FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) – David Beckham’s soccer group has been given the go-ahead to knock down Lockhart Stadium and adjacent Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
Tuesday night the Fort Lauderdale City Commission voted to enter into an interim agreement with Beckham’s group that green lights the demolition as a precursor to building a stadium of its own on that plot of land.
According to the city attorney, the agreement is essentially a first step, an interim agreement to proceed with the project, to do what they need to do at the stadium site itself as needed. While demolition may not happen anytime soon, Beckham’s group will access to the site to begin working on whatever they need.
Mayor Dean Trantalis suggested to the commission that the agreement should come with financial assurances that the Beckham group will not simply demolish the existing stadium and then walk away from the project without building something in its place. Other commissioners argued that given the extremely tight timeline, Beckham’s group wants to begin play there in less than a year, the project must be permitted to start as soon as possible.
The vote was unanimous, 5-0. Beckham’s group will have 180 days to complete the demolition.
Beckham’s group, his team is called Inter Miami, plans to have a stadium in place on the Lockhart site in time to begin an inaugural MLS season in March 2020. Beckham has unsuccessfully tried for years to find a place to put a stadium in Miami, which is why his group announced plans last month to play its first two seasons in Fort Lauderdale.
Beckham’s team also plans to use the Lockhart site as its training center, a home for its team in the lower-tier United Soccer League and its academy programs.
The current Lockhart Stadium opened in 1959 and was the home of more than a half-dozen soccer teams, including the North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers from 1977-83 and MLS’s Miami Fusion from its launch in 1998 until the team was eliminated by the league after the 2001 season.
In the past two professional baseball teams used Fort Lauderdale Stadium during Spring Training.
Both stadiums have fallen into disrepair over the last few years.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)