ORLANDO, Fla. – In the booming landscape of Major League Soccer, stadium questions have become the norm. Typically, though, it's just one venue clubs need to provide updates for.
Not when it comes to Inter Miami.
The expansion side is set to enter the league in 2020, and Miami have long been loud and ambitious. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that building just one new stadium wasn't enough.
Miami will kick off their MLS existence playing in Fort Lauderdale on the site of a since-demolished Lockhart Stadium, where the club is building a stadium and training center. Eventually, the stadium will become home to the club's future USL team. All the while, they're working on working to get the final go-ahead to begin construction on their permanent home at Miami Freedom Park. For now, they're in a race to finish construction in Fort Lauderdale ahead of the team's inaugural match in 2020.
Co-owner Jorge Mas isn't worried.
“I’m very confident that we’ll have close to 100 percent of the whole facility done by March,” Mas told reporters after a Board of Governors meeting, hours before the All-Star Game on Wednesday. "All of the timelines we needed to meet to get ready; we had to get it demolished, which we did at the end of May. We frankly did the demolition before we had the contract agreement signed. The majority of our site development work has already been done. We’re starting to put foundations in."
Miami has demolished Lockhart Stadium for a temporary venue for their MLS side | Inter Miami CF
Whenever the stadium is finished, Miami shouldn't have any trouble filling the seats.
Despite minimal marketing, demand for tickets has been high. Mas said the club have already received over 8,000 non-refundable deposits for a stadium which will seat 18,000 fans. A quarter of those deposits are for premium club seats.
“We’ve been taken aback by support we’ve seen (from) Miami ... In the next 60 days, I’m anticipating we’ll sell out our interim site," Mas said. "Then we have a plan for how we’ll transition that to Miami Freedom Park in the permanent stadium.”
The permanent stadium still has a few hoops to clear. On that front, too, Mas is not short on confidence.
Renderings of the Miami Freedom Park project | Inter Miami CF
“There is no Plan B," Mas said matter-of-factly. "We’re going to get it done."
There's still one more vote to be passed. After Miami residents approved a referendum for the team to begin negotiating a lease in November, they still have yet to present a lease to a commission of five, from which they need four votes of approval.
“We’re in current negotiations for the lease, the lease has not been finalized yet," Mas said. "We’re anticipating that within the next 60 to 90 days we’ll have something in front of the commission. That’s taken a few more months than I would have liked, but I’m extremely confident that in the next 60 days we’ll be able to get that through and begin construction."