USL team in mind as Inter Miami CF plans Lockhart renovation, youth academy

It was part of a larger announcement yesterday, but largely overlooked. As part of its proposal to the City of Fort Lauderdale for a redevelopment of Lockhart Stadium and surrounding land, Inter Miami CF shared its intention to form a United Soccer League (USL) team in Broward County.

The sentence that answered a key question about the club came on page 2 of the proposal.

“The Team Facilities will also serve as home to Inter Miami’s men’s Division II professional soccer team, a United Soccer League (“USL”) member,” the statement read.

A few pieces of information can be gleaned from this sentence. Because the “team facilities” as defined in the proposal includes the Lockhart renovation, it’s an almost certainty the stadium would become the new home of USL in South Florida. Second, because the club is identifying the USL member as part of “Division II,” it would have to be a team in the USL’s “USL Championship.” The USL Championship was simply known as USL prior to 2019.

Major League Soccer reserve teams are scattered throughout the United Soccer League structure. Most can be found in the USL Championship, while USL League One is the home for affiliates of  Minnesota United FC, Orlando City SC, Toronto FC, and FC Dallas.

Most soccer fans in Broward will be wondering about the branding of the team, and whether this announcement could provide a much-desired return to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to Lockhart Stadium.

Strikers return to Lockhart?

The last incarnation of the Strikers, which folded in 2017, had its intellectual property (including its name) put up for auction. Bill Edwards, the former owner of the rival Tampa Bay Rowdies, bought the remnants of the club for $5,100 later that year. He never has announced plans for the property, but Edwards might be more inclined to bring the Strikers back with a league partner.

We are obviously many months away from getting a firm answer on whether the Lockhart redevelopment will take place and what role USL will play in that redevelopment. But the drama and intrigue involving Major League Soccer in Miami-Dade County may have just jumped the border.

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