112: The Once & Future Soccer Legacy of Ft. Lauderdales Lockhart Stadium With Jeff Rusnak


Lockhart stadium was once home to the strikers into the fusion. But now inner Miami or hey moss. David Beckham says this dilapidated overgrown park will now be the first home of inner Miami CF, David Beckham in Jorges Maas. The owners of inter Miami CF emerged from the we debt Lockhart stadium with a big announcement for their team. We're here to announce today that you know, we will play our first two seasons of MLS here at the new stadium located here in Lockhart in the city of for Lauderdale. It may look like a post apocalyptic scene from a movie with hints of pass soccer team still hanging around. But their hope is to transform all of this into a home, not just for them a less team. But a subdivision USSL squad as well. As an academy for one hundred sixty two two hundred young prospects. It's all about the academy and the future of the kids in this. Great city today is groundbreaking day for us because we hope to announce an hope to have the support to bring. Our kademi, the heart and soul of our organization to south Florida speaking with or hey Ma after the press conference he says plans in Miami. And the Mel recite are going ahead as planned with a target date of two thousand twenty two in mine. But until then soccer goes back to itself, Florida routes with more than just to make over, but more importantly also activating this site with an eighteen thousand seat brand new stadium. It will not be refurbishing the site to location that we've been dreaming about location. We feel the gives the kids the community a real opportunity to live their dreams. Renovations won't go forward until the city of four lardo officials vote on their plans next Tuesday, but they need somewhere to play. And they say it helps make inter Miami south Florida team, not just Miami. My need a little bit Matric. But you know, I think the like Hoy said, you know, we will be in Miami an app commitment easily. So to south Florida cleanup. Demolition will take some time. They're going to have to remove all this stuff. It's gonna take about sixty to seventy five days, they hope to break ground in July. That means this place would be opened sometime February in twenty twenty at Lockhart stadium like Cuneo CBS four news. Welcome to good seats. Still available a curious little blood cast devoted to exploring. What used to be in professional sports? Here's your host, Tim Hanlin. Well, you know, as the old Chinese proverb says may you live in interesting times. Hi, my name is Tim Hanlin. And this is good seats still available. It's the curious little podcast that is devoted to what used to be in professional sports are little journey each every week into the exploration exploration. He says of such teams and leagues no longer with us to funk, otherwise located whatever our little sort of excursion into the annals of time. You know, it's an effort on our part to to try to keep a bunch of these shows sort of in not only historical perspective, but also trying to keep them timely with today's events. Right. We we just live in the past. And we try to you know, divine some lessons for the future. And or maybe even the president God forbid and this week's episode. I think is a really good example of how we strive to do that. And and how literally some of the stories and adventures that we we traverse in our in our. Dialing back on the way back machine have lasting impact and door lessons for a things going forward. And this week. Our guest is Jeff Rusnak. He is the longtime columnist of soccer and other sports for the sun sentinel down in Fort Lauderdale slash south, Florida. And we're going to be talking today as the that news clip from cut just a couple of weeks ago. Indicates is a multifaceted story that circles around the sport of soccer particular, an interesting little, you know, somewhat ramshackle of a stadium arguably punching above its weight for many years over pro soccer's history. Certainly dating back to the nineteen seventies. That's a little stadium called Lockhart stadium in Fort Lauderdale Florida area that is now interestingly having been sort of the the locus of soccer heat if you will during the nineteen seventies starting nineteen seventy seven with the old North American Soccer leagues Fort Lauderdale strikers. Very interesting story that kind of begins little journey with Jeff in just a couple of moments that sort of wended its way through knowledge of the history of the North American Soccer league, but its demise. Some rumblings of leagues that tried to pick up the slack. The another incarnation of the American Soccer League. And and a few others the reborn North American Soccer league, and the Miami fusion actually of Major League Soccer. Another key part of the story all of these teams called Lockhart stadium a charitably. Guess you could call it a high school football stadium before the Robby family, then owners of the Miami Dolphins and this new fledgling relocated Fort Lauderdale striker franchise having been in nineteen seventy six the Miami Toro's playing in the Orange Bowl in found this largely high school football stadium in in the the wilds of Fort Lauderdale and literally transformed it sixteen thousand. In some seats, depending on the year on the date, you're asking into as little soccer cauldron hotbed if you will. That was just an amazing place to take in top tier professional soccer in this country. Why is it important now? Well, as if you've been following the probably the news Major League Soccer is back after its initial folly were four Ray with the Miami fusion back of the day. Again, a big part of our stories. We'll get to Jeff and a few few seconds as the the new Miami excursion, shall we say into Major League Soccer begins its journey. It's called club. Inter a CF. I think it's club Internationale the football, and as many people know or Miami aficionados of the sport. No that is the David Beckham Jorges moss owned entity that is doing its darndest to get a stadium built in the city of Miami proper. But as history shows, and we'll get to in our conversation with Jeff Rusnak and a few minutes. The storylines seem to be vaguely similar to some of the issues that both the Fort Lauderdale strikers in North American saga, and especially the Miami fusion, the Miami fusion playing in Fort Lauderdale, those names actually matter here, we are once again in the debate over where to locate a team a soccer team either in the city of Miami. And here comes Fort Lauderdale all over again to kind of save the day as as club inter as starts to recognize that they gotta start playing next season. And they don't have a stadium in Miami yet. So we get an all of that very interesting story of the past the present. And the whatever future that awaits club inter of Major League Soccer, David Beckham and friends learning maybe from or maybe not the lessons of Lockhart stadium. The miami. Fusion MLS is first attempt at soccer in the Miami, south Florida region, and perhaps. Most most pointedly the original Fort Lauderdale strikers of the old original North American Soccer league dating back to the late nineteen seventies. All of that is the focus of our very interesting and multi-layered conversation with Jeff Rusnak in just a couple of seconds. I just want to promote one of our great sponsors before we get to this conversation. And I guarantee you will find it intriguing and relevant and encourage you to enjoy it as I did just a couple of days ago, our friends at sports history, collectibles dot com. Are absolutely worth your at your time and your visit when you go to their website, it's sports history, collectibles dot com. And by golly one wanted should please. By all means use that promo code that. We give to you just about every week here, and that's good seats. Yup. Good seats. That's the promo code when you go to sports history, collectibles dot com. And by using that coat at checkout. What are you going to get you're gonna get fifteen percent off all of your purchases? And yes some. Fans, you will find a bunch of pieces of memorabilia, some great penance and some buttons some programs a couple of media guides even from both. Yes. The Fort Lauderdale strikers of the old North American Soccer league actually a championship program for when they played for the the pro soccer championship of nineteen eighty nine. When the western soccer alliance and the American Soccer League played to a championship Fort Lauderdale did not win that championship. They were in that final game. You'll find a copy pristine version or copy of that program from that game as well as a Miami fusion media guide or to all kinds of fun stuff. Not just soccer, but football and baseball and all kinds of sports Olympics in there foot. You name the sport. It's in there. And you're gonna find some really really cool stuff. There's new inventory just about every week. There are friends dean Mitchell and team down in San Diego are the curator's have such. So give them a try willia-. And of course when? You make your purchases at sports history, collectibles dot com. Shame on you. If you do not use that promo code good seats because you will then not get and enjoy fifteen percent off all of your purchases, and again, that's sports history. Collectibles dot com. Visit their early is they're often. And we thank dean tremendously verse continued sponsorship of this show. And of course, we thank you tremendously. For listening to our fun chat with our new friend. Jeff, Rusnak and conversation around soccer and south Florida. Both the past the present. And let's see what the future is. Here's our chat that we had just a couple of days ago, actually and hope you enjoyed it. It's interesting that we're recording this episode around the time when the new were supposedly still new Major League Soccer franchise in Miami is still gelling shall we say? So I appreciate your taking time to kind of get us into some of the I guess the back story of what will might be the sort of future of soccer in south Florida. But before we get there. Why don't you kind of tell our audience a bit of who you are? And what makes you so qualified as that will become evident to kinda pine on this this topic because you've been sort