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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The decision by Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners came around 5:30 Tuesday afternoon.
“Miami Beckham LLC received 5 number one rankings,” said a city official tallying the votes of all five City Commissioners.
“Ok, it’s done,” said Mayor Dean Trantalis.
And with that, and a formal vote at a commission meeting a few hours later, Fort Lauderdale officially got into the David Beckham business.
Commissioners ranked two proposals to play soccer at dilapidated Lockhart Stadium near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
One came from Beckham’s MLS team — Inter Miami CF and one from a competing group, FXE Futbol.
City commissioners chose to begin negotiations with Beckham, saying they believed the Beckham group is on more solid footing with the backing of MLS and has the ability to get their proposal done.
Jorge Mas, a main investor in the Beckham group, was thrilled.
“I’m looking forward to bringing exciting, loud atmosphere and a great atmosphere for our sponsors and fans in South Florida and building a fan base,” Mas told reporters.
Inter Miami CF said they will build a new 18,000 seat Lockhart Stadium with private funding and their MLS team will play at Lockhart for two seasons until their Miami stadium is ready.
The team promised a permanent training facility at Lockhart stadium, corporate offices, another pro team at the stadium and lots of fields for public use.
FXE Futbol said they would renovate Lockhart Stadium and promised a pro league, retail, Top Golf and lots of public access. But Mayor Dean Trantalis said there was a big problem with FXE’s bid.
“FXE Futbol did not have a commitment from their league and therefore even if we approved them there was no saying they’d ever have a team playing here,” Trantalis said.
FXE Managing Director John Paul Reynal said they worked 2 years on their bid and feel like Beckham’s group undercut them. Plus he believes city commissioners ignored the advice of their staff by rushing through this decision.
“We believe the process was rushed,” he said. “We believe the process was done badly.”
Reynal said they have five days to contest this decision and they are considering all of their options.
Since they were ranked second, if the Inter Miami CF bid falls through, FXE Futbol would be next in line.
Several fans of the FXE Futbol said they believe the Beckham group is just using Fort Lauderdale.
“They seem to only come up to Fort Lauderdale out of desperation when they don’t get their way in Miami and they’re not right now and they haven’t for 5 years,” said Derek Norris. “They need a place to play and it looks like they found one.”
But former Fort Lauderdale Striker player Ray Hudson said the Beckham name will put the city back on the soccer map.
“This is, like I say, the royal flush,” Hudson said. “We will never have another opportunity in this city to get a man with that outreach and impact that David Beckham has. We’ll be back on the map.”
Still much is up in the air. Jorge Mas was asked if the Beckham team could wind up playing longer at Lockhart since the Miami stadium situation remains unsettled.
“We don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “I’m planning on playing at Miami Freedom Park in 2022 but if for some reason that option isn’t available, we’ll adjust accordingly.”
Mas said he hopes to get everything in place to break ground by July of this year and open a brand new stadium for MLS soccer games in March 2020.