MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Soccer star David Beckham and his partners in bringing a Major League Soccer team plan to play their first two seasons at Lockhart Stadium.
More precisely, a new stadium where the current stadium sits.
After a brief tour of the stadium, which has fallen into disrepair, Beckham and business partner Jorge Mas spoke about their plans.
Mas said they expect to receive final approval for the stadium site from the City of Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, March 19th when a council meeting is held.
The plan calls for the demolition of the old stadium and the construction of a new 18,000 seat facility that will be aligned north to south and have a canopy.
Mas said construction of the brand new stadium will begin in July and is scheduled to be completed in February 2020, just in time for the start of their first MLS season in March.
“When we looked at interim sites because our stadium in Miami at Miami Freedom Park will take a couple years to build and construct. We anticipate playing there in March 2022. But for our 2020 and 2021 seasons, we explored as an ownership group different options and what other MLS teams have done. Some have played in baseball stadiums, some have played in larger venues and football stadiums but we’ve always wanted to design something special for our fans. So we have made a commitment to make an investment here for our team, for our fans, so they can have a great experience.”
Their proposal also calls for a state-of-the-art training facility, multi-purpose sport stadium, youth fields that would be used by the team’s youth academy.
“I look at this as a great opportunity to not only look back at the great memories and the tributes we give to legends who have played on this field, but more so want to share our vision and our dream of a better future here for this site,” said Mas.
Mas said their facility will be able to house 160 to 200 young athletes who will make up their academy teams.
Beckham said since day one he’s been saying it’s all about the academy and the kids.
“It’s something that I am personally very passionate about. I’ve always been passionate about the future of the kids in this great city. This is a visionary idea that we’re really excited to share. I think it’s the perfect location, it’s a location we’ve been dreaming about, it’s a location we feel will give the kids a community and real opportunity to live their dreams,” he said.
Mas said even with the Lockhart location for training, staff operations, and the academy, they will play their MLS games in Miami when that complex is completed.
Meanwhile down in Miami-Dade County, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez called the announcement wonderful.
“It was always clear to us from the get go [they would need] some sort of temporary site to begin playing,” said Mayor Suarez.
The Mayor added that the next steps for the city of Miami would be to change the zoning of the Melreese County Club property and have a lease approved by the city commission to turn the property into Miami Freedom Park.
“Gonna try to get them done as quickly as possible,” said Mayor Suarez.
Quickly as possible would be right. On Thursday afternoon, Miami city commissioners passed a motion that set a September 12 deadline for a negotiated lease agreement that they could vote on.
City Manager Emilio Gonzalez said he wasn’t sure if that was enough time.
“My intent is to bring a contract [to the Commission] that is in the best interest of our residents,” said Gonzales. “If I can do this by September…I can’t answer that, to be honest with you.”
It’s not known what will happen if a lease isn’t finalized by the deadline.
Commissioner Joe Carrollo said he will put forward a motion to open bidding on the site to companies nationwide.