Inter Miami CF, David Beckham Score A Goal With Deal in Fort Lauderdale

For the public in Fort Lauderdale, there is much to like about the deal.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (July 10, 2019) —

It was another win in the books for soccer legend David Beckham. On Tuesday night, his group, which operates under the legal entity known as Miami Beckham United, LLC *1 won an agreement from the City of Fort Lauderdale assures the Major League Soccer team will have a new stadium in time for the start of the 2020 season.

City commissioners unanimously embraced plans to transform the defunct Lockhart Stadium, located off Commercial Boulevard and Northwest 12th Avenue, into a professional soccer centre.

City officials said very little Tuesday, and Beckham and his business partners were not present.*2 Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis was very pleased by the result.

“This is a really a wonderful turning point in our community,” Mayor Trantalis said. “Congratulations. We’ll be there for the first kick.”

While Beckham’s ultimate goal is to build his team’s home stadium in Miami, and to use the planned Fort Lauderdale stadium as a training hub for cultivating soccer talent, the immediate problem of finding a suitable place to play in the meantime is solved. For at least the first two seasons, starting next March, Beckham’s new Major League Soccer team, Inter Miami CF, will play in Fort Lauderdale.

The 18,000-seat Fort Lauderdale stadium and the 25,000-seat Miami stadium would be about an hour apart, by car.

For the public in Fort Lauderdale, the transformation will include sports fields, a city park and a home football field for two high schools — Fort Lauderdale and Stranahan — that currently have none.

Video: Inter Miami CF and Manica

Already, Lockhart Stadium and the adjacent Fort Lauderdale Stadium have been demolished.

The name of the new sports stadium hasn’t been announced. The agreement approved Tuesday says the group can name any portion of the Inter Miami site, including the stadium, without the city’s consent, “provided such name shall not be in bad taste or offensive to the city’s image, or in the reasonable opinion of the City Commission is a source of embarrassment to the Fort Lauderdale community.”

Commissioner Heather Moraitis said she supports retaining the “Lockhart” name, after former city commissioner H. Y. “Doug” Lockhart. The decision rests on Miami Beckham United, though. Securing a naming rights agreement would be a logical step and one which can bring in revenue that would be used to offset operating costs. While naming rights agreements vary in length and terms, many are between 5 and 7 years in length.

Under the terms of the deal, no money changes hands. In return for use of the property for 50 years, Beckham United will construct sports fields, a trail, playground, and park space on the southern portion of the property, for the community. The agreement expires on December 31, 2069, but Inter Miami can renew the lease agreement for a five-year term. Thereafter, by mutual agreement, the lease can be renewed for two additional five-year terms.

The city intends to use some of its $200 million parks bond, approved by voters in November, to enhance the new city park there.

Other terms of the deal:

  • FOOD, DRINKS: The Inter Miami group can operate concessions, including any restaurant, sports bar or tavern.
  • COMMUNITY: At least 24 days a year, local high schools will have access to Inter Miami’s turf field for high school football or soccer events. In addition, four days a year, the city can use Inter Miami’s stadium for football, soccer, JROTC, band concerts or other community events.
  • SPELLING: The agreement says that “Miami Beckham shall endeavour in good faith not to abbreviate the word ‘Fort’ in city’s name in any written promotional materials.”
  • MONEY: Miami Beckham United will pay the estimated $60 million to construct all improvements. After that, the group will pay to operate and maintain just the Inter Miami portion, which includes a stadium and a 50,000 square foot training facility with locker rooms, weight rooms, classrooms, and dining facilities.
  • DEADLINE: All the work is to be completed within three years, but if it’s not, the city’s only recourse is to take over construction of the public portion, and bill it to Miami Beckham United.

The group’s progress toward a stadium in Miami has been plodding. But in Fort Lauderdale, even with the appearance of a feisty soccer rival, the Beckham deal came together in just six months.

Miami voters in November agreed the city should negotiate with Beckham and Mas toward a 99-year lease at Melreese Country Club, just east of Miami International Airport.

Photo: Inter Miami CF and Manica

Read the agreement between Miami Beckham United and Fort Lauderdale »

And say this for Beckham: He somehow lasted the process. He needed some local muscle like Mas being added. But even if you didn’t follow all the ins and outs, the commission meetings and changed stadium sites, Beckham lasting six years through this fight is as revealing as the finish line drawing near.

“I had no idea,” Beckham said. “I honestly thought I’d announce the team and we’d be up and playing in a year. Not because of who I am. Just because I felt there was such a movement in this country and such a moment in the MLS and this sport that I just assumed it would be pretty easy to start a team.”


