Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale

Beckham’s Inter Miami soccer team wants to train in Fort Lauderdale

Team could boost Cypress Creek area

Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium has a long history of soccer and is now proposed as the training grounds for David Beckham’s Inter Miami Major League Soccer team.

The logo for Inter Miami, which is the shortened version of Club Internacional de Futbol Miami

The logo for Inter Miami, which is the shortened version of Club Internacional de Futbol Miami

The club, represented by Tripp Scott attorney Stephanie Toothaker, sent an unsolicited proposal to the city of Fort Lauderdale to turn the 1959-era stadium into an 18,000 seat, state-of-the art venue. The club says an engineering assessment found the stadium does not meet code requirements, including those associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Inter Miami would also add a 30,000- to 32,000-square foot building with locker rooms, weight training facilities, dining areas and administrative offices.

The club expects the site would have 80 full-time staff members, including 30 soccer players.

While the club will ultimately play at Miami Freedom Park, which is being developed just east of Miami International Airport, the training facility would be a boost to the Uptown Urban Village Project in Fort Lauderdale’s Cypress Creek area. The area hosts 70,000 employees and offers the opportunity for transit-oriented development near the Cypress Creek Tri Rail station. There have been plans over the decades to develop the station’s sprawling parking lot on the east side of Andrews Avenue, but they have never come to fruition.

Inter Miami indicated it will help Fort Lauderdale’s plan to reactivate the stadium area with a public park, playground, jogging trail and dog park.

There have been a couple of proposals for water parks on land near the stadium. Schlitterbahn’s plan was derailed by a lawsuit by Premiere Parks, which owns Wet ‘n’ Wild near West Palm Beach. In September, however, Premiere ended its plan for a Fort Lauderdale water park. One popular venue in the area is Xtreme Action Park, which offers a half-mile go kart track, a sports performance training center, laser tag and an array of games.

A key economic engine in the neighborhood is Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, which is one of the nation’s busiest general aviation airports.

Lockhart stadium was built originally for high schools sports, but in 1977 became the home for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League. It laster hosted the Miami Fusion Major League Soccer team. A second iteration of the Strikers played more recently at the stadium, but moved to Central Broward Regional Park. The key assets of the team were sold for $5,100 at a court-ordered auction in 2017.

“The vast history of soccer in South Florida has deep roots in Fort Lauderdale dating back to the original Strikers of the 70’s and 80’s, the Miami Fusion of the 90’s and early 2000’s as well as the recent clubs that have called Lockhart Stadium their home,” Paul McDonough, Inter Miami’s sporting director, said in a news release. “It is a privilege to be able to present a sustainable proposal that honors that history and revitalizes the area. Our training facility will serve all of South Florida’s soccer community and provide amateur and professional athletes the opportunity to achieve their goals both on and off the field.”

The site will have several soccer fields and accommodate a youth academy and a United Soccer League Team. The academy will provide more than 120 local athletes with a fully funded opportunity to train and develop their soccer skills as they pursue professional or collegiate soccer careers. The academy’s teams will range from ages 12 to 19.

“The most important pillar of our legacy is our youth academy, where future players will have the opportunity to train alongside the professionals and aspire to one day represent our community in front of their hometown crowd,” McDonough said. “This proposal will establish our daily soccer operations in a centralized location that caters to youth players from all of South Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.”
The team is expected to kick off in the 2020 season, possibly at Marlins Ballpark since Freedom Park isn’t expected to be completed by then.
Kevin Gale
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