Larry Blustein

FRIDAY FOCUS – Here’s A Vote For Football At Lockhart Stadium

Larry Blustein
March 22, 2019 - 10:59 am

As soccer has become a focus in south Florida for the many sites that have been explored as a landing spot for professional teams, one of the recent places mentioned was Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

The iconic home to high school football, track and soccer in Broward County for 20 years, with two of the oldest schools – Fort Lauderdale and Stranahan – calling it home – this facility, along with the adjacent baseball stadium was part of growing up in south Florida.

With all the talk of shops, restaurants and top flight soccer, perhaps one of the attractions that may garner the most interest is high school football.

As many have on-campus stadiums, big games are usually sold out fast – and never get the mass exposure that Miami-Dade has with sizable venues such as the “Mecca” – Traz Powell Stadium – and Tropical Park in southwest Miami.

While soccer is certainly the future of this perfect location, a half mile from I-95, much of the talk, when planning ahead for this structure, includes high school football.

Having regional and national matchups that so many want to see, this would be the perfect spot to host these events – with so many other options available.

Working out something with the new developers and owners, this could be their way of giving back to a community that stands to spend plenty of time at this mixed usage facility.

What Lockhart Stadium has always been about are rivalries. The Broward Soul Bowl between Dillard and Blanche Ely is one of the most competitive rivalries we had. With Lockhart Stadium closing its doors, this game lost that neutral field that featured great stars, passionate fans and a battle of the bands that had no equal.

The Soul Bowl was also a marquee event that brought alumni back and they spent money at these games.

Look at the greats of Broward County who strapped it up on this field back as far as the 1960’s.

Stars like Blanche Ely’s Rod Baker (1982) and Gerald Bain (1974) from Hollywood Hills played huge games on this legendary field.

BCAA Athletic Director Rocky Gillis played games at Lockhart. So did Fort Lauderdale High receiver Tavirus Davis and Boyd Anderson running back Marty Butler.

NFL coach Mike Mullarkey got his uniform dirty on this field as a Northeast Hurricane. So did Fort Lauderdale’s Rod Carter. Stranahan’s Ruben Carter and Anthony Judge, Dillard star Isaac Bruce, Nova’s Autry Denson and the entire Blades family.

The memories of watching Lorenzo White (Dillard), Bill Hawkins (South Broward), Michael Irvin and Sterling Palmer (St. Thomas Aquinas), Steve Hutchinson (Coral Springs), Richard McKenzie (Boyd Anderson), Claude Jones (Dillard), Dou Innocent (Blanche Ely), Corey Simon (Blanche Ely) and so many others still resonates decades later.

To build a facility like this, it is only natural that you also include part of history that was here long before the Fort Lauderdale Strikers came to town.

Lockhart meant Thursday night games and Friday evening thrillers – and occasional Saturday night matchups that brought people from all over.

It was Al Alvarez scoring a late touchdown for Fort Lauderdale – or Steve Feagin setting records for Deerfield – or even the legendary Brian Piccolo setting the tone for Central Catholic (St. Thomas Aquinas) during the 1961 season.

Originally designed in 1959 for high school sports, the stadium's soccer connection began in 1977. In 1998 it was refitted specifically for soccer as the home of the Miami Fusion in Major League Soccer; the team folded in 2002. It was also the home stadium of the Florida Atlantic Owls football team from 2002 to 2010.

While it does seem like a long way before anything is done, all anyone is asking – with a little bit of nostalgia – is to bring back high school football to Lockhart Stadium – so more memories can be made.

Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each Tuesday night (8-9) on WQAM (560AM - https://wqam.radio.com/media/podcast/south-florida-high-school-sports-radio). For the past 11 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot about football recruiting!