David Beckham's five-year quest to bring an MLS team to South Florida has encountered another obstacle in the form of a lawsuit that could at least delay its efforts to redevelop Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium.
Beckham, his partners and Inter Miami CF won approval from the City of Ft. Lauderdale on April 2 to redevelop Lockhart, a project that would involve demolishing the existing structure, and replacing it with an 18,000-seat venue that, starting next season, will host the team for the first two years of its MLS existence, as well as a training facility. The team is scheduled to begin playing in MLS in 2020.
FXE Futbol has filed a lawsuit against @FTLCityNews and Miami Beckham United (a.k.a. @InterMiamiCF) to obtain a temporary injunction to prevent the demolition of historic #LockhartStadium #SaveLockhart @grantstern pic.twitter.com/ompixJ1zkd— FXE Futbol (@FXE_Futbol) April 16, 2019
But on Monday, FXE Futbol, whose competing bid proposed a renovation of Lockhart Stadium, filed suit in Broward County court, seeking "expedited and declaratory injunctive relief."
The suit alleges that the City of Ft. Lauderdale failed to adhere to Florida state law as it relates to unsolicited offers for the development of public land by a private entity by not getting "an architect, landscape architect, or an engineer licensed in this state" to review the proposals. State law also requires an "independent analysis" to demonstrate the public-private partnership's cost-effectiveness.
FXE Futbol also accused Inter Miami of falsely stating to the city that the FXE Futbol's proposal wasn't viable because of the "tremendous amount" of asbestos on the site, thus making a renovation unfeasible.
"We can no longer stand on the sidelines while our due process is being violated," said FXE's managing partner, John F. Reynal, in a statement posted by the company on Twitter. "Not only do we believe the ranking was carried out without the proper statutory review, but the subsequent signing of the interim agreement to demolish Lockhart would render our proposal impossible to deliver.
"While we are not asking for preferential treatment, we do demand that we and all future bidders in front of the City of Ft. Lauderdale receive a fair, open review in accordance with the mandated legal process."
Miami attorney John Shubin issued a statement on the club's behalf:
"We have reviewed the complaint and are very confident that, when the facts are properly applied to the applicable law, it will be determined that this lawsuit has no merit. We look forward to working with the city of Fort Lauderdale to bring Major League Soccer's Inter Miami team, its training facility and youth academy to the community in 2020."
Beckham's Miami project was announced with great fanfare back in February of 2014, only to encounter numerous missteps as it related to a stadium site. The group, Miami Beckham United, thought it had secured land in Miami's Overtown neighborhood, only to run into local opposition.
When the ownership group was altered to include MasTec chairman Jorge Mas, the group switched directions and opted for a $1 billion stadium and commercial project on Melreese golf course. Miami commissioners are currently negotiating a 99-year lease.