The long wait to watch David Beckham’s Miami MLS franchise play in all the promised glitziness has hit yet another unfortunate snag: the ground where Inter Miami’s ritzy new stadium is to be built is literally poisoned.
A new report, first published by the Miami Herald, claims that the golf course Inter Miami plans to build the new stadium on has dangerous levels of arsenic, barium, and lead in the soil. According to the Herald, a consulting environmental agency hired by the franchise to test the site’s soil discovered that the underground contamination is pervasive and, in some places, up to twice the regulatory allowed amount for arsenic. The report also found a variety of debris within the soil at the site, which is covered with ash from an incinerator that was shut down years before. Seems pretty bad!
The city of Miami is calling for another round of testing, also to be paid for by the team, but as it stands now, the golf course is unsafe for Inter Miami’s plans. That puts the future of the stadium site in jeopardy; Miami mayor Francis Suarez says cleaning up the site could cost upwards of $50 million before any construction can begin. Prior to Monday’s findings, the club expected to spend about $35 million to clean up the site for the proposed $1 billion “commercial and stadium complex.”
Inter Miami have had no shortage of problems in trying to find a site for a stadium. The team previously looked at PortMiami, Museum Park, Little Havana, and Overtown, all with little success. Only in November of last year did a public referendum approve the use of the Melreese Country Club golf course as the site for the complex.
In the meantime, Inter Miami will play their home games in their inaugural season next year at the site of the old Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, the former home ground for the now-defunct Miami Fusion. The old stadium was demolished earlier this year, with plans to build a new, smaller stadium on the site already in motion. This smaller stadium will serve as the training ground for Inter Miami, as well as the home ground for the club until the new stadium is built.
In spite of the franchise’s original plans of a luxe stadium smack dab in downtown Miami, the remote Lockhart Stadium site is about 45 minutes away from Miami proper. Not quite what anyone hoped for, but sitting in horrible South Florida rush-hour traffic to watch some swampy MLS action is probably better than a convenient commute with a side of arsenic poisoning.