Hyde: For Jorge Mas and David Beckham, the soccer goal is finally in sight |

Commentary »Fort Lauderdale embraces David Beckham for soccer deal »


*1 – Miami Beckham United, LLC is a Delaware Limited Liability Corporation duly authorised to conduct business in the State of Florida.

*2 – The ownership group consists of Jorge and Jose Mas, chairman and CEO, respectively, of MasTec engineering and construction company; Marcelo Claure, co-founder of Brightstar Corp. and chief operating officer for SoftBank, which owns Sprint, and billionaire businessman Masayoshi Son, founder and executive chairman of SoftBank.

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

Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners unanimously approve moving forward with Inter Miami CF facility at Lockhart Stadium.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Thursday, March 14, 2019) – Kenneth Russo

Inter Miami CF wins!

In the end, City of Fort Lauderdale commissioners agreed that there was only one choice. On Tuesday, they unanimously selected the bid by Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, and David Beckham’s vision for bringing the club’s permanent training centre and home to its youth academy to Fort Lauderdale.

Included in the club’s plan is a new Lockhart Stadium, which will serve as Internacional’s home stadium in 2020 and 2021, as well as the permanent home of the club’s USL One affiliate.

Marlins Park, Hard Rock Stadium, and Riccardo Silva Stadium on the campus of Florida International University had all been considered as temporary venues, but Inter Miami officials opted for Lockhart.

If all goes as planned, the construction of an 18,000-seat modular stadium, complete with a shade canopy, at 1350 NW 55 St in Fort Lauderdale, should begin in July, making it ready for Inter Miami CF’s first season. Next year’s MLS calendar has yet to be revealed, but traditionally the league begins play on the first full weekend in March, which next year would mean Saturday, March 7, 2020.

Highlighting the Difference in Government Efficiency

Inter Miami only placed a bid on the city-owned property in Fort Lauderdale at the end of January. In less than two months, they presented their proposal and obtained the approval of city commissioners to negotiate a lease. Meanwhile, in Miami… More than four years passed between David Beckham’s initial announcement in 2014 that he had chosen Miami as the city for his MLS team, before he and his partners finally were able to make progress. And the process in Miami is still not complete, despite a large approval (over 60%) by voters last November to transform Melreese Golf Course into the home stadium for Inter Miami CF as well as a the creation of Miami’s largest park (Miami Freedom Park), public soccer fields, a technology hub, office, hotel and entertainment space.

Fort Lauderdale Commissioners Saw the Value

After hearing proposals by both Inter Miami and a competing bid by FXE Futbol, city commissioners voted to rank the Inter Miami CF proposal higher than the FXE Futbol proposal, and the commission voted Tuesday night to allow negotiations to begin.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis and Commissioner Ben Sorensen were understandably happy with the decision by Inter Miami to invest in the city, an investment estimated to be worth $30 to $60 million. “It’s a great day for Fort Lauderdale,” Commissioner Sorensen said.

During the round-table meeting, comissioners watched animated renderings on a flat-screen television of visions by architecture firms hired by Inter Miami CF, a Major League Soccer franchise, and FXE Futbol, which was hopeful of being granted a United Soccer League franchise to compete in the USL Championship (2nd Division). However, FXE Futbol had not actually submitted a formal application to USL, per USL sources. They instead decided to wait until obtaining the right to negotiate with the City of Fort Lauderdale before applying. They also disclosed during hearings that they would be seeking additional investors as part of their bid for the project and USL franchise.

Both of the plans involved demolishing the abandoned Lockhart Stadium, which first opened in 1959 and was named after a former Fort Lauderdale commissioner. The adjacent former baseball stadium will also be demolished. Inter Miami CF’s designs were created by Manica Architecture, which specialises in the design of international sport venues. Inter Miami CF’s vision will be entirely privately funded.

South Florida Soccer Icon Weighs In

Ray Hudson, 63, was in his usual ecstatic form. The former English soccer player has good memories at the now abandoned Lockhart Stadium. After playing for the Newcastle United, he moved to South Florida in 1977 to play for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Ray Hudson

The midfielder played for them until 1992, and then went on to coach the Miami Fusion, a former MLS team based out of Lockhart Stadium. He now works as a commentator on beIN Sports covering La Liga games and radio host for SiriusXM FC 157.

Commitment to Fort Lauderdale is Long-Term

In a non-solicited proposal originally submitted to Fort Lauderdale on January 28, 2019, Inter Miami committed to privately fund the design, development, construction, maintenance, and operation of a state-of-the-art soccer training complex that includes an 18,000-seat stadium, as well as several community facilities, including a public park, at the 65-acre site. The total investment in Fort Lauderdale will be on the order of $60 Million, half of which will go into building the new Lockhart.