of on the soccer scene in south Florida for a long time. No. Yeah. Well, I grew up playing like any American kid. I'm I'm I'm as old as Lockhart stadium, which is gonna face demolition this week. So the timing of our conversation, I think is is actually quite good for for the things that you just outlined. But I I was just a sports kid growing up. And just we got the strikers came in nineteen seventy seven or only real professional sports team that we've that we've had in Broward County until the Florida Panthers came in a few years ago. Just went to a game. I game was Pele with the cosmos coming in it was, you know, as big as social and cultural event is would probably had in the county that that year and thinking to say, I became you know, swimmed or turned on in one night. But it was it was just a fascinating environment to be in. And didn't know anything about the game. And still by the time the team left in nineteen eighty three strikers left and in eighty three that it gained some knowledge a sense of it. But it was still the the fourth or fifth sport even down here where the Miami Dolphins and then university of Miami football, and then, you know, just baseball and hockey and basketball the way that hockey pied such a space in in American life and sporting life, and I guess I pr-. Probably got. Well, I got a job at the sun sentinel entry level job at the sun sentinel in nineteen eighty five, and we I would just take calls in from from high school coaches basketball. Swimming, tennis, whatever the results were soccer, and it would get to play off time, and they would ask okay. We need somebody to go out and cover cover game. So I got sent out did my first byline was was a soccer game, my alma mater, south plantation, high school covered a game right at the field where I'd grown up playing. And it was fun. You know, and and the game was was different from all of our other games in the constant movement constant sense of possibility of the play changing of constantly having to be actively involved in the play. Unlike baseball where you know baseball, these long intervals of conversation while you're waiting for, you know, somebody's still second or you know, to to bring the run home and just. Kind of that that I guess origin that I got from the strikers sorta kicked in a little bit. And I the next year the high school playoffs came, and I we had a team here Saint Thomas acquaintance, which has gone on since then to win. I don't know fifteen or seventeen state championships. And we were watching the girls team grows team. And I'm watching them play. And I'm going I've never really seen soccer. Like this before they were so good. So composed on the ball. So elegant in the way, they played and it just became a game for me that that I just slowly began to to really turn onto and that was my first writing gig and at newspapers at the time, nobody was really paying down the door to cover the soccer team. And it was usually entry level person. You know, someone who wasn't going do do the NFL or the NBA or or any of the other big sports. So I was you know, a willing accomplice in in that scenario to volunteer and did a. A little bit in nineteen ninety covering a few games in nineteen Ninety-one was the reporter for the Fort Lauderdale strikers for a bit and actually left the paper after ninety one and then didn't have really anything to write about. And I always just kept coming back to the game. There's something in this game. I never made a living from it. Tim never made a living from it. I promise you. I was mentioned previously in the SPN story by Carlisle that I'm a retired soccer writer, nobody I do not retire off my earnings from soccer believe me, but the game has always been part of part of my life, and I've never really been able to shake it, and it and it keeps circling back so probably by the mid nineties when MLS came in and that was really after the World Cup in ninety four MLS started. And that was the real sense that the game had foundation and went to the sun. Sentinel freelance writer at the time I made a proposal to do a soccer column and. The the editor Fred Turner too. I had worked for previously said. Yeah. Sure, you know papers, then had twenty eight pages if you held them open, you know, they stretched across like, you know, two seats, they were gigantic papers, and we covered everything. So I got got a soccer column, and I really became sort of the place where I was able to hone a voice for writing about the game. And by white writing about it weekly just having that engagement where where I had to deepen my knowledge because I was out there every week telling people what I thought I knew and so ever since then really I've I've just been involved in some form or fashion writing about the game did some TV work radio show, and it just never leaves me. And then here we are now with inter Miami circling back, and you know, we start up again next year with with another MLS team that will play its first two seasons. We. I understand in Fort Lauderdale. And so yeah, that's kind of how I came to it. And I don't know if I'm I'm an expert, but I've been doing it a long time. So I have some institutional knowledge at the very least. Well, no. And that's that's good because we're always looking for excuses for going deep into various teams and scenarios and stuff. And and as you said earlier, this is a very timely conversation, given the I don't know let's say, let's call it ongoing trauma around this new Major League Soccer franchise in Miami. But maybe a good place to start would be sort of around the structure that seems to be sort of the thread of the past the the long past that the recent past and potentially part of some form or fashion the future appro soccer in in south Florida that's Lockhart stadium. Why don't you give our audience, especially those not familiar with that stadium and door south Florida, generally about sort of the little? Story about I guess that that the history of white became interestingly somewhat of such a focal point for soccer down south in Florida. Yeah. Lockhart is very modest started out as a very modest high school football stadium was built in nineteen Fifty-nine. Basically two sets of grandstands about eight thousand seats on either side about thirty rose up. Maybe you know, ninety yards Downey sideline. And at the time. It was built in fifty nine. It was so far removed from downtown Fort Lauderdale, but people would complain how far they had to drive to get to it. You know, now it's of geographically located more or less in the center of of Broward County, and it's fairly close to Palm Beach county. So it's geographically it's it's very well played football stadium for for a number of years and as a kid growing up. That's that's how you knew Lockhart. You went to high school football games there. And on the big big games. It was packed. And it was an occasion and. Sometimes the games would be played on radio here. And in fact, the year bef- of of my graduation, nineteen seventy seven just prior to that I'd been going to watch my team south limitation high play LA carte stadium. The strikers came in in nineteen seventy seven moved for Miami. They were the Miami Gatos, and then the my Toro's and then the Robby family which owned the Miami Dolphins watt. The team pay had come in and seventy five nineteen seventy five with the cosmos. And this was the soccer boom happening and NFL owners couldn't own two teams at the time. So Joe Robbie had his wife was technically oh wife. Elizabeth was technically the owner, and it was pretty much a family business. So they started the strikers in seventy seven in Lockhart and it remained a high school football stadium. But since the strikers went in it's it's really identified as an I I believe in Konic. Soccer stadium in in the United States. And at the time. There was a running track around around the the field. They I think they put some stands on both ends. And so they got the the the seating to about ten thousand or so the strikers went out won their first four games were tops in the league that season nineteen seven record loss to the cosmos in the playoffs. But the, but the as Ray Hudson who played for the team back, then and still lives here, and his friend of mine, you know, that was the spark of a revolution. And it it transformed that space for whatever high school football could do in that space. It couldn't match. What strikers game was the place was so alive, so vibrant such a happening spot people who had no idea. None of us knew anything about soccer. We knew you kick the ball with the side of your foot. Not your show, you know, and at that time. The NFL kickers all soccer style kickers. But you know, it was a revolution to have someone. Come in in the sixties kick the ball the side of their foot drew up kicking balls with our tell. So we we had no idea really who the players where we had no context we had no media. That would tell us who was Ray Hudson. We had now raised on conic figure they should be able to statue for him at the new place. So we were so so new to it. And I think that was part of the charm is that we really didn't know. And and when the the game was so good, the quality was so good and the atmosphere that we were able to create their just turned on a lot a lot of people, and I would say a lot of people who who went in in subsequent teams that came along. I I don't necessarily knew know that they came back. I think the strikers created something very unique special that can never be replicated down here. But what it did? And what we're still doing here is or chase. Facing that that magic chasing that ghost bat was created in those seven years that the strikers were here, and we've not been able to duplicate it since and every time a team comes through. And it's it's kind of a running joke there that I say they you know, they end up in Fort Lauderdale at Lockhart stadium. You know, it's the magnet that that keeps pulling and and we're big reason for that. I think is just the unique intimacy of the stadium because it was very modest high school stadium. Seating was pretty close to the to the to this field. You were literally, you know. I mean, if you could throw a baseball, you know, fifty fifty yards you you could you know, hit someone that make field with it. I mean, it was you were right there and the players could feel that. And they the strikers are famous for doing something that American teams don't do after a game. They would jog around the field and applaud the fans and thank them and wave to the fans and. The fans were were no more than twenty thirty feet away from them. They would go to the fence shake their hands drink with them after the games at a place called peer street annex. So that stadium because it was so modest on and threadbare really it create. It was able to form a kind of a bond with the team that a big stadium cannot, and we we are we keep going back to it over and over and over again every team that comes through here ends up at Lockhart. And we're looking now Monday at this the beginning of the demolition of the stadium and the the minor league baseball stadium right next to it making way for for inner Miami. And as someone who's lived in that stadium, virtually as a reporter as a fan as as a kid in high school, it's time it's actually time to let go, but the the thing that's been. Invade very very clear to inner Miami. And they understand this is that if you tear down Lockhart, you cannot lose the lock art name the Lockhart name stays, and they in their stadium model video that they've put out about their their site plan. It is called Lockhart. And and I think that's a very it's a smart thing to do. 