FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) — Construction is on schedule for what will be the Fort Lauderdale home of the David Beckham group’s new Inter Miami soccer team.
“Organized chaos,” Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough said as he took a look around the site of the now-demolished Lockhart Stadium where work on a new complex is happening 12 hours a day, seven days a week. “But we’ll be ready.”READ MORE: Critics Slam New Vote By Mail Restrictions, Cite Voter Suppression & Violation Of First Amendment Rights
These are hectic times for McDonough and Inter Miami, that will embark on its inaugural MLS season starting early in 2020. The team doesn’t have a coach yet. Or players. Or a schedule. Or even the first blade of grass for its new field.
Over the next few weeks, all those issues and countless others will be addressed. All signals point toward everything being ready for the team’s first home match that’s likely to come in March.
Still, that doesn’t do much to help McDonough’s sleep cycle.
“This takes up a ton of time and everything keeps me up at night,” McDonough said. “But it’s OK. We’re just on an accelerated timeline. There’s so much stuff going on. But this is expansion. It’s awesome. Everything we’re doing here, we’re trying to do it right.”
At any given time, there are about 225 workers on the job site. The whereabouts of all of them are tracked with an app that gets data from a chip attached to the back of their hard hats. If there’s lightning in the area, work gets halted for 30 minutes until the cell passes. And that’s a big deal, because even with next season still months away every minute counts.
Nothing is ready yet, but it will be.
“The way it was built out, we’re thinking of the athlete first from the minute they walk in,” said Jacklyne Ramos, the team’s vice president of communications as she stood inside what will be the building containing the locker room and other key spaces for the team. “The main stadium, that’s for the games. Where we are now, this is where they’ll live.”
The shell of the team’s headquarters, which includes locker rooms, equipment room, dining area, coach’s office, what will become the sports performance lab, the academy workout facilities and more, is coming together.
Every detail has been thought of; the walk from the players’ parking lot to the building will be short, the training room will be small (“I don’t want them comfortable in there,” McDonough said), and an area will be built just off the outside wall of the locker room to air out cleats after training sessions.READ MORE: Carnival Cruise Line CEO Arnold Donald Cautiously Optimistic About Future Sailings
“They’ll never be in the building,” McDonough said. “Boots can stink.”
Beckham spent about five years trying to get MLS back in South Florida, and after many sites were considered, there are still plans for the team to eventually play in another stadium that Beckham and his partner Jorge Mas want built in Miami, they settled on the former Lockhart site.
Lockhart is where the MLS’ Miami Fusion played from 1998-2001, eventually folding because of poor attendance.
Inter Miami plans to play in Fort Lauderdale until the Miami stadium is complete, but what they’re building at the Lockhart site is permanent; the training complex will remain the facility for Inter Miami’s MLS, USL League One and academy teams.
The centerpiece of everything is the 18,000-seat stadium, and parts of what will become the field are already largely marked off. Drainage was installed first, followed by four inches of rock for a base. From there, sprinklers go into place and four thin pieces of wood are set in place to mark where the goalposts will go. About a foot of soil will be added in the coming weeks, watered and compacted and graded.
Sod is scheduled for November 14th. From there, it’ll be protected and fenced off.
Behind that are more fields, including a turf one that can be used for high school football and other events. The other half-dozen grass fields will be for training and the team’s affiliate clubs.
A coach will be hired soon. A roster is coming. There are plans for a soft opening a few weeks before the season and then, when the first match is played, all the mess and chaos will be forgotten.
“I wasn’t ready for this. I’m still not,” McDonough said. “I’m learning as we go. Conduits, positioning of poles, there are so many things that you don’t realize until you live it. But that’s what it takes and we’re getting it done.”MORE NEWS: Miami Police Investigate Fatal Shooting Of Woman In NE Miami
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)