Ahead of Messi arrival, debate over permits, safety surrounds Inter Miami stadium expansion

DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale (WPLG)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The soccer world will soon be shifting its focus to South Florida.

Lionel Messi’s first game with Inter Miami is expected to take place July 21.

“This will be the first home game so we’re very excited about that,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.

Trantalis says city leaders and representatives from Miami Beckham United met Tuesday afternoon.

The $1.4 million overdue by Inter Miami for permit fees, which cost the soccer club use of a parking lot, now sits in escrow.

“They’re in the escrow account of the mediator and we’re hoping we get that resolved,” said Trantalis.

DRV PNK Stadium is in Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner John Herbst’s district.

“That’s not really final at this point because we still need to conclude an escrow agreement that provides for what happens to funds in case we come to an impasse a second time,” said Herbst. “All I’m asking them to do simply is live up to the promises they made to my district and the city of Fort Lauderdale.”

At issue is a promised park which has yet to be built.

“I think both parties are trying to deal in good faith and I think some of the delay resulted in misunderstandings and expectations,” said Trantalis.

Herbst doesn’t necessarily agree with the mayor’s sentiment, though.

“We’ve seen no movement whatsoever, so I’m not sure where the representation that they’re acting as a good faith partner comes from,” he said.

Team part-owner Jorge Mas reportedly hopes to meet the increased demand for Inter Miami tickets by adding 3,000 seats to the Fort Lauderdale stadium.

“There are certain corners where the stadium has some openings that they can add bleachers and various other seating arrangements,” said Trantalis.

Wednesday morning, Local 10 News observed workers and a crane lifting metal pieces, but both Trantalis and Herbst say no permits have been pulled for work just yet.

“Candidly, that’s improper to say the least,” said Herbst. “The fire marshal hasn’t even gone up there and determined whether this is permissible from a life safety perspective. I don’t understand why anyone thinks it’s appropriate that you just go up there and start building things without permits, without having proper procedures in place.”

About the Author:

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.