What we know about David Beckham’s and FXE Futbol’s competing bids for Fort Lauderdale site

Fort Lauderdale has sparse financial details for its decision Tuesday on the future of professional soccer in Broward County, and the fate of Lockhart Stadium, new memos from the city auditor and city attorney confirm.

But the decision comes down to choosing a concept: Does Fort Lauderdale want to temporarily host soccer legend David Beckham’s Major League Soccer team and become its permanent training and talent-development hub? Or will it become home field for soccer businessman JP Reynal’s planned lower-league professional soccer team, sharing the acreage with commercial-retail development and a proposed golfing entertainment venue?

The 64-acre sports park in northern Fort Lauderdale sits unused, overgrown with weeds and brush. Its possible resurrection as a community gathering place for sports has many people interested. Jilted soccer fans who still mourn the demise of professional soccer teams who played in Lockhart are watching Fort Lauderdale closely.

In community meetings Monday night, residents wanted to know how much the city would have to spend, and how much the city would reap financially. They asked how many nights the local football teams could use the fields. Community activist Mary Fertig said the stadium was built with city money, the result of a community-driven process in 1947. She asked if the new stadium would be available to Fort Lauderdale high schools and middle schools and for city events.

FINANCES: FXE said it has a $50 million financing commitment from Longpoint Realty Partners. Compendium Partners would finance $35 million toward a Topgolf entertainment facility. Reynal acknowledged Topgolf also is considering opening in Pompano Beach but said he’d secure something similar — like Drive Shack — if that happened. Beckham’s group said it is not dependent on outside financing but has a commitment from Goldman Sachs.

TIMELINE: Beckham’s group said it would obtain permits, break ground on the new stadium in July, and have it complete in February, in time for the soccer season. It has already applied for a ULS League One team to play there. FXE said it would take up to six months to negotiate a city lease, then up to a year for detailed plans and permitting, then up to a year and a half for construction, which would be phased. The new USL Championship team would start playing in 2021.

In a Sunday memo, City Auditor John Herbst said he was hampered by a lack of information and couldn’t analyze the financial impact to the city. He also couldn’t give an opinion on the business plans for either proposal, to determine whether they appear viable.

“Neither proposal contained a business plan,” he wrote, “therefore we were unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence to provide a basis for an opinion as to the reasonableness of the plans.”

Boileau spelled out in his March 13 memo the information the city will need, including proposed “user fees, lease payments or other service payments.” Neither side has offered details of any financial return to the city for use of public land. His memo also says the city must “ensure a professional review” of the design and construction proposed, a step that hasn’t been taken. But the law governing unsolicited proposals provides the leeway for a ranking to be made Tuesday, anyway, he said Monday night.

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