'cause I think they'll they'll keep the support in Broward County, they won't lose the port. And and they won't lose that legacy. It's it's a it's I wouldn't have imagined that this little place could still hold our heart in a way that it still does. But it does and it and now it's onto a kind of a future of Lockhart is an entirely different composition. And I think it will be a good one for from where we are in Broward County and Fort Lauderdale right now. Yeah. So growing up as a cosmos fan. And watching games from Fort Lauderdale on the embarrassment of riches because we got to see every every away game on the master channel. That was w WR channel nine in New York. It was a revelation, right? It was, you know, having gone a games seventy seven seventy eight where you're talking you'd obviously very famous Fort Lauderdale game. Which is at the time was the largest crowd ever. Watch North American Soccer league games. A playoff game later that season seventy seven eight eight eight two three score. We watched it on PBS. It was like it was like a basketball game. You know, the Cosmo's would score. The strikers would get it the cosmos would get it back and go scored again it was. It was a magic a lot different levels. I'm as peeling rain. It's twenty thousand people couldn't get in. But but then then to juxtapose that with. This again from an outsider's television kids purview, right? This someone seemingly ramshackle oddity. But amazingly interesting and clearly the intensity coming across on the screen of this sort of small somewhat crackerjack kinda, you know, boxy, you know, clearly, not gigantic giant stadium. Right. Clearly was unique. And quite an I would argue an advantage. All right. The kickoff is taking over along with yours. Curly. Howard David now for the play by play. Jim carlos. I our on their tack Fort Lauderdale Cosmo zone. Broken up of the cosmos required by Riyadh sinister. Midfield player. He's going to direct the show here tonight. Gusmo took him out of the game Sunday in a giant stadium. But this is a new ballgame. Alberto. Now, the canal you the McFee line back to Carlos Alberto being Mark. Now look for Fort Lauderdale to Mark very closer. They're gonna go at very closely. They felt the gay the cosmos too much room at the giant stadium. They've got a more narrow field to work with here. It's going to be easier for them to Mark more closely. And here they come. Norman. About committed by Fort Lauderdale Ray Hudson committed the Bracken. Correction? It was Hudson that was found guy. We'll get it together. Here. Come the strikers on the attack. Here's a heart shot see by messing part shot from the left side. And this crowd is really up. And so the strikers Cosmo's waco's Wockhardt stadium bedlam here. Now, we had seventy seven thousand Howard, and they didn't make much more noise in these people are making the acoustics right here as well. Everything is relative Jimmy seventy seven thousand in giant stadium. I don't know that fourteen of fifteen here, but it's a sellout. I'm just wondering how that spark had of specialness sort of came about was it just simply that the relatively small size of it. Or was it? What do you think was that sort of extra secret sauce that sort of made that place such a I guess magical place in in retrospect, I think it was a lot of things, but probably the newness of everything when I went out to my first game is mentioned earlier the Cosmo's and that night canal. You Pele Beckenbauer score the goals at the time. I don't recall that it was the week. I graduated high school by the way, and and but he went out there. And you couldn't believe what was happening. In norristown. We were about a third of the size. We are now. And the only thing we had at the time. Sports wise, really was we when the Miami Dolphins you grow to that in Broward county's always support. Miami teams in Miami teams survival to really the support abroad county fans in many ways, we had minor league baseball. We had spring training baseball with the Yankees. But we never had anything that had a real sense of occasion to it. And the way the what happened with the strikers the first game. I think there was about six thousand one hundred and twenty three or so if I remember the number correctly, listen to it on the radio and. They won their first four games and down here when you win and you and you're bringing something fresh people will will be intrigued by and they'll show up. So not only do they win their first four games that first team had probably eight or nine or ten English players that had been brought over and one or two of them were fairly. Well, gordon. Banks was the goalkeeper he had actually was operating with just one good. I it at an injury that cost him sight in one eye. He was woke up goalkeeper with England nineteen sixty six known for making the greatest save in World Cup history. Nineteen seventy against pay. But that was about it really the the manager Ron Newman was English, and he had gone and poach these English players and they bought over. They all kind of most of them had this kind of long shaggy hair. They look like they could have just as easily been playing guitar in rock band. And and they were just very acceptable. Very charming, and and again, and this is a tradition in soccer that's different from from other games. And you see it today. Even wanna play comes off the field after putting in an effort to the crowd applauds and the player applauds back and the connection I think in in historically and just innate in soccer is the way players relate back to fans, and they brought that and we have not really seen that before. It was always the athlete was sort of on this pedestal. He was bigger than us. He was doing things we couldn't do and strikers came in. They win their first four games. They applaud the fans showing their appreciation after the after they had played. And then after the game. There was a social where they would go to a place called peer street antics, and there would be you know, the place was just overrun. And you'd be sitting. I didn't go there at the time. But I had a cousin who was there and she'd sit down, and you know, we'd sit there with George Best having a beer. And it just was an intimacy stager right there. No. I know the the best story George Best season was I incredible. But it was that intimacy that and and these guys Ron Newman was was the manager. And you you know of Ron, of course, and one passed away last year couldn't be a better ambassador, especially in in a town where the game was new and run was there were fabulous with the press. They were great. They were completely available and open to the press. And and it just became the the thing to do. And again, I we didn't know anything. But I was going with friends who, you know, we've go to watch dolphin games or or whatever, and we would just go out there and by season two or three they had a rock band playing in the end zone. You know, you partying in the parking lot. The the tailgate parties we had the weather year round where we could, you know, be outdoors even in the early part of the season. And it just became. Came this. The thing to do. In a place with a wasn't that much more to do besides go to the beach, and and it just caught on and it and it built at built and built and I heard you're probably a recent show with about the player strike in nineteen seventy nine and referencing that being about a peak period for the NFL. And I think nineteen eighty was probably that year, and you know, that season we averaged fourteen thousand game which in that stadium means, you know, if you just pay to two or three thousand of side, they were planning to near capacity on many, many nights and Cosmo's would come in couldn't get a ticket. And and they won and the family once they got a taste of what it could be. They went out just the way they did with the dolphins. And they got the best people and we had in our team within a few weeks. And the thing it was early part of seventy nine season tiffy could be as Peru's greatest player. Ever george. Best GERD Mueller Mueller was the all time leading goal score in World Cup up until fairly recently. So within a just a sweep of time we were internationalized into now from being this kind of quirky kind of local team with English players into an international brand with with players who were known all around the world, and that parade of Cowan continue to to come through it never replicated that first season that kind of magic at the first season. It became more of us. We expect them to win. We expect them to to you know, play for play for the trophy every year. So the pressure is became a little different. But there was always that that sense of occasion when you went to Lockhart. So we'll get to sort of what sort of transpired after the original strikers in a second. But