NEW YORK — Despite working on two stadium sites, one for the interim and one for the future, Inter Miami aren't worried about either. In fact, according to co-owner Jorge Mas, it's all smooth sailing.
Miami will kick off their MLS existence playing in Fort Lauderdale on the site of a since-demolished Lockhart Stadium next season, 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 to get the final go-ahead to begin construction on their permanent home at Miami Freedom Park.
The club will need the first site to be up and running in about five months for their MLS home debut.
“We’re full speed ahead on Fort Lauderdale stadium and the training center, we’re on time," Mas told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday. "That should be ready to go in February or March of next year for opening day.”
“We’re moving along, we’re full speed ahead," sporting director Paul McDonough added succinctly. "We’re on target.”
When asked about contingency plans in case targets are missed, Mas didn't see the necessity.
“We’ll be ready to be home," Mas said without hesitation. "I’m anticipating that maybe our first or second game will be away, I’m anticipating that we’ll be opening in mid-March or the latter parts of March for our home opener. That should give us sufficient time. We’re targeting finishing the Ft. Lauderdale stadium on February 15 so we can have a few events there first so when we have our home opener, it’s smooth.”
As for the club's future home at Miami Freedom Park, Mas is optimistic in the timeline as well.
“With Miami Freedom Park, we’re ongoing. We got a go-ahead from the city of Miami voters in last year’s referendum to negotiate a lease, bypassing the RFP (request for proposal) process," Mas said. "We’re in the final stages of doing that. I’m hopeful in the next 45-60 days that we’ll get a green light from the city. We’re very well advanced on both tracks. The Miami Freedom Park project will be a wonderful project for the city, it’ll be an iconic destination. It’ll put Miami on the global map for soccer in terms of facilities. It’ll be an entertainment destination, a soccer destination, it’ll be a place where Miamians can gather. I’m very optimistic about where we are and what we’ll be able to build there.”
Mas was in New York with McDonough for the Expansion Priority Draft, determining who between Miami and Nashville SC would get the first selection in the MLS SuperDraft and Expansion Draft as well as the first slot in the Allocation Order and more. They won the coin toss and chose the first selection in the Expansion Draft, which will take place in November.
With every milestone, major and minor, Inter Miami is one step closer to making their long-awaited MLS debut.
“It’s been very real, especially when we got the go-ahead on the facilities and that we were a go for 2020," Mas said. "(Sunday's) coin toss was just another step. Good vibes, good karma, great energy in Miami for what we’re going to do. I’ve always said we’re here to make a difference, we’re not here to continue the status quo. What we want to build in Miami is going to be very special, it’s going to be very good for MLS and soccer in the United States. I want people when they think of soccer in the US to think of Inter Miami.”