Enter Inter Miami, thanks to David Beckham
South Florida is home to the Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and now.... MLS franchise team Inter Miami CF.
David Beckham has brought professional soccer back to South Florida.
On the first day of March, his expansion franchise Inter Miami CF kicked off its season - playing its first game not at its Florida home base, but in California against Los Angeles FC.
The brand-new South Florida MLS soccer team, which Beckham co-owns with the Mas family, lost 1-0 to LAFC but for the team and sports world, it was a historic match.
It was a dream that became a reality for soccer legend Beckham and a project nearly seven years in the making. Beckham didn’t expect that his plan to field a Miami team would take so long. He first announced his dream project in 2014.
"I thought I would be up and running in two years after that,” Beckham said. “But that's when all the drama started,” Beckham told USAToday.
Beckham didn’t anticipate the challenges that come with buildings, permits and city politics that surround setting up a home base.
An official soccer stadium is still in the works just east of Miami International Airport.
Until then, Inter Miami will play at the former Lockhart Stadium in North Fort Lauderdale. It will also serve as the team's training facility and house a youth soccer academy and additional soccer teams down the road.
Lockhart Stadium has quite a history housing South Florida sports. It was the home field for the Miami Fusion MLS team (the team folded in 2002), the Florida Atlantic University Owls football team (from 2002-2010 while FAU Stadium was being built) and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers professional soccer team (founded in 1977).
Back in the day, my father would often bring my brother Brandon and me down to Lockhart Stadium for Strikers games. Brandon even attended the Strikers soccer camp.
At that time, there were no pinnies to make one team divide into two. Shirts and skins was a real thing!
Brandon has remained a striker - only now on the football field. His strong soccer skills led him into the world of football placekicking and punting.
Following successful high school, collegiate and Arena football kicking careers, Brandon established Kornblue Kicking, one of the nation’s premier placekicking, punting and snapping academies.
And one day back in May of 2016 when Brandon was holding one of his Showcase events at Florida International University’s stadium, a man named David Beckham stepped onto the field.
Beckham was there scouting out potential locations for this soon-to-be professional soccer team.
Brandon greeted the soccer sensation asking Beckham “Any interest in kicking a field goal?”
With a smile, Beckham kindly declined but did offer each of Brandon’s kicking students a handshake and a photo op.
Even Coach Kornblue got in on the fun.
“He was so gracious. It was unbelievable,” Brandon recalls.
With Beckham as co-owner, Inter Miami has the potential to be unbelievable. And the program and facilities that come with it will be great for South Florida youth soccer development.
Inter Miami's first home game in Fort Lauderdale will be on March 14 against the LA Galaxy, the team Beckham left Real Madrid for in 2007.
For more on how the Inter Miami team has redeveloped Lockhart Stadium, click here.
For some history behind Lockhart Stadium and Fort Lauderdale Stadium (one-time home to New York Yankee & Baltimore Oriole spring training camps), click here.
For a few laughs and handsome gents, watch Beckham on one of my favorite shows, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
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