Beckham and Mas were at Lockhart on Thursday March 14 to announce their proposal.

Mas said recently he was “very excited” about his team’s proposal to develop the publicly owned Lockhart Stadium grounds in Fort Lauderdale as a state-of-the-art training site that would double as a youth-development academy.


“We’re going to build a new stadium there. It’s not a refurbishment of Lockhart. It will be a new stadium for a (second-tier) USL team and a soccer-centric academy. We’ll be able to host tournaments and other games there.”

Jorge Mas, Managing Owner, Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami.



Even after Inter Miami CF moves to Miami Freedom Park adjacent to Miami International Airport, Inter Miami CF promises not to abandon the property. The team says it is applying for a USL franchise. USL forms the second and third tier of US Soccer. Inter Miami plans to run a club competing in USL League One. (Third Tier) This club will remain permanently at Lockhart and will allow locals to see players develop before hopefully being selected to the senior squad.

The team also said that the site will be used for the franchise’s youth academy. It will be the longest distance from the home stadium to an academy in MLS, but this only underscores the huge amount of territory that South Florida spans.

“Our ownership group has spent months carefully discussing venue options to launch Inter Miami CF’s inaugural season in MLS, while we build Miami Freedom Park,” said Inter Miami CF Sporting Director Paul McDonough. “Ultimately we decided to expand our vision for the Fort Lauderdale project to launch our first two seasons in the League the right way. Our goal is to provide fans with the most captivating soccer atmosphere and gameday experience, and we did not believe this would be possible at the venues we evaluated.”

Ability to Attract Talent To The Academy A Factor

The Sporting Director also pointed out that having an Academy in the middle of the urban South Florida area made good sense. “I think the decision for us was: We want to be South Florida’s team, and our youth territory stretches all the way south from Homestead, all the way north to Palm Beach,” McDonough said. “So we figured that if we wanted to capture the best players for our developmental system, we thought that this site gave us the best opportunity.

“Yeah, the history of everything that’s happened at that site was really neat, but I think it was really important that we captured the best players — but also that we are South Florida’s team.”

Inter Miami CF proposal video for Lockhart. Courtesy of Inter Miami CF.

Aside from the soccer-performance facilities and fields, Inter Miami plans to build several public features, including parks and soccer fields. The site could also host concerts, high-school sports, and other events. The team said there will be no commercial development on the property. Fort Lauderdale will only have to maintain the four community soccer fields being built. Inter Miami CF will maintain its seven soccer fields it intends to build.

The next step in this process will be for the City and Inter Miami CF to agree on the terms on the long-term lease. Building permits will also need to be procured. The plan is to begin construction in July, 2019.

Related: News Conference Held on March 14, 2019.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

United Soccer League Overview

The brands of the United Soccer Leagues, LLC ™United Soccer Leagues, LLC

Brand Identity

Corporate Structure and Ownership

The legal entity that operates the United Soccer League is known as United Soccer, Leagues, LLC. The league offices are at 1715 North Westshore Boulevard, Suite 825, Tampa, Florida 33607.

The United Soccer League is owned by NuRock Soccer Holdings, LLC, a Georgia Limited Liability Company with its principal business address in Atlanta, Georgia. NuRock controls 99% of the membership interests, while the other 1 % is held by Robert Hoskins.

Background

NuRock Soccer Holdings LLC purchased the United Soccer Leagues from Nike in August 2009. NuRock had been a franchisee of the United Soccer League with a Premier Development League team in Atlanta.

NuRock is led by real estate developer Robert Hoskins and former NASL player Alec Papadakis, and NuRock Soccer Holdings, LLC is a part of a larger organisation known as The NuRock Companies — of which Hoskins is the founder.

Rebrand

In 2018, the USL announced a rebranding, which took effect immediately at the close of the 2018 season. The rebranded USL is modelled after a recognised and respected international structure – one central brand, three leagues. Unlike Major League Soccer (“MLS”), which operates under the single entity, limited liability legal structure, the USL operates a pure franchise model which is highly centralised and top-down in its execution.

The vision of USL is to a future where stability reigns in the world of lower division soccer in the United States. Stability is not one word that most would use to describe the lower divisions over the years. It seeks to strengthen its contribution to U.S. Soccer’s efforts toward becoming a world powerhouse and its pursuit of winning a World Cup.

