Two stadium proposals, but only one location.

“Life is good when you have options.” -Don Garber

Right now, the City of Ft. Lauderdale must feel like the belle of the sports ball, with two separate organizations bidding to refurbish Lockhart Stadium, and build out the location to include various other amenities. The two proposals have been submitted, and after a small kerfuffle over transparency issues, the City Commission is set to decide on which one they’d like to ask for that last dance.

For the uninitiated, Lockhart Stadium is a bit of a…we’ll call it a “fixer-upper.” Since the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers went out of business, nobody has seen fit to do any upkeep. Thus, it’s a bit of a mess.

That said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the stadium has caught the eyes of a couple of suitors: FXE Futbol, and InterMiami CF.

With two proposals to take over the site before the Commission, a hearing has been set for a pre-agenda meeting on March 18, with a general commission meeting on March 19 at 6 p.m. local time (looks like I’ll be doing it live one more time). At that point, a decision will presumably be made.

Inter Miami:

Given the aggressive timeline proposed by the Inter Miami group, there is little time to spare, since they want to have their temporary stadium up by February/March of 2020, in time for the start of the 2020 MLS season. Having reviewed their proposal, I previously wrote about how odd it was that Inter Miami wanted to build a 18,000 seat stadium to house a USL (One) team. Well, now we know why they want to construct such a large stadium:

David Beckham’s quest to get a stadium built in Miami has literally been going on for half a decade, and I’m not sure the finish line is in sight. With their other locations caught up in political red tape or lawsuits (or otherwise unavailable), they’ve moved on to what I believe is location number six.

Beckham and Jorge Mas indicated that they’ve focused on Lockhart because they “need a place” to play, but they’ll be heading back to Miami as soon as they can get a stadium deal done and constructed down there.

Beyond that, their focus for the site is on housing their Academy, and a USL one side. Modular stadiums like the one they’ll presumably build can be constructed quickly, and taken down easily as well. So it’s unlikely that a 18,000 seat stadium will be there after they leave.

FXE Futbol:

Let’s put it this way: They’re not happy about all this. FXE submitted their proposal to the commission, and as they put it, they’re think that Inter Miami is trying to big-time them by coming in at the last minute.

Now: As I said on social media, I’m not going to get into determining which bid is better for several reasons: 1) I don’t live in Ft. Lauderdale (and haven’t been there in 20 years), 2) I’m not qualified to make that kind of judgment, 3) That’s not my job anyway. That said, I will point out a few things.

  • The FXE proposal is more detailed than the MLS submission by a long shot. My guess is that’s because MLS was relatively late to the party, having focused on other temporary locations.
  • The FXE proposal for example has most of what you’d expect: Letter of recommendation from civil leaders and businesses, a detailed outline of the construction phases, a CV for those involved in renderings, architecture, transportation and the like.
  • The FXE proposal projects a much smaller stadium footprint (9000+), which is basically in line with USL Championship sides.
  • Additionally, the proposal focuses on the USL Championship, which the MLS doesn’t really speak to at all (for reasons we now know).

Again, I’d encourage you to read the proposals yourselves. I also asked FXE about the (somewhat curious) quote from Jorge Mas that Ft. Lauderdale reached out to Inter Miami (quote lightly edited for clarity):

Not sure how Beckham Miami United ultimately decided to put in an unsolicited bid, but it rings a little hollow that Ft. Lauderdale reached out to them. The Beckham United group has stumbled trying to find a home for their MLS team in Miami. Facing an MLS deadline to kick off their season in 2020, it seems as if they had their back against the wall and went for Ft. Lauderdale as a Plan C.

Ft. Lauderdale for us represents Plan A. We have spent two years preparing for this and are eager to bring a Championship USL team to the city along with other entertainment options, open practice fields and a great park for all to enjoy! We are confident that the elected officials of Ft. Lauderdale will see the merits of our proposal, much the same as the people of Ft. Lauderdale have overwhelmingly embraced us.

Statement from FXE Futbol.

So, now we wait for next week, where there are sure to be fireworks over these battling proposals. The items are to be initially discussed around 1:30 p.m. local time, with a potential vote at the 6:00 p.m. hearing. Again, assuming it’s streamed, I’ll be there covering it. Should be interesting.

Agenda items.

Footnote: One point a source passed to me: “Key question is who foots the bill to clear the Lockhart site.” The answer to that may determine who wins the day.

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