any sense of why Lockhart stadium in the first place? Right. Because this is a team that originated in Miami as the Toro's, and you mentioned the the Robby. Ownership is part of it. And this is a naive question from somebody who's not sort of lived and grown up in the south Florida area. But obviously, it's a very expansive area. Right. The arguably going from West Palm Beach to the north all the way down to the you know, down south through Miami itself, proper and with Fort Lauderdale somewhat smack in the middle. Why Fort Lauderdale versus the and this'll maybe hint to the current situation the perceived the larger and or more shall we say ethnically diverse, and maybe even more money population further south in Miami itself proper. I in preparing to speak to you. I was trying to think through that same question myself. I you know, I was in high school at the time. So what was hap- what would happen in Miami? And this has happened with every single team in Miami. The idea that Miami is this sort of this melting pot this I think melting pot. It's perfect for soccer. I think is more true. Today than it. It has been back in the in the seventies. There was this idea that you know, they called them the got those okay got those Spanish for cat. And then the totals, you know, these are these are names that were built to appeal to to to Latinos the fact that it is is that in in the seventies. Miami was largely emerging as a satellite to Havana, really. And it was a Cuban population and Cubans are not soccer players soccer people Cubans are baseball people. And so there was this idea that while they're Latin they they must love soccer. And actually that was not the case at all. I think Miami struggled. Also, I think Miami didn't have maybe. And I don't know they still do have in Broward. There is the sense of more of a communal feeling families, you know, growing up big park spaces Miami. I think is this a little more of a hodgepodge. Of of kind of of areas where you're just not gonna get much support and the Orange Bowl requirement for for football. But you put four thousand people in the Orange Bowl and believe me. There is no sense of occasion, sitting among four thousand people in seventy eight or eighty thousand seat stadium the Robbie's. I not exactly I don't recall exactly the wise and wear force of why they came. But I I'm gonna guess that it was that they knew that. Well, being the owners of the dolphins might my guess is. They would have known where their audience was coming from for the Miami Dolphins. I grew up in plantation my which is about thirty minutes from downtown Miami. My dad took me to the first dolphins game. And Joe our takes the opening kick off ninety five yards. Touchdown dolphin jumps up in the end zone out of a pool of water. And and then this is great. Let's keep doing this. And so when we were dolphin fans and. Would there was going down to the Orange Bowl from Broward County was a traffic backup? So they had to know looking at at their audience that there was there were sports fans here in sports fans, the means to support another team. And and I don't think they they looked at the stadium. And they said it's big enough to start in what? And when we need more. It's easily adaptable to adding on. And that's I I guess for for me. Tim is just there was that time when you being in New York with a Cosmo's. It just sort of the cosmos sparked this this irrational exuberance in the game. And that probably was a little bit. What happened with a lot of owners, and you know, doing the work that you do with with your podcast. You know, the the list of teams that failed. The strikers managed to hang in there had to leave go to Minnesota and their last season because we wanted to have an indoor team as well. And they that was not successful here that way, but I just think they just looked at it. Like we want in on this. And we're not gonna play in Miami. Because we don't have the stadiums. Not right. And we're going to give it a go. And I don't know that they thought it would catch the way quite the way it did. But they were great owners the best still the best team owners. We've had here in my view up until the Arison family taking over the Miami Heat. They've been they were fantastic in the way they created a sensitive connections with their with both the dolphins. And then the strikers as well. Well, so that must have made it, especially. Difficult given that the team leaves to go to Minnesota in eighty three or so and so just oppose that with your shall we say initial foray into journalism because it's it's almost unfortunate. Right that this league and his team or centrally kind of Evaporating just as you're sort of getting your your feet wet and arguably recognizing that you've got some interest indoor facility with this. The sport of soccer, maybe a little bit of sort of the what becomes of Lockhart and the pro soccer scene with their departure because it was clearly fallow period of time before the I guess the second issue division of the a reconstituted American Soccer League. And it's clearly a much more minor league kind of existence in the years that followed right? Yeah. For me as a journalist said that would have really been another decade out. I think I just needed more. You know, the time in the seasoning as a writer to to kind of be. Be the fusion was really my time. And in terms of that when the strikers left I was at the last game. I had actually just moved back from a friend up in in Cape Cod. And we was up there for the summer. My dad got sick. I came home in August, and the strike I just happened to time it for the strikers last game and bazaar night. We're up 200 plan plan our skins plane out of their skins. They were brilliant and then gave up four goals in the last ten minutes. And it was a it was sort of one of those nights where we knew they were leaving. And it was one of those nights where it was. They showed us what we were going to miss when they were gone for those eighty minutes, and then they said don't get too attached. And let's end this relationship now, and they gave up four goals last one was the worst own-goal. I think I've ever seen Thomas wrong in just a little soft past the goalkeeper Yang van Beveren. And and not even looking at the ball just rolls. So slowly over the goal line. I don't even think it. The net. And that was it, and it was over, and but and this is this is the be all endings are really a beginning of something else. So this became the beginning of trying to recapture the strikers and that started the very next season. It was a a United soccer league was formed with nine teams around the United States. And of course, we had a team called the Fort Lauderdale sun that was placed in in that league. And the sun was the the champions for that year. I went to one game with my dad. I was other things were happening in my life at the time. But I went to a game knew what was going on a little bit by the second season. The owner had been busted for trying to smuggle two hundred thousand dollars worth of pot in through Laredo. And and that was the end of that team. And and then talk about a fallow period that they're literally the game died pretty much in this country odd thing in. Eighty four. Whereas the son was here. I'm watching. The Olympics were in LA that year, and I'm turn on the TV, and they showed a picture of Stanford Stadium for soccer match, and it was packed ninety eight thousand people in Stanford Stadium. They say, wow, look at that. And that. Attendance, though, the attendances they got in California for for the Olympics or the seed that put that led to the bid for the United States in nineteen eighty eight to go for the World Cup to be the host for the ninety four World Cup. And that's saved really the game in this country. Because if not for a all those people going to Stanford be inspiring decide time we did a World Cup here. We could we'd feel Sadia GMs for a month. They'll come they'll they'll be they'll they'll fill these stadiums. That bought bought brought the game back as once. They once the World Cup was awarded the United States in eighty eight another league starting American Soccer League, which of course, Fort Lauderdale came in as the Fort Lauderdale strikers in that league. And the the problem can with all minor leagues is I'm sure, you know, through your research is they all start with a good first night. If. The team is decent though. Hang in there for a little while. But there's no sustainable economic model for you can't make enough money selling tickets, no television money, no merchandise sales. And so our next version of the strikers, which was from nine hundred eighty two to ninety four started. Well, actually worked one season in ninety two got kind of an inside. You've how how am I r- league team works? And and then they they were they were gone by by ninety four gone through three or four different owners and everybody again, just believing they could that recapture the striker magic that we had been so privileged to experience previously. So that was an interval really. And I think the MLS coming in as a result of the World Cup in ninety four and that was part of the deal. The other part of the World Cup getting United States. Getting the bid is that the United States would have to start a professional soccer league first division. National soccer late comparable to what we had with the N ESL. And then that really I think has brought us into about a twelve year period there where I think the game was at a pretty anonymous state. And then now brought it back to MLS in ninety six. And then building it to where you know here. We are what twenty something years later with another team coming into south, Florida. And then and then a no new a new Lockhart getting birth here in the next over the next few. They've got a basically demolished this whole site in ninety days and then build a stadium build a training facility build offices. It'd be ready to go by January. So that's kind of you know, in in the linear of the story. That's that's that's where we are now in. Yeah. So I'm not sure that answers the question because I came as a journalist really in ninety ninety one and just, you know, everybody else had kinda peeled off taking another. Assignment. And I raise my aunt and said I'll I'll do that. I'll I'll go out. They knew they knew I like the game. And that that's really when I kinda got started at it. All right. We're gonna take a quick brief pause. 