The Three Leagues

USL CHAMPIONSHIP ( 2nd tier of US Soccer)

Logo of USL Championship ™ United Soccer League

In 2017, the USL was given provisional accreditation as a DII league. In 2018, the USL was sanctioned as the sole DII league in the United States. The fee in 2018 to buy a franchise is believed to be $7 million. That fee can be expected to rise, given the historical rise in franchise fees in both USL and MLS over the past several years. According to USL documentation, the current expected initial investment by a new team is at least $10.6 million (including the aforementioned $7 million expansion fee)

By Comparison: In 1998, the Miami Fusion are believed to have paid $20 million to join MLS. In 2018, FC Cincinnati is believed to have forked out $150 million. That means in 20 years, MLS’ valuation of clubs has risen 7.5-fold. In half that time, the USL’s 47-fold increase has far outpaced even the top professional league in U.S. Soccer.

Currently, the USL has 33 teams, divided into two sides (called conferences) ‘East’ and ‘West’. Teams play 34-games from in a fixture that runs from March through October. Like MLS, the USL also ends the season with playoffs. The USL Championship is a fully professional league and all players are paid.

Affiliation with MLS: Some of the teams are affiliated with MLS clubs, as the current rules permit MLS clubs to field reserve teams in USL or affiliate with USL clubs. In fact, most MLS clubs have either an affiliation or field reserve teams. This agreement is subject to revision in the future.

Note: Many of the early USL clubs signed a five-year franchise agreement with the league. That five-year term, depending on the club, may expire at the end of 2018 or 2019. The USL has recognized this potential difficulty and in 2016, took measures to incentivize owners to remain in the league. An increase in the expansion fee was one, while another is a smaller $10,000 fee required to renew membership for another term. The present term is for 10 years.

USL LEAGUE ONE (3rd tier of US Soccer)

During the 2017 and 2018 seasons, US Soccer had no third division. That gap is now filled with the arrival of USL One. Officially launched on 14 December 2018. USL applied for Third Division status for its League One in August 2018; the USSF granted a provisional third division status on December 14, 2018.

Employing the successful methodology utilized by the USL to establish the largest professional soccer league in North America, the USL League One expansion efforts center on markets that meet the following criteria:

  • Strong local ownership
  • Primary owner with a net worth in excess of $10 million and 35% or greater share of the potential franchise
  • Soccer-specific stadia
  • Seating Capacity: 3,500
  • Pitch Size: 110 yards x 70 yards
  • Viable market size and support

The expansion fee for USL D3 teams is believed to be $500,000, and teams are expected to spend between $2.4 million and $5.1 million during their first season of play. USL One is also regarded as a professional league.

For the 2019 season, there will be ten teams competing (9 from the US plus Toronto FC II) in a 28 fixture season. Expansion clubs for 2020 include the Rochester Rhinos and Harrisburg, PA side Penn FC. The latter club is in the process of finding a suitable home stadium and opted to sit out the 2019 season.

2019 USL League One Footprint ™ United Soccer League

USL LEAGUE TWO (4th tier -unofficial)

(f/k/a Premier Development League “PDL”)

USL League Two continues the mission of the PDL, the leader in pre-professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada. The League holds a vital role as it continues to provide the elite platform for those pursuing professional careers domestically and internationally.

League Two aims to be more than the leading national U23 league: League Two bills itself as “the defined and proven pathway for players to progress to the professional ranks of soccer while becoming a staple within the community in which the team operates.”

League Two clubs have partnerships with MLS and USL Championship Clubs. At present, there are 74 clubs in League Two.

USL League Two is divided into 4 conferences: Eastern, Southern, Central and Western.

The USL League Two regular season takes place during the summer from early May to mid-July. Each team plays a 14 matches against their respective divisional opponents, seven games at home and seven away. Following the conclusion of the regular season, a postseason tournament takes place. These playoffs take place in late July, with each conference champion advancing to the national semifinals and the winners of those matches advancing to the League Two Championship match in early August.

A note about division sanctioning: The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) promulgated criteria and sanctions the first three divisions of soccer in the US. Below the three official divisions as designated by USSF, there are other active leagues; some of these are intrastate competitions or independent leagues. Most, though not all, of these are sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA).

2019 USL League 2 Footprint ™ United Soccer League

Sources:

1. USL website

2. https://www.soctakes.com/2018/07/30/usl-franchise-fees-shepard-tone-or-progress/

3. Florida Secretary of State, Division of Corporations. http://search.sunbiz.org; Georgia Secretary of State, Corporations Division.

4. https://league-one.com/2018/12/14/usl-league-one-granted-provisional-ussf-sanctioning/

5. independent research