Arquitectonica created this rendering of the Freedom Park stadium, released last year. (Courtesy Inter Miami CF via MLS.com)

Inter Miami CF hires pair that designed Heat’s AmericanAirlines Arena

HOK and Arquitectonica, the design team for AmericanAirlines Arena, are combining forces again to develop a stadium for Major League Soccer expansion club Inter Miami CF.

Multiple sources familiar with the negotiations confirmed the selection.

Jurgen Mainka, Inter Miami CF’s chief business officer, did not return emails for comment. HOK officials declined to comment, and Arquitectonica did not respond to a request for comment.

Gensler, designer of Banc of California Stadium, home of LAFC, and HNTB/Manica Architecture, the design team for the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas, were the other two finalists, sources said.

HOK’s sports, recreation and entertainment group includes the old Heinlein Schrock Stearns/360 Architecture, which teamed with local firm Arquitectonica to plan AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the NBA’s Miami Heat.

The downtown arena opened in 1999 with just 20 suites, by far the fewest in the NBA, in a market saturated with premium product. The suites come with outdoor balconies facing Biscayne Bay.

The arena also features some of the industry’s first bunker suites and loge boxes.

Inter Miami CF, which will begin play in 2020, is owned by former British soccer star David Beckham among other investors. He was officially awarded the team in 2018. Unofficially, Beckham’s group has spent the past six years searching for a site to build a stadium with approval from local government.

Over the past year, Inter Miami CF selected a site to build a 25,000-seat facility on a city-owned golf course near Miami International Airport. It’s part of Miami Freedom Park, a $1 billion, 73-acre mixed-use development that will include 750 hotel rooms and 1 million square feet of office and commercial space.

Arquitectonica has been working for Inter Miami CF on preliminary stadium design for the Freedom Park site, and the team released some initial renderings last summer.

Local voters in November approved the use of city property for the privately funded project. Since that time, though, a lawsuit was filed to stop the project over alleged violation of lobbying rules connected to the disclosure of investors in the development, according to local reports.

City commissioners still must approve the project pending resolution of the litigation. No opening date has been set for the stadium.

In the meantime, Inter Miami CF is searching for a temporary home in South Florida where it can play its inaugural season. The team had considered Marlins Park before recently turning its attention to Riccardo Silva Stadium at Florida International University. The stadium, home to FIU’s football and soccer teams, opened in 1995. It has been expanded over the years and now seats about 20,000.

In addition, Inter Miami CF has submitted a proposal to the city of Fort Lauderdale to build a practice facility on the site of Lockhart Stadium. The old MLS Miami Fusion played there for four years. For more than 10 years, it was home to the old Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League.

Elsewhere, HOK is designing a $65 million stadium for Louisville FC, which plays in the United Soccer League and has considered moving up to MLS, the top North American professional soccer league.

In Atlanta, HOK was the architect for Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which was designed for both soccer and football. Atlanta United FC, entering its third season in MLS, has been a huge success there, drawing crowds of 40,000 to 70,000. In south Florida, HOK designed $600 million in upgrades to Hard Rock Stadium, which books international soccer matches.

Under 360 Architecture, the firm’s last soccer-specific project was Avaya Stadium, the San Jose Earthquakes’ facility, which opened in 2015.