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They downloaded book free and gratis courtesy of yours truly here. It could still available and our friends at audible sank you. Audible, we appreciate it. And that we appreciate you joining our conversation once again. Well, let's talk about the fusion that because so you're you're mentioning the the tie between the World Cup and the expectation of a major league again, much the light of many fans of the old North American Soccer league, and pro soccer and having seen it it di- and with her, and, you know, pretty much lay fallow for quite some time. Maybe a little bit of an origin story about how the fusion sort of came about because they were not part of the original group of teams that started in ninety six they came along two years later with the time when I was a huge fan of the other expansion team the Chicago fire and quick little anecdote for all our soccer nerds out there. I was actually at the the first ever Miami fusion game, which was against my Chicago fire. I think that was the first game of fusion. I'm Mike and game. First person. We're at that game for I ever for the five. Yes, that was a revelation because that's where goalkeeper Zach Thornton actually stepped up that to be saved a penalty kick a whole bit that, you know, supposedly this Rama well, or or or post was going to be sort of this superstar goalie for the fire supposedly, but it's clear that, you know, having been that was my first trip ever to to Lockhart stadium. But I guess I'm really interested in its Revette origin story about how it was determined that the quote, unquote, Miami fusion in quotes for a reason, you know, I'm sure you're going to get to that was deemed worthy to be the first of the expansion franchises in this fledgling leagues history. Well, they the original group of Penn. Miami was always always going to be inconsideration and did not make the cut for the first ten, and and lack of ownership would be really the reason for that. I think the way the league was set up with that owner investor thing any they didn't. I didn't really come together for that first group. So the ninety six that was ninety six ninety eight was the year that you Kogyo, and then a Miami fusion came in and the owner of the Miami fusion at the time Ken Horowitz had an ownership stake in the MetroStars New York, New jersey MetroStars so he'd gotten a taste of the league. And he he he had made his money in telecommunications. And he bought a team for twenty million dollars and two years earlier the at the entrance feat again league was five million dollars. My first question to Ken was did. You overpay. You know, there's a five million dollar franchise two years ago. It's twenty million. Now, he says no that the value of the league is gonna those are famous last words for the fusion. So the the fusion I the way the Miami thing happened, they they weren't gonna go to lock I think they always had those that mindset on Miami. And and Miami is the glamour of it. Miami. Does resonate you say Miami, anywhere Latin America, they're gonna get it. They know what Miami is. And I think there was always the idea that Miami would be this connection to to Brazil and Argentina and Ecuador and Colombia where legit Colombian population here, then as well. And and that that that would give Melissa gateway into the Americas. So one of the things that was in play at the time was the state of Florida was giving sixty million dollars in renovation money to older stadiums. As long as they had a professional tenant the dolphins had moved on. So the Orange Bowl was was only had the university of Miami. Which would not make them eligible for this money. So besides the fact that they were gonna go to Miami because of the because it was Miami. And because of the connection to Latin America, there was stadium money that they thought they could get in that would have been two million dollars a year for thirty years. So. The city of Miami was real keen on getting that money to do stadium improvements, and then for the for the fusion, but the owner Ken Horowitz that would be a way to help pay for the you know, the the upgrades in the stadium and making a good fan experience. And all that. I don't think I think at the time though, when that when they hope to get that money that. That the state was looking at they didn't need to do this anymore. And I think that selloff in the other thing was happening is and this is what's happening. The same thing with you know, Miami it is much easier to do business in Broward County than it is in Miami date, and I can became frustrated with the progress that was being made in coming to a lease agreement, and it was not that great release agreement. I don't have details in front of me right at the other day. And I I looked at it. And I said not not really conducive to long term success. There's a guy I know known for a long time. I worked briefly in ninety two when I worked in the strikers office guy named Eddie Roger and Addy is was a trainer for the original strikers and Eddie went into sports management in the nineties and Eddie contacted Ken and said, you should take a look Lockhart and Eddie became the conduit for bringing Ken Horowitz into the history of Lockhart into what happened with when the when the strikers were here, and you know, in any owner, and I think at grandma's is doing this a little bit with inter Miami. With with Lockhart is having a, you know, a plan b a leverage. So Ken started talking to Santa Fort Lauderdale about renovating Lockhart stadium. Miami again hard to make to do business. The least not that good and over. Span of about two months. Ken just turn on a dime and decided in got the approval of city of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County to go in and this was in September, Tim he gets an agreement in September. The team's first game is in March the following March. So within a span of just a couple of months of of reevaluating, the the the the the logic of being in Miami coming to Miami putting putting money into the stadium having a much better lease deal and recreating that striker kind of magic that intimacy of the stadium. Can you know came in? They put the blazers up some seating around the end zone. New press box five million dollars on top of the twenty million paid and as the day of the first game against DC United which would have been the week before you were there. And they were literally, you know, still with paintbrushes gabbing certain areas of of of the stadium. They're working right up to the day of the first game to get the stadium ready. And and that that's you know, that's how that that started. And and the first game there were twenty thousand four hundred and fifty people total sell out. The unlike the strikers, though, the the fusion lost its first game soccer's opening day here Lockhart stadium in Fort Lauderdale. History has gone quite enough velocity. On our power to get it past goalkeeper, garlic. Nice pass on a pack to weigh the Senate. Kicks for DC. They split. The defence on the far side Sunday lays at back in William slaves at home. Five men wall at your very. Put him by sun. When the shot came in sauna lost his marker climate and the ball bound is put in he found the back of the net. It's to nothing DC Miami. Fusion history has begun. It begins with a two loss against DC. Missed an opportunity there to kind of turn the fans on it in the next week when you were there with with Chicago didn't score all again. And it was almost like all the all the luck in the and everything that went great with the fusion was kind of reading paid back for. I mean with the strikers, I'm sorry. We're being paid back with the fusion, the fusion started the exact opposite of what the strikers they started with big crowds. And then and then and instead of wins. They started with losses, and and the crowds just started to go away. And and that that happened pretty quickly in that first season. It was it was a real kind of disappointed was a major disappointment. We had a a bad start, and they could never really recover from it unwittingly, though became. I'm kind of the the beginnings of this idea of a soccer specific stadium. I think frankly almost unintended right? A lot of people sort of look at Columbus, and their stadium is being sort of the first ever, really. But if you if you really think about it this, you know, this really was sort of the beginnings of the idea in practice of how a a more intimate arrangement might look for for soccer in the United States, especially with it being the primary tenant versus a a less sore or let's see you picked up on the point that I was hoping to get to in mccreavy answer. And that is exactly what happened MLS came in. And you know, we all rationalize based on you know, what's available to us. You know and analysts came in. And Doug Logan was the Commissioner excuse me. Think did a great job. Getting the league started. The idea though, rented sorta revitalize these old stadiums the Cotton Bowl that'd be Orange Bowl Soldier Field. And you know in in kinda give them a new life with the team. Are they really didn't have a choice to be honest that those were the only stadiums available. Doug Logan was resistant to Lockhart right up until the first game was played. And and they did not want to leave Miami. The league wanted to name Miami to to stand. They weren't comfortable coming to a smaller stadium. And after that first game senio Galati was there who was a deputy Commissioner in the league at the time went on to be president of US. Soccer Doug Logan was there. DC United the first opponent Bruce Arena, they were the standard bearers of American professional soccer. And they all that same day said this is where we need to go these kinds of stadiums. So you're dead on observation that was the beginning. And that's why Lockhart is a legacy stadium because it showed him less that again going. Back to what you know, three thousand people watching the Toro's and in the Orange Bowl versus ten thousand people in a