MLS expansion team Inter Miami CF announced plans to launch the club at a proposed new soccer stadium on the site of Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the club would play its first two seasons before moving to its permanent home at Miami Freedom Park near Miami International Airport.
The new 18,000-seat Lockhart Stadium, which would eventually become the home of a new USL club, is the centerpiece of an Inter Miami proposal submitted to the City of Fort Lauderdale on January 28 that includes a state-of-the-art training complex and community facilities featuring a park and soccer fields for public use (video renderings above).
In addition to becoming the training home for Inter Miami CF's first team, the Fort Lauderdale site would also house a USL club and eight academy teams. The estimated cost of the privately-funded project is $60 million.
“We’re going to build a new stadium there,” Mas told media members. “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.”
Michelle Kaufman reported in the Miami Herald that the proposal will be up for a vote to be approved by the Fort Lauderdale city council on Tuesday, March 19.
Inter Miami previously examined other alternatives for a temporary home, including Marlins Park and Hard Rock Stadium, but ultimately concluded that the Fort Lauderdale project would be the best option for the club.
“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,” Mas said in a club statement. “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.”
Lockhart Stadium opened in 1959 and has historically been a pro soccer venue in the region. Among the teams that played at the site was the Miami Fusion from 1998-2001. The venue has not been used in recent years and the state of disrepair was evident at the announcement (photo above).