David Beckham's planned Major League Soccer stadium in South Florida is another step closer to reality.
The Fort Lauderdale City Commission voted Tuesday night to enter into an interim agreement with Beckham's group, one that will allow the MLS club to demolish Lockhart Stadium as a precursor to building a stadium of its own on that plot of land.
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.