twenty thousand seat stadium, isn't so bad. So they could mask the smaller crowds on those nights. They had smaller crowds and all the nights when MLS bigger crowds and small stadium. Now, it really felt like again going back to that feeling that it's a sense of occasion being being in a what feels like a big crowd in a small venue is completely different experience than being in the same number of people in the stadium where covering the seats and the in the sound doesn't hold in any of that. But yeah, Lockhart was the beginning of the future of where MLS has gone, and where it is today completely unequivocally and go the fusion, go went out of business. That's what they gave this league. And that's what can Horwitz gave the sleek. So one of the name Miami versus the location Fort Lauderdale. And how much did that contribute to the relative unsuccessful run of the fusion, it seems to me from sort of being a league fan and removed from the situation that Fort Lauderdale aliens if that's a word or four people who live in Fort Lauderdale or the environment don't necessarily love the idea of housing and or being branded as AMI. Yeah. We were kinda used to Miami. Being the you know, the prettiest couple in the in the room. You know, we get that from the dolphins where used to driving down for that the Miami Heat, you you just go where the game is. You know, I I think we're less caught up in it. Then I think Miami people are look at Broward County is up there. And it just don't don't really are less likely. I think to make the make the trip up than we are to make the trip down to Miami. We're used to it. So I think there is this a little bit of a balkanisation in terms of dividing the counties a little bit. And I think it's probably grown a little bit. In the sense that I think Broward now has so much more to do gate his has grown up as well. What's become more nation? Traffic was never great down here. But it's it's getting to be where to go. You know, one county to the next is a is a little bit of a better lift because of because just the time it takes to get somewhere. I think the fusion the last season of the fusion Ray Hudson was the coach, and they played what is still regarded as one of the the the most the best quality of an MLS team in its history. Among the three or four teams that played the best soccer. I believe had they stayed. After a while. If let's say fig, oh for years more, and it's in it's a stab wished as a Fort Lauderdale team. I think there would have been a a question of you know, why are we calling it Miami? It's not Miami anymore. It started that way we understand that. But I think there would have been a move to rebrand the team possibly in the in the in the in the renaming it is the Fort Lauderdale strikers, if it had caught on and and state, and I think it would have been smart for the reason of the reasons you outline, I think he just gives that sense of the community. You're in having that buy in with the team having that connection with the team in, you know, people will people will come to watch something if it's really good. And I think they would have been able to get get past that with I don't think Miami people would have been offended actually to have a team that's playing in Fort Lauderdale, rebranded. You know, we never got there because the team was. Disbanded by Emma, less. I think we're going to run into it a little bit with inner Miami. I think at the beginning people will come from Miami and income down. I don't think this is great. I think it's a it's a very good solution. They come up with it's not an ideal scenario though for the for the launch of team Beckham Senate, David Beckham Senate, you only get one first game and Miami inter Miami is gonna play its first game in Fort Lauderdale. And it starts to bring back this feeling that it never makes it in Miami. And they always end up in Fort Lauderdale. Anyway, here we are before they even played a game in Miami that back and Fort Lauderdale. So I think over the course of this teams early history they're going to have to work through those identity issues a little bit. And my understanding is the way they will do that is go out and get as good a. Player as they can afford and they can afford a lot. So the plan is wherever we play. We're gonna put a team out there that people are going to want to go to create an experience, and we're a team out there that people do not wanna miss, and they they have anything short of that will be a problem. It's very junior mentioning identity things. I think it's a very, and I think this is one of those things that's going to continue to play out. Right. Because it's also interesting that, you know, circa ninety nine right? This is when the San Jose clash at the time, then went back to the way, maybe against MLS his wishes, which has all another sorta thread to this, right? How much of the own ASL, especially at that time with a new league fledgling to did people want to quote, unquote, remember, right because I think arguably it was still fresh enough and people's minds as it was a I want to say disaster. But it was it failed ultimately, quote, unquote. And why revisit? It that yet the earthquakes name comes back in ninety nine and we've seen with the with further teams coming back into Major League Soccer, right? There's the sort of adopting the old names, and it's very hard to whitewash the past that comes with those old names, especially if they resonated with longer-standing citizens who were there during the original years of that franchise name, right? So you look at any salvos fails, supposedly fails, none of this would be happening. Of course, if not for all those failures the the history of American soccer began with the failure of the NSL. So this supposedly failed leaving ninth goes out of business in nineteen eighty four. So twelve years later MLS starts, so let's see I was in nineteen Eighty-four. How old was I I was I don't know not quite twenty five twenty six and then I'm thirty seven thirty eight. When the next week comes along. I'm still kind of in the bread and butter years. You know, it's not that big of a deal in terms of the time. And and the way people connected to the game. And that was a miscalculation that they the MLS made in that they wanted to distance themselves from the so-called failure. And they did it, you know, they did a smart thing is by getting control of cost a single entity. I think was the way that may comfortable for owners showed profits and losses. Everybody's in the same and all that work. But what they what they failed to understand was at the that the NSL did connect with people. And it was a you know, Seattle's had the Sounders, right? They Seattle comes back in as the Sounders, the Portland timbers. You know, those those teams connected, and I'm glad to see that in San Jose. When I saw that. I didn't I I thought the clash was an okay name. I am a problem with it. But yeah, we're the earthquakes where the San Jose. Earthquakes, you know, where the Seattle Sounders. This is who we are. This is our history, and I think trying to to whitewash or run away from your history. Typically, doesn't you know work is a great line in the movie holiday, you can you can forget the past. But the past is not forget you. And that passed was so powerful that any s-l history was so powerful that it did carry over into 'em LS, regardless whether they wanted it to or not, and and I think that's a testament really not just to the N ESL, but through the power of the game to keep people even when we went through that that decade or so period where there really wasn't much to watch or follow. And you know, the the game sustains this ultimately is is is the game worth going to is it worth watching. Is it a great game? And it is. And and that's why MLS was you know, started well whether the little bit of patchy time. When the fusion and the Tampa were contracted, but it got through it. And then the David Beckham moment really the way Pele sparked the game and in seventy five come into the Cosmo's back in two thousand seven coming into the galaxy. But through all this, you know people's connection to this game. And they're they're feeling for you know, what it's like to be in a stadium. And when your team, you know, gets that goal at the end, and you walk out of there feeling like you're flying. That's what keeps us, you know, holding onto our names only on our teams holding onto these stadiums. That that we go to it's that experience that fan experience, you know, or as a journalist when you when you have to write about these these moments, and you know, for all the the we talk about through all this history now, and it's a short history really short history that we're talking about the game has managed to to get a Tokes in. And then keep keep digging. A little bit a little bit a little bit. And you know, now, we're at at a moment where the games, you know, it's here, it's it's part of our part of the life of American life. And so that's a testament to I had this idea for a business. Right. So my dentist would be going to potential team owners and saying this is how much money you're gonna lose on this soccer franchise. I'm gonna save you the money. Just give me ten percent. Here projected losses. I'm gonna save you the two million gonna lose. So nobody would listen to that idea because everyone who's made money thinks they're going to be different. They're gonna make money, but the game that we have today is open to all these people who through through these years went out and put their money down with the belief that they were going to be different in that they were gonna make money at this game. And the game is is like anything it's built on these layers of failure. Until you get to the point where you know. You've made it, and I think, you know, the NFL gave us that chance to make it, and you know, and here we are. And you know, today, there's eight or ten games on TV. Then I'm going to be a watch MLS vanishingly talion. We've whatever I wanna watch. I can watch today, and that all started really with those owners putting the money in bringing those players in creating that identity with fans, and I'm glad you're quake. So back. Let's let's let's finally then set the table then for what's ahead, and