official Inter Miami Supporters Groups on hand: Vice City 1896, Southern Legion and The Siege. They sang, waved flags, banged drums, and set off the ubiquitous Inter Miami pink smoke into the air, announcing their presence and laying claim to the site.

Inter Miami CF Managing Owner Jorge Mas was one of the speakers at the event. Charismatic as always, he wanted to stress what the project stands for:

“This is about the youth and the younger generation. “This is for the young men and women who will be able to achieve their dreams here, who will be able to do something great for our community and fill their hearts with the joy of sport, with the joy of this beautiful game, with the joy of bringing families together. That’s what this project is all about.”

I had the chance to ask Ray Hudson, a legend of soccer here, who played for the original Ft. Lauderdale Strikers and later managed the MLS Miami Fusion, as well as enjoying success as an announcer for BeIn Sports. He told me he’s on board and called it a sign of progress. He also added to TV reporters:

“It’s all going to be torn down and that’s a good thing, it’s the progress that we’ve been looking for and this is in responsible hands.”

Ray Hudson

Among politicians on hand was Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. During his speech addressing the attendees, he said: “This is truly a historic day for the city of Fort Lauderdale as we come together to kick off a visionary project that will completely transform the 64-acre site and have a lasting impact on our community for generations to come,” Trantalis added: “Our partnership with Miami Beckham United and Inter Miami CF represents a new and exciting chapter in the history of this storied property. One that will bring $60 million in upgrades and improvements including a new professional soccer stadium, training facilities, team offices, a youth soccer academy, multi-purpose community athletic fields, and a major public park.”

With speeches finished, it was time to get wrecking, and the old Lockhart Stadium ticket booth was the first part to come down.

Looking Ahead: Images of the new Lockhart Park (courtesy of Inter Miami CF and Manika)

Season Ticket Deposit Campaign Begins

Yesterday also saw the opening day for fans to begin placing deposits on season tickets for the inaugural season in 2020. Links are available on Inter Miami social media channels, or online at www.InterMiamiCF.com. Fans can also affiliate with a supporters group, thereby gaining the ability to receive a special rate on season ticket deposits in the supporters section of the stadium as well as other benefits. More details are available on each of the social media accounts of the supporters groups.

Read more HERE

A Big “W” in Court: Judge denies attempt to stop Inter Miami CF from continuing plans to demolish Lockhart Stadium

Miami, Fla. (Friday, May 3, 2019) – Kenneth Russo

Ordered and Adjudged that Plaintiff’s Emergency Motion for Temporary Injunction, filed April 23, 2019, is hereby DENIED. Additionally, Plaintiff’s unverified request for Emergency Relief, filed April 30, 2019, is hereby DENIED. Furthermore, this Court GRANTS Defendants’ Request for reasonable attorney’s fees in defending against Plaintiff’s unverified Request For Emergency Relief, pursuant to section 57.105, Florida Statutes. See Also Admin. Order 2014-32-Civ(c)(6) (Sep. 30, 2014). DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, on this May 3rd, 2019. s/ Raag Singhal, Circuit Court Judge


And with those words, the merit-less attempt to stop Inter Miami CF from continuing its plans to demolish the abandoned and dilapidated Lockhart Stadium, in order to make way for a new stadium, training centre and academy, was disposed of, leaving club officials, supporters and fans with a much-needed victory.

David J. Winker, acting as counsel for FXE Futbol, went to court to put a halt to the work. He left court owing what will surely be a hefty legal bill to the attorneys who defended the City of Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beckham United, LLC. against an emergency motion seeking an injunction that the Court felt was thoroughly without merit.

The primary argument raised by Miami Beckham United, LLC, a co-defendant in this case, was that the City of Fort Lauderdale’s decision to accept the unsolicited bid it made was one that is not properly reviewable by the Court: “The Plaintiff cites to zero authority, and Inter Miami is aware of none, that supports the proposition that a third party, without a legally recognized contractual or property interest in specific municipally owned property, such as Plaintiff, may enjoin that municipality from demolishing its own property.” (Defendant Miami Beckham United, LLC’s Response in Opposition To Plaintiff’s Emergency Motion For Temporary Injunction, pg. 5,6)

It was also argued that the Plaintiff lacks standing (a legal term meaning that it has no ability to bring forth a claim) and failed to meet any of the four requirements needed to be shown for injunctive relief to be granted.

The team’s counsel John K. Shubin, made this statement after today’s decision:

“Today’s decision confirms that the process that is bringing world-class soccer to the City of Fort Lauderdale was both lawful and fair. Our client will continue to move forward in good faith with the hard work that needs to be accomplished to convert this process into a reality. We also hope that we have seen the end of this meritless litigation.”

John K. Shubin, Esq.

With a little over 300 days until the start of the 2020 season, at least the question of where Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami will be playing its home games took a big step forward today.

A major component of Inter Miami CF’s plans for the Lockhart site, in addition to a 19,000 seat stadium that will serve as the interim home for the club as well as the permanent home to its affiliated USL League One (3rd Division), is a youth soccer academy — a competitive, travelling soccer team of the region’s best young players. The academy will be fully funded by the club, and players selected will be able to attend for free. The first members of the Inter Miami CF Academy are expected to be announced sometime soon. More than 6,000 South Florida youth players were scouted and over 500 were invited to attend formal tryouts that have been held at the Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium.

For the public, four “pitches” — a regulation size soccer field that can be used for other sports — will be created, as well as a dog park, a running trail, playground and public park. The estimated investment that Inter Miami is making, including new, $30 million stadium: up to $60 million.

