MIAMI – Inter Miami CF, a soccer club being organized by a group that includes legendary former player David Beckham, said on Wednesday it reached an agreement with the city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that will allow the team to make its Major League Soccer (MLS) debut in March 2020.
“We are thankful for the tremendous collaboration from the City of Fort Lauderdale in helping us finalize this agreement and proceed with the next phase of construction following demolition that concluded in late June,” Inter Miami CF managing owner Jorge Mas said in a statement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Inter Miami CF will be allowed to build an 18,000-seat stadium on the 64-acre (25.9-hectare) site that was previously the home of Lockhart Stadium.
“We are working diligently to finalize many elements of the Club to bring our fans closer to their first match, including bringing on corporate partners, signing players and unveiling a seating plan for the thousands of supporters across South Florida who have already secured their season ticket deposits in the coming months,” Mas said.
The soccer club plans to construct a stadium near Miami International Airport on a site that is currently used as a municipal golf course.
Inter Miami CF would move into its permanent home after playing its first two MLS seasons at the stadium in Fort Lauderdale, a city located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Miami.
The club will pay the $60 million cost of building the stadium in Fort Lauderdale and sign a 50-year agreement to operate and maintain the facility.
Inter Miami CF said in a statement that “the site will continue to be the Club’s permanent training facility for all teams and home for its youth development Academy and United Soccer League (USL) affiliates.”
“The agreement with Inter Miami CF is the beginning of an exciting future for Fort Lauderdale that brings more recreation and sports opportunities to residents with the soccer group shouldering the cost. Fort Lauderdale acted quickly and decisively to secure this arrangement that moves our city to the next level as a quality place to live,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean J. Trantalis said.
The city will be able to use the stadium and field “for high school games, community events and concerts as pre-determined and agreed upon by the Club,” Inter Miami CF said.
The 44-year-old Beckham and his partners have been negotiating with the City of Miami to build Freedom Park, a project that will feature a 28,000-seat stadium, office buildings, retail space and a hotel.
The Inter Miami CF investor group, originally known as Miami Beckham United and now operating as Miami Freedom Park LLC, has been trying since 2014 to build a stadium, but local opposition has prevented them from gaining access to several sites in Miami.
The Miami MLS franchise, which was valued at $25 million when included in the contract Beckham signed with the league in 2007, now finally appears on its way to putting players on the field and competing in a match.