we've sort of danced around it. But maybe we can get it'll but more clear eyed about sort of what's in the mix right now. I'm L S is, you know, for a while now has been a chomping at the bit to get back into the quote, unquote, Miami market, David Beckham has gotten sort of the deal of the century supposedly as part of his original contract to have a very heavily reduced price franchise in the league. And that's not for forever. Right. So there's a period of time. He's got exercise that and Miami has been that place, but it has not gone very smoothly. There still really isn't a clear sense of how that stadium situation in and around the city or the environs of Miami is actually going to finally play out. But here again comes Lockhart stadium as we've sort of hinted at before almost two as a either a lever as you were mentioning earlier or. Dare I say could history Pete itself again where this new Lockhart. So to speak becomes maybe the end game and the actual residential place of where inter Miami wants up playing over time. Yeah. The short answer would be. Yes. It could. I as someone who is lives fifteen minutes from Lockhart. And would just love the fact that it's going to be here. I'm perfectly comfortable with Miami making it, and I hope they do that was the that was the idea, and I we're we're going to see what's going to happen. We we don't know. And I think a lot of the issues with the team is they the only thing you really reading about or, you know, the legal issues of dealing with trying to get the stadium and Lamey this week we just dealt with even the agreement in in Fort Lauderdale. There was a competing group trying to get it in a judge ruled on Friday that interview. Miami has the right to go in and with the city of Fort Lauderdale property and demolish the existing facilities and build on that on that space. So even this week. It was the were preoccupied with with the legal side of it versus you know, that extent that excitement you get from who's who's the first player gonna be who's the manager going to be. We don't talk about that. We've not talked about that. And that's not the best way to to to build the brand. I think Miami probably will happen. And the reason is is that the current space that they would go build on his right now is the Mel rings. It's a public off course. No as it's called. And there was a a vote in November whether to give the Beckham group the an opportunity for a no bid contract on that space. Miami voters voted sixty to forty percent. With Beckham against keeping the golf course. That's a pretty big margin. Politically as of last I've heard there still two commissioners out of five that have to vote on this that are against that that have not been one over. I'll put it that way and not been one over to with that space. And here's where the Beckham getting the the bargain that you refer to it. It's it's critical. I believe to this even happening at all Bekka is my understanding God got twenty five million dollar franchise fee. David Beckham's, probably not spent five cents of that. He's probably retaining Jordan. And this is me speculating, but I feel pretty safe in this. He's probably got majority ownership. He's got a stack of billionaires five deep that have probably come in for whatever the, you know, whatever their their stake in it is, but they're spending peanuts to get ownership of the franchise the money that they would. Normally put into buying the franchise is up to two hundred million now for MLS that money that they're not spending on the franchise fee is money that gives them the latitude and the flexibility to do what they're doing it Lockhart. They're gonna put between sixty and seventy five million into that space, and it gives the money to build their own stadium at what will be called freedom park. So money solves a lot of problems, and it makes lawsuits go away sometimes, and I believe they'll get it done because the owner or hey moss is a Miami guy. He's he's a big part of the community down there. And I think he will be driven to make that deal happen. But he's also the type that would just say, you know, no, I'm not taking that deal. We're not doing that. Then if the deal, isn't right and. If they were to end up in Fort Lauderdale. I think it may go to three seasons to be honest. We're looking at two it it could go as long as three, and I think there is a danger of of it ending up and and and being here and we'll see once they start playing next year. What the what the response is going to be whether like you had alluded to before does Broward County feel like, you know, is this a guest in our town or they are they part of us. And you know, to the extent, I I think those things do matter how how you how you connect to how a team connects to community and how a community identifies with that. And I think they've got some ground to make up in that area. And the best way they can do it is to get the best possible players in the best possible manager to put the best possible team out there. 'cause if it's a great team. None of this will matter. People will go watch. So regardless of how it ultimately plays out to you. I think I know the answer to this. But do you sense that inter Miami, the makes some reference and door bows deferentially to this history of Lockhart? An what came before it or do you think it'll be largely ignored because it's a new brand. And nobody wants to remember arguably the past now they've already they're calling it Lockhart. It's it's now they could name the facility to space is is Paul Lockhart everything, and they know that we were about a couple of months ago. Paul mcdonagh who's the general manager for inter Miami invited? It was myself and about a dozen other Broward based soccer people Ray Hudson. Was there any Roger vibe mentioned earlier Tim Robbie who's involved with several incarnations of running the teams here. You could be played. So it was really the people that he wanted to to introduce himself to in Broward County. And and you know, I believe it was might have been me raise my hand and said, you know, will there be something done there that will acknowledge that the history of Lockhart, and he said, absolutely. And they've they've lived up to that in their in their stadium, the model that they developed as a virtual video of the of the site, and it is very prominent Lockhart and one of the things Tim that you know, in all the years that you're going to Lockhart. It's like when you go when you pull into the stadium commercial boulevard and uses big big stretch of kind of soft sand, and there's like a water processing little station there, and there's like parking, and and it's not even like paid. It's just gravel and there's some trees, and it's not really all that, you know, attractive. To be honest, and you're surrounded over on the other side with machine shops and warehouses, and and this and you get to Lockhart, and there's no sort of prominent thing there that says, wow, you're at Lockhart stadium. You know, it's not like you've arrived to the cathedral. There's really no branding at all on that stadium. So inner Miami actually in in their version of what Lockhart would be I think it's a beautiful vision for the site eighteen thousand seat stadium training fields that would bring in. We're a big site. Just the way for baseball spring training, which historically been where we we will be a big site for international teams coming into train MLS teams coming to the train because of the weather. This this space has capacity to be a really icon IQ in a new way as not just a training facility, but a a site for for games. And I think they'll do the Lockhart named Justice. They'll they'll expand on it in in what they're doing when I saw the the site plan, and what they were looking to do it just kinda sent a little bit of a like a good chill through me. It was like this is a fulfillment of what we thought the strikers would be, you know, forty years ago, we thought we would be, you know, God this keeps going imagine. What it's going to be in twenty or thirty or forty years. Well that never happened and here Miami has come in and they're saving an abandoned site. If a band, and nobody plays there. Nobody there's no there's no reason to go there. They're saving this site. And I think they're going to elaborate on it in ways that are going to make it even more icon IQ than it was when the strikers played here. I wanna perfect world. Right. It would be it would also help regionalize the appeal of the of inter Miami. As as a franchise reckon the regionality, right? And I guess also in. Continuing that perfect world you'd you put a US L franchise in once the team goes to Miami. And God forbid you call the Fort Lauderdale strikers. And and sort of the the circle is complete. Right. I heard saw some mention it out on Twitter that they were looking maybe by the striker name. I think I think a guy named Bill Edwards in Tampa. The Tampa Bay rowdies purchase it a couple years ago. I'm not sure what the the value of it is. But they could do that. I think they're looking to do a US L two team. So it's more like a like a AA baseball equivalent, you know, on the main US salad. They're not going to compete with themselves. One of the things, you know, where the location is. And this hasn't really we talked earlier about the sort of my engage versus Broward Fort Lauderdale that dividing line Lockhart is closer to Palm Beach county, which has no sports franchises. And a pretty pretty vibrant, at least in the south part of the county pretty vibrant soccer community their new soccer community. I think that will by being. Lockhart del if who's them really to get a get a presence in into south Palm Beach county and even into central Palm Beach county and and really look to extend the geography of the team. They're gonna struggle getting Miami people from south Miami to come central Miami, south Miami, come in north Miami. It's not that big of a drive. They can do it. But they are at a little bit of a distance from what they are eventually going to call home. So they've gotta re re earn those a different set of fans. And I think there is the opportunity in Broward, but also in south Palm Beach to to expend expend the extend the brand as well. All right. Well, I