Inter Miami’s permanent home will be located in Miami at Miami Freedom Park, the site now occupied by the Melreese Golf Club. The team is currently working out the details of a lease which will be presented to the City of Miami.

UPDATE: Lockhart Stadium’s demolition is set to officially begin this Wednesday, May 8, 2019. All supporter groups and fans are welcome to arrive between 8:15-8:45 A.M. EDT.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Evoking An Image of Wings In Flight, This Will Be Miami’s Theatre Of Dreams

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami releases stunning new preview of home stadium at Miami Freedom Park.

Miami, Fla. (Tuesday, April 9, 2019) – by Kenneth Russo

Miami has always been about the dream. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was no stranger to Miami. He liked Miami because of its promise and opportunity:

“We really look at Miami as the original dream, and try to go back to that notion — the promise of if you’re good and you do right in your life and you work hard, we all end up in Miami.”

Anthony Bourdain, 2015.

Inter Miami CF’s dream was shared in a little more detail today:

The club today released new renderings of its intended permanent home at Miami Freedom Park. Beginning with an image of a great white heron in its native South Florida habitat, the video transforms as the bird takes flight, transforming itself into a sweeping, majestic, laser-lighted canopy of the stadium. One glance makes it clear that this stadium will check all the boxes: the latest (presumably 5G) technology, beautiful sight lines, a massive wall of a supporters’ section, luxury suites, clubs and entertainment options before and after a match.

Prior to the vote in November, in which a majority of Miami city voters approved allowing the city to negotiate a lease of the land needed for building both the stadium and adjacent Miami Freedom Park, the words spoken were “this won’t just be a soccer stadium.” And they were right. This is a transformation, a vision, and the best is yet to come.

They call it “the beautiful game,” and in Miami the game won’t be the only thing they call beautiful. It takes a lot to get this town’s attention, and in Miami, sizzle and sexy are what sells. The new permanent home stadium for Inter Miami CF promises to deliver these attributes to an international fan base that is knowledgeable and passionate for fútbol.

A pure masterpiece, this stadium is the pièce de résistance befitting of MLS’ first global club.

Images courtesy of Inter Miami CF

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

MLS 2019 Primary Transfer Window – Feb 13 – May 7

Miami, FL (Friday, February 15, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

On Wednesday of this week, the 2019 MLS Primary Transfer Window, allowing clubs to now officially register their offseason additions. The 2019 window is open from February 13 until May 7 for transfers in to MLS Clubs.

Persuant to FIFA regulations, an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) is a requirement when completing an international transfer of a player. MLS teams are able to request International Transfer Certificates (ITC) from players’ former clubs to complete signings, loans and transfer deals.

With respect to outbound transfers, clubs may transfer or loan their players to non-MLS clubs at any time, subject to the transfer window of the recipient club’s national federation and subject to the consent of the player.

Major League Soccer maintains an official transactions page and transfer tracker; links are here:

official transactions page

transfer tracker

The Secondary Transfer Window will open on July 7 before closing on Aug. 7.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Marlins decline to share home with Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami

“We don’t feel at this time that Marlins Park is the ideal fit for us.” Jorge Mas, Inter Miami CF Managing Owner

Miami, FL (Thursday, February 7, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami’s proposal to use Marlins Park as a temporary home will not be in the best interests of the Miami Marlins or Inter Miami CF.

Marlins Director of Operations Chip Bowers indicates that the baseball team does not feel their facility works for Inter Miami because the baseball season overlaps with that of Major League Soccer, which plays a March through October calendar. “We’ve had some conversations with MLS Miami and Jorge Mas and his team,” he said. “Very positive. Been very diligent. Both sides, to each party’s credit, has been really focused on making sure this is the right operational fit. I think the reality is, we’ve both realized, it probably isn’t.”

Bowers said the concurrent MLS and MLB seasons was a major concern.

“I think there’s some challenges having a 17-, 18-game soccer schedule simultaneous to a baseball schedule that falls on the exact same calendar,” he said. “The field would really take a beating. There’s a lot of operational issues that go along with it that would make it really difficult for us to realize.”

Jorge Mas, Managing Owner of Inter Miami CF said: “Frankly, we have a preferred site. We’re going to be making an announcement on that late February, early March, which I think will be great for our fans, for our team and our sponsors. We don’t feel at this time that Marlins Park is the ideal fit for us.” There is still a possibility Inter Miami CF will play a few games at Hard Rock Stadium during the first season in 2020.

Using Hard Rock Stadium however, as an exclusive temporary home is also looking doubtful. Though officials from RSE Ventures declined comment, it appears they also do not feel it is feasible to provide a temporary home to Inter Miami because of spring conflicts with the Miami Open Tennis Tournament that is now housed at the stadium, and fall conflicts with the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes.

Using a baseball stadium to play soccer is never the best option for the simple reason that the sightlines are terrible. The only baseball stadium in the United States that is used for MLS is Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, which has been the home of New York City FC since the club’s inception while NYCFC seeks a permanent stadium site. The difference in New York City is that the Yankees are investors in the soccer team, giving them incentive to make the shared arrangement work. Nevertheless, the conversion from baseball to soccer pitch and back is an expensive, three-day process.

“There’s only one other facility that has done it, and that’s Yankee Stadium with New York FC. The difference there is there’s an equity piece with the Yankees and that particular team,” Bowers said. “There’s a million-dollar-a-game commitment by the team to the Yankees to overcome some of those operational challenges, none of which we think is really in the cards here given the conversations we’ve had with MLS Miami.”

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer