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This is Drive Pink, the stadium that is home to the team where Lionel Messi will play
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This is Drive Pink, the stadium that is home to the team where Lionel Messi will play

(Spanish CNN) — Although Miami is widely known for its beaches, for the various sporting and cultural events it hosts, for the fun, celebration and joy it represents, and for the multiculturalism it embraces, football is not not even close to part of his letter of introduction to the world.

But everything changed on Wednesday June 7, when the news broke that Lionel Messi, the Argentine star, current world champion and seven-time Ballon d’Or, would come to play for the city team. The football planet has been completely revolutionized, so much so that many have taken to the internet to find out the nitty-gritty of their new team, Inter Miami, and what will be ‘La Pulga’ Messi’s new home, the Drive Stadium. Pink.

Front, Lockhart Stadium

Although it is home to the Inter Miami team, it is not located in this city, but about 40 kilometers north of it, in neighboring Fort Lauderdale.

The stadium, originally named Lockhart, was built in 1959 to host football and athletics competitions for four local high schools. It was not until 1977 that it would begin its connection with football, becoming the home of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, a NASL (North American Soccer League) team that had no major character.

Nearly 20 years later, Lockhart Stadium was on soccer fans’ radar again when it was renovated to house the Miami Fusion MLS (Major League Soccer) team, where Colombian Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama played. . His hiring would attract an audience and allow fans, especially of Hispanic origin, to get excited about the team. However, the happiness will not last long and the Fusion will play only four seasons, until 2001.

Between 2003 and 2016, the stadium had various uses, including carnivals and American football matches. For a few years it was the home of Miami FC, a second division professional soccer team that currently plays in the USL (United Soccer League).

Today Drive Pink Stadium

After being virtually abandoned and in disrepair, the ownership group of new football team Inter Miami, led by famed England player David Beckham, was granted a 50-year lease on the grounds, including Lockhart, as well as the permission to create a training academy with six pitches and a modular stadium, located exactly on the site of the old stadium.

In May 2019, Inter Miami began the process of demolishing the old stadium and began construction on Drive Pink. A race against time since the team’s debut in MLS was scheduled for March 2020. But they did not have any major problems, some elements of the project were delivered in advance and the stadium was ready on March 11. However, the covid-19 pandemic caused a postponement of the entire MLS season, which ran until August 22 of the same year, the home debut of Inter Miami.

Drive Pink, as the stadium was named, was selected to support AutoNation’s Drive Pink initiative, which raises and donates funds to support cancer research and treatment. Hence one of the reasons for the pink, as part of the team colors. The other reason has to do, its owners say, with the city of Miami’s Art Deco culture.

In addition to the MLS team, the club has the MLS NEXT Pro team Inter Miami CF II and an academy for young people aged 12 to 17 under the MLS NEXT program.

the village stadium

The initial concept of the modular stadium has been simplified and optimized in an attempt to meet the established delivery deadlines of the works. Designed by Manica Architects, the stadium has been divided into many independent elements that can be easily prefabricated and not always dependent on each other.

The complex includes pitches and other facilities for Inter’s first team and academy, as well as public areas including jogging and walking paths, a children’s park, a dog park, a artificial turf and other pitches and facilities.

The stadium is made up of four rectangular stands for a capacity which, initially, was envisaged for 18,000 spectators and which finally accommodated 19,100 supporters. The stands, fully modular and easy to dismantle, are not connected to other elements.

On the east and west sides, two structures with a height of 27 meters each were built to support the roof of the stadium. One of the stands was not built on the ground floor but on a single-storey building of 4,600 square meters, which provides everything necessary for players and referees, while integrating 23 premium boxes into the ground level and associated services. One of the corners of the stadium has a modular pavilion which includes a VIP terrace.

The future, with or without Messi

Long before Messi’s surprise hiring became known, it was clear to team owners, fans and the general populace that Inter Miami’s final venue would not be this stadium.

In November 2018, citizens, by referendum, voted in favor of the construction of Miami Freedom Park, a recreational destination with 58 hectares of public parks, green spaces, several football fields that can be used by youth teams from the area, a technology center, restaurants, shops and a stadium with a capacity of 25,000 spectators, which would be the new home of the Beckham team.

Located near Miami International Airport and with 100% private financing, it would be the next home of Messi’s new team. The current stadium and surrounding area would be the team’s future training complex and Fort Lauderdale CF, which plays at the USL One level, would become the main tenant of DRV PNK Stadium.

Although there is still no exact date for the delivery of the project, it is estimated that it could be ready for the 2025 MLS season.