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Beckham’s stadium complex for Inter Miami taking shape

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Piles of steel sit at one end of the property, waited to be lifted into place. Workers were going in all directions, some pounding nails into wood, others ready to pour concrete, others driving heavy equipment over piles of dirt.

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For now, it’s a construction site.

Before long, Inter Miami will call it home.

“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.”

These are hectic times for McDonough and Inter Miami, the team headlined by soccer icon David Beckham 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 pitch.

Over the next few weeks, all those issues – and countless others – will be addressed. Construction is on schedule, with all signals pointing 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 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 Associated Press got a tour on Monday of what will be Inter Miami’s inaugural home. The shell of the team’s headquarters – 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.

“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’s 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.

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 to go in Nov. 14; from there, it’ll be protected and fenced off and finally, what now seems like an oversized sand pit right now will look like a place to play soccer.

Behind that are more fields, including a turf one 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’s 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 AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Beckham stadium site has unsafe arsenic levels

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MIAMI (AP) An environmental analysis shows the proposed site for David Beckham’s Major League Soccer stadium in Miami is far more toxic than previously expected.

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The Miami Herald reports the analysis found arsenic contamination reaching more than twice the legal limit, and surface-level soil samples containing hazardous debris at the Melreese golf course site, where people have played golf for more than 50 years.

The consultant’s report says almost the entire site near Miami International Airport is contaminated by ash from a municipal incinerator shut down long ago.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said Monday night that team officials said the findings could increase cleanup costs to $50 million at the site.

The sprawling $1 billion commercial and stadium complex would serve as home to Beckham’s MLS team, Inter Miami .

Beckham dreams of bringing Ronaldo, Messi to MLS, Miami

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David Beckham is dreaming big for his Major League Soccer franchise in Miami.

Really big.

Hot on the heels of announcing that he hopes Inter Miami CF will play at a revamped Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale for their first two seasons in MLS, Becks has been chatting about potential players he’d like to bring to MIA.

Here is what Beckham had to say via our partners at Sky Sports:

“Everyone has their wish list, everyone does, but if you look at the way Leo and Cristiano are still playing, even at what you might think is the later stage of their careers, I don’t see it ending for them,” Beckham said. “They’re playing at such a high level that it’s hard to see them leaving the clubs they are at, but we will see. You never know what can happen in football.”

Now, we all knew this kind of talk was coming. Beckham added Inter Miami are looking closely at players to sign and are speeding things up with just 12 months until their first MLS game.

Beckham’s name has a certain pull and if he is the co-owner of a franchise it is one for reason: to make it as successful and glamorous as possible. The fact he owns a team in Miami which will enter MLS in 2020 amplifies the glitz and glamour.

Would Ronaldo and/or Messi need a lot of convincing to head to Miami for the final few years of their careers? Probs not.

But it seems like Ronaldo would be a lot more attainable than Messi. At least right now, and especially when you factor in that his contract with Juventus is up in the summer of 2022.

That should line up perfectly with the timeframe for Miami’s proposed soccer-specific stadium deal in Freedom Park being ready for Ronaldo to call it home.

Because, let’s be honest, can you see one of these guys playing in front of 18,000 fans at a temporary home at Lockhart Stadium? Yeah, not going to happen.

Ronaldo is 34. Messi is 31. Who’s to say they both won’t play for Miami three years apart? Ronaldo has already said he wants to play until he is 40, and it is highly likely he will. As for Messi, he’s been a one-club man and it is unclear whether or not he will see much point in not playing for Barcelona his entire career.

With the Man United connection, Ronaldo heading to Miami to play for Beckham makes so much sense on so many levels.

La Liga takes Spanish FA to court over game in U.S.

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La Liga president Javier Tebas is following through on threats that he’ll take legal action to force through a league match in the U.S.

The Spanish top flight confirmed to the BBC that it had filed a lawsuit in Madrid, effectively trying to use legal means to force through an approval from the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). “La Liga has taken a case to court in Madrid and expect a resolution in the coming days or weeks,” a league spokesperson said, via the BBC.

[Premier League Preview: Manchester City vs. Bournemouth]

After announcing a 15-year deal with U.S. based sports marketing giant Relevant Sports to promote La Liga in the U.S. and elsewhere outside of Spain, La Liga revealed its intention to play a league match outside its sovereign shores. Barcelona and Girona agreed to move the return fixture, originally set to be in Girona, to Miami on January 26.

However, both the RFEF and FIFA have announced that they won’t approve this match played outside of Spain. La Liga needs approval from the RFEF, FIFA and U.S. Soccer before it can actually stage the game, and with less than two months to go, La Liga needs a decision one way or another.

It’s a bit embarrassing that both La Liga and Relevant Sports didn’t do any politiking or sounding out the necessary federations to get approval before announcing the idea, making the league look like it lacks organization and a plan. Of course, what might work in La Liga’s favor is the upcoming Copa Libertadores Final, set to take place in Madrid on December 9. Although it was moved due to quite extraordinary circumstances, the fact that it’s set to take place outside of CONMEBOL’s jurisdiction could provide La Liga with the loophole to force a league match outside of its borders.

Miami voters OK path for Beckham’s stadium, complex

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MIAMI (AP) David Beckham’s long-planned soccer stadium deal is closer to reality.

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Miami voters gave city officials permission Tuesday to negotiate a no-bid lease deal with Beckham’s group, which wants to build a Major League Soccer complex on what has been a public golf course. Beckham’s group is also planning to have technology offices, a hotel and retail space on the land, in return for guaranteeing the city about $3.6 million in rent annually.

It’s not a done deal: Now the retired soccer star and his partners must negotiate the terms with city officials for the 25,000-seat stadium and transforming the rest of what is now the Melreese Country Club into a 58-acre (23-hectare) public park.

Tuesday’s win was the first big one for Beckham’s club, officially named Club Internacional de Futbol Miami – or Inter Miami. Beckham has considered and wanted several other sites over the years, before turning his attention to Melreese in recent months.

“I started this dream five and a half years ago … to bring a team to Miami, to bring a team to this great city,” Beckham said at a rally Tuesday night. “To bring a team to you, the people. We’ve had some speed bumps along the way. We’ve had a few problems along the way.”

Beckham’s group has also committed to spend about $35 million to clean up toxic waste at the site and pay a living wage for employees.

The land deal had critics on multiple fronts, with some like Miami native and longtime pro golfer Erik Compton asking voters to save the course and others filing legal challenges saying the city is required to not only have competitive bidding but to get fair market value when selling or leasing property.

“On behalf of all of us at Major League Soccer, we thank the community for its support, and Miami city officials for their leadership,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber wrote in a thread on Twitter.

Beckham is a global icon when it comes to soccer, entertainment and fashion. He started his career with Manchester United and also played for Real Madrid, the Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. He was a fixture in international matches for England for years and won four championships in four different leagues around the globe.

“We’ve proved to the world that persistence, patience, makes things happen,” Beckham said. “We are going to bring a championship winning team. We are going to bring great players. We are going to create homegrown talent.”