Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lockhart Stadium: Sliding out of history

NOTICE: The opinions expressed are solely that of Kyle Kaly, and not necessarily that of the Miami Ultras, Miami FC, Traffic Sports, or the site itself.

As many of you know, within the next two years, there will be a water park taking over Ft. Lauderdale stadium. Before I get into my rant, I am NOT against the Ft Lauderdale Stadium tear down. However, the thought of running a water slide through/under the bleachers at Lockhart has me irate! I will not stand for it, and I’ll do my best to share my thoughts with you.

Built in 1959, Lockhart stadium’s original purpose, combined with Ft. Lauderdale stadium, was to be utilized a high school multi-sport complex. It was also credited as North America’s oldest soccer specific stadium. In fact, many of today’s professional soccer stadiums are built around the idea the architects of Lockhart used back in 59’: Make a fan friendly soccer specific stadium. Since it’s completion, it has been home to two major soccer clubs: the Miami Fusion, and more importantly the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Many of the world’s premier players have taken the pitch at Lockhart, ranging from the NASL, MLS, and many International match ups. It is also home to High School football and soccer in the FHSAA and BCAA. Lockhart is under appreciated for the legacy it has seen in very close to the same condition it was in 1959. There was a renovation in 1998 that made the stadium a little more fan friendly, but not drastically.

Today, it is occupied by Miami FC. Our team. A team that shows glimpses of greatness, but still falls a little short. I am a diehard for Miami FC, though I am mostly remembered as the Miami Ultra’s lil train wreck this season. Miami FC being rebadged as the Strikers this coming season throws us back to 1977 when the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers called Lockhart Stadium home with one of the greatest squads ever assembled. Though, next year’s squad will likely be a shadow of the legend of the old Strikers, it has sentimental value to soccer fans worldwide. With the closing in of the buyout and construction of the water park mentioned above, we as Ft Lauderdale residents and soccer fans alike should be concerned about the future of the stadium.

The plans of the water park are to stretch a water slide around the property of Lockhart and under the bleachers. The Ft. Lauderdale Stadium portion edging out the Miami FC Soccer Academy plans do not concern me, just the water slide that runs through our bleachers. A water slide pumping millions of gallons of water a day with any small leak may endanger the structural integrity of this historic monument to soccer. Also, to run that slide under the bleachers will ruin the historic feel of our great stadium. With the recent loss of the Orange Bowl in Miami, there isn’t much left in the way of sports history in south Florida. Lockhart is our last hope. If we fight to preserve it today, our kids will be able to enjoy it tomorrow. Will they see Miami FC, or the Strikers? Likely not. But whatever sports team may take over the lease will certainly add to the history of our second home.

My history at Lockhart is different than most. The first time I went to Lockhart was to meet my ex crush Marie to see Ft Lauderdale High School take on Stranahan High School in the other football in 2007. After looking up the history of the stadium, I felt an air of dignity being in such a prestigious building. Then, I found Miami FC. In 2009, I made it to my first game. Decked out in face paint, driving my old Mercedes, I was back in the stadium I admired. Everyone remembers his or her first sporting event, well, this was my first NASL match. I will always remember the smell of jet fuel and the look of our semi run down field. Since then, Ive joined the Miami Ultras and become that one guy you will always see doing something he’s probably not supposed to. And yes, I’ve been thrown out of there before. That is when I knew that Lockhart was my second home.

I digress. If we lose Lockharts historical value, we lose everything the stadium has stood for over the years. We’re already putting a big smudge on the name of the Strikers, do we really need to drag down the stadium too?


JRUIZ said...

love the article kyle---and i highly agree, we MUST keep Lockhart a landmark. but look around, even Yankee stadium got torn down. and that shit's been around for a loooong time. so i think even if we chain ourselves to the fence, they are gonna go ahead with the silly waterslide under the bleachers.

freaknik said...

I stood by and watched Houlihan stadium get demolished because i was too young to make a difference, then the mutiny folded. Im not gonna let that happen again.

Anonymous said...

Kyle has always has high resolve on what's important to his community and to the historic rationale of doing what's right!

Terry Lee Kaly
Ted VonToerne and
The Coslett Family, Pennsylvania

ps we are proud of his involvement!