A study has found that the site on which Major League Soccer expansion franchise Inter Miami hopes to build its new stadium is considerably more toxic than first anticipated.

Inter Miami will enter MLS in 2020 and plans on spending its first two seasons at a redeveloped Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale while work on the Miami Freedom Park project is carried out.

The club hopes to move into its new 25,000-seat stadium by 2021. The stadium would be built on the city-owned Melreese golf course in Miami but a new environmental analysis could prove problematic.

The Miami Herald newspaper, citing a study by environmental firm EE&G, reported that contamination levels on the site are at twice the allowable limit for arsenic. Soil samples at surface level were also found to contain debris that poses a “physical hazard”.

The Herald added that barium and lead levels also exceed legal limits. The contamination comes from a nearby municipal incinerator which has been closed for decades.

EE&G’s report read: “The debris included fragments of tile, metal and glass, mixed with fine-grain sands, which often exhibited a rusty colour. Intermittent wood fragments were encountered along with concrete and other non-native materials, but not evidence of municipal garbage.”

Francis Suarez, Mayor of Miami, said that the findings cause “great concerns” and added: “Basically, the site has significantly more contamination than what is commercially reasonable.”

Further tests from the county Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) also revealed high concentrations of lead in the soil. The Herald added that Miami has selected AECOM to conduct its own analysis of the findings.

Suarez said that Inter Miami officials have estimated the clean-up cost could reach $50m (£41.3m/€45.1m), up from the previously-anticipated $35m.

As well as the 25,000-seat stadium, the Miami Freedom Park complex would include a hotel, office and retail spaces. Inter Miami’s ownership group includes David Beckham and the club was officially awarded an MLS franchise in January 2018.

Image: Inter Miami CF