It's in the very infantile stages. That is to say, it's just an idea that's come up. But the Fort Lauderdale organization Envision Uptown is working on a seedling of an idea to convince David Beckham to bring his MLS club to Lockhart Stadium.
It's bold as it is brash, and it's just crazy enough to be a reality.
Envision Uptown is comprised of heavy hitting business owners and locally headquartered companies -- including Citrix, Bosch, Microsoft, Alpine, and Zimerman Advertising, to name a few -- that want to renovate uptown Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding executive airport area. The group sees a crack in the door for an opportunity to sell the area as a sports and entertainment hub where Beckham's soccer club would be at the center.
"I was looking at the area where Lockhart is, and I asked why aren't we paying more attention to development in the executive airport area?" Cary Goldberg, a real estate developer who sits on Envision Uptown's economic board, tells New Times.
Envision's -- vision -- is to make the area near I-95 and Cypress into it's own version of Atlantic Station, the shopping and entertainment complex built in the middle of midtown Atlanta in Georgia.
The concept is simple: build around the airport, raze Lockhart, and use the space to build a brand new sports and entertainment facility that would not only house an MLS team, but also serve as a place where local little league soccer clubs can play.
Businesses, family friendly atmosphere, and a professional soccer team owned by the most famous soccer icon of our time. Pretty nifty.
"There are major companies headquartered in the area," Goldberg says. "Microsoft's South American headquarters, as well as Citrix's global headquarters are right by the airport. And the best thing about it is, there's already infrastructure. We won't have to displace people."
And Beckham and his MLS club playing in a re-built Lockhart would be at the heart of it.
Goldberg says that all it would take would be the backing of local businesses, and an OK from city officials. After that, the ball would be in Beckham and his investor's court.
With Beckham having trouble securing a spot to build a stadium in Miami-Dade, in addition to the tax-payer snags that it would bring, the international football star has made veiled threats to take a look at Broward County as a possibility. This prompted New Times to come up with a list of places in Broward Beckham could do just that.
This emboldened Envision to start the wheels turning.
"We saw your article," Goldberg says. "And we thought, look at this. We're not the only ones thinking about this."
And, as we pointed out in our article, Envision Uptown too sees Lockhart as giving something Miami-Dade can't give fans: easy access to and from the venue.
Envision is working with a real estate advisor to set something up with city officials.
"We're just getting things stirred up to see if there's any interest," Goldberg says. "We're not going after tax payer money, there's no residential here. We're already setting up to meet with the mayor, and commissioner Bruce Roberts to discuss a package and figure things out. The key is that we have to get the businesses behind the idea."
Citrix, Goldberg says, has already shown interest in the idea. And that's a start.
"There's development opportunities by the executive airport, and we have 70,000 employees in the area. If we can put together the right package, we truly believe businesses would get behind it financially. There's a lot of property to build for businesses here to rejuvenate the area and turn it into a sports and entertainment hub."
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