reserve the right to keep you on the show the shortlist as as all this stuff sort of plays out because I have a feeling this is not the end of the conversation. And and there could be some very interesting tangents that the story can alternately a take. And I suspect that you're. Going to be intrigued with how that plays out, and maybe even volved in in some some form or shape of it. Here's the thing the game just keeps it won't go away. Right because he's coming back. So even if I wanted to not be involved, there's virtually no way, it's it's it's back, and it's back in a big way. And I just really want us to get to where we're, you know, why are we sports fans we or sports fans now to see who wanted to go a court case, we wanna see a team, you know, we wanna see players. We wanna say youth academy. That's been Beckham stain with ease wants to have a and we can have a great youth academy of south or two kids going in there. No, no requirement to pay to be in the snoop academy, which is different from any other use group he would play for. So they've got big ambitions about big money. And we're excited by it being Beckham, it brings a not just a cashier. But it's attractive. Great people in the ownership and in the front. Office and in the youth coaches. We wanna see now we wanna see what's the team going to be. And that's that's the next step here, and hopefully, we can kind of get past or geographic challenges, and and put a great team out there that you're willing to drive the city because it doesn't matter really if the team's not very good. You know? Who's gonna stay who's gonna buy a ticket? And it's really hard down. Here. We're not like Cleveland may just show up. No matter Philadelphia, they show up to boot the team we don't show up to boot with each off the chair. And you know, we don't we can't be bothered with Boone downs new. So it's really now incumbent on them to deal with this this start that they've had by by putting the resource into two players getting the best players. Well, I look I appreciate this is a very is his open up the window to the story of the past and the present. And what we hope is going to be a very vibrant future potentially a couple of different paths to that future. And I appreciate your sort of being the locust for for that for that conversation. You also though that the sport of soccer hasn't left you very much, right? Because you've you've got a book project in the works. Tutti wanna tell all right. It's about that. And and what the story about that is and what you're trying to do with it. Yeah. Weren't a wrote a novel didn't want to get into writing nonfiction. And and part of me now is through our conversation here and just doing the research is maybe looking at doing something that would capture south Florida history. But then lieu of that I was sided to I to write a novel a work of fiction, and it really draws upon pretty much everything we've been we've been talking about here, and I it's called the magnificent, mardi Dale, and I just completed it. So I'm now in the process of looking for a literary agent or publisher and the book is about an Englishman who comes to play his final season for a third division team in a fictional city. I call Hispanics by the sea, and it's a we always had the reputation, you know, this from the NSL that, you know, the the really good European players are just coming over here for one more payday, and, you know, just kinda just an easy checking in Fort Lauderdale was to come here for the for the weather and the money so that my both is based on an Englishman kind of trying to deal with some a little bit of George Best type Paul Gascoyne type who's kind of. Tested, his gifts. And it was needs a fresh start and and ends up finishing his career in in south, Florida, basically. So that was funny, right. Because it allowed me to kind of kind of go back into you know, that that history that we've been we've been talking about privilege really to have this opportunity. I really it's my favorite subject. You probably can tell. And just you know, trying to capture it in in a in a literary form and just kinda under a different kinds of truth that that section allows you is not fiction nonfiction. The story is not always a happy ending. You know, because how many teams have have we seen in unhappily down here. I'm hoping the next one is a happy ending. But anyway, hopefully in a year or two I'll I'll have a book out there, and I'll be involved in some some extent with writing about inter Miami, as well, I'm probably looking at starting a blog of some sight of some kind so that I can kind of way in a little bit on what's going on with this process. I look I think that that in addition to your your novel would be would be excellent because you have a wealth of history and have a longitudinal lens, shall we say about what's what's transpired in the past some of which is directly applicable, and or lessons either to be learned or not repeated or Frank. Good things that you know, that, you know, quote, unquote, new management doesn't necessarily. No or appreciate how can we get in contact with you? If say there is a magic soccer literary agent out there, or or others that want to perhaps help you in that pursuit on Miami web address or Twitter or Email any anything like that. Yeah. I'm on Twitter at J E, F F R US and a k and I'm on Facebook as well. My just through Facebook. I could be contacted as well, just Jeff Rusnak. I'll could you school me on there's not many roughnecks out there. So I should show up there. Fantastical your number one in our book, and hopefully, a few more new links from from this episode once we have it up in in podcast landed and Jeff this has been a tremendous at and well-timed too. I appreciate your allowing me to poke you gently into going back in time as well. As sort of the scene set for what's hopefully to come with pro soccer down in south, Florida. This has been a really excellent. And I hopefully not the the last of our conversations around this topic. Well, real again, a real real pleasure and love what you're doing with with just your general take on capturing stories that that become lost. And you know, we're of an age. I think I say say that. We're the ones who are the stewards of keeping that that history preserved. And and and I think I what I appreciate your terminology. The longitudinal part of this is, you know, the past is just it's always we're always adding to the past and the past is is we're living in, you know, today is a result of everything that's come before us, and and these stories, you know, inform us and and enlighten us in in ways to do things better. And you know, believe me with with inter Miami. And we've been very clear that people who have gone through this history down here is we can help you. We have institutional knowledge to help you not make the mistakes that have been made prior to us. And that's that's that. Hopefully, I think they'll respect that they have so far. And you know, this is this is this the last chance has nevertheless chance. But I think inter Miami is is really the chance we have to make happen. It's the best chance that we have to really institutionalize the game for. Long long time down here. And so we're I'm gonna pull for it is as best I can in in any way. I can because I I love the game. And I I wanna see generations who serve you know, beyond me get that same experience that I've been privileged to have living down here in south Florida. All right. Well, we got to stay tuned to this story. This is literally a one that is unfolding as we speak and it remains to be seen. What happens with this franchise? But as far as we can tell you know, major league soccer's depending on the new Miami franchise to be in place for the beginning of the twenty twenty season. And that's literally, you know, less than a year away. And it's clear now since this conversation and the approval by all the authorities in Fort Lauderdale at least that construction and clearance of all the the old remnants of the old Lockhart stadium are underway. And we basically will see construction starting in the in a couple of months time recording this around the first week of may, and I guess by the middle of July building. Will start occurring in earnest to get that that stadium up and running for hopefully, a probably late spring start in twenty twenty. But the the the bigger intrigue, of course, is what's going to happen with the development down in in freedom park or this. They wanna call it down in Miami proper. Is that going to happen that is clearly a unsolved issue right now a bunch of legal hurdles still yet to clear, it's very interesting. I think some people already sort of surmising that it may be more than two years in Lockhart stadium in Fort Lauderdale, and perhaps maybe if you can believe it, and as I was sort of hinting at him poking Jeff in our conversation, maybe winds up unwittingly becoming the permanent home of the team now while it's all speculation. But it's interesting how history repeats itself again. This would be the first rodeo that Major League Soccer or pro soccer generally has played if you will when it comes to. Domus Aisling team in pro soccer in the south Florida area. Anyway, story to watch we try to be as current and as up to speed as possible, and we will absolutely revisit this this conversation and the story wind issues warrant and Fitz our little genre. As appropriately a Jeff as you heard a shopping around a book proposal, a soccer novel and arguably actually has some nonfiction in Michigan here. And if you happen to be in the book agent business or want to talk to Jeff about his historians both fiction, and what's hopefully, say nonfiction. A you can reach him on Twitter at Jeff Rusnak. That's J E F F R U S N A K at Jeff Rusnak on Twitter. And I'm sure it'd be happy to hear from you as we would as well. If you go to our website at. I was going to give our sponsors web address. Why not sports collectibles dot com? Use the promo code good seats for fifteen percent off all of your purchases. But after you've done that. Of course, you want to go to our website. And that's of course, say it with the willia- good seats still available dot com. 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