FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Demolition has begun on Lockhart Stadium, the future home of David Beckham’s MLS team.
Jorge Mas, the managing owner of Inter Miami CF, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, and Commissioner Heather Moraitis hosted an official demolition ceremony at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart property on Wednesday.
“Today is an extremely special day. Today is a day where the dream of soccer, of an MLS team for South Florida, becomes a reality. It’s a new beginning and we stand here at a site that holds the history of professional soccer in South Florida, where hearts and minds were swayed by this beautiful game, where young men and women could showcase their skills, and today is a continuation of turning a new page on the history of this site. But more importantly the beginning, here a Lockhart Stadium in the city of Fort Lauderdale, to become the gateway of soccer for South Florida,” said Mas.
It’s been almost two decades since fans have enjoyed soccer there. 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.
Ray Hudson, who played, managed and called games at Lockhart, said a tear down of the historic site was necessary for growth.
“It’s all going to be torn down and that’s a good thing, it’s the progress that we’ve been looking for and this is in responsible hands,” he said.
WATCH THE ENTIRE DEMOLITION CEREMONY IN THE VIDEO BELOW
“This is truly a historic day for the city of Fort Lauderdale as we come together to kick off a visionary project that will completely transform the 64-acre site and have a lasting impact on our community for generations to come,” said Trantalis. “Our partnership with Miami Beckham United and Inter Miami CF represents a new and exciting chapter in the history of this storied property. One that will bring $60 million in upgrades and improvements including a new professional soccer stadium, training facilities, team offices, a youth soccer academy, multi-purpose community athletic fields, and a major public park.”
Inter Miami CF will build a new 18,000 seat Lockhart Stadium with private funding. The plan is to have the stadium ready in time to begin an inaugural MLS season in March 2020. They will play there for two years until their Miami stadium is ready.
“It shouldn’t be about Fort Lauderdale or Miami. It should be about soccer in our community. Broward and Palm Beach County have almost four million people, they’re part of our community, they are part of our fan base,” said Mas.
Mas said he’s extremely confident that things will work out with Miami and they will be able to build their Miami Freedom Park on the site of the Melreese Country Club and golf course.
“I think over the course of the next 60 to 90 days we’ll get a green light and go ahead there. I’m very confident, it’s a beautiful project, I think it will also transform the city of Miami,” he said.
As for the team itself, Mas said they’ve narrowed their head coach search to three finalists and plan to start signing players this summer.
The Inter Miami CF website is now taking deposits for their inaugural season tickets.