DC United (Tentatively) Getting a New Soccer Stadium at Buzzard Point in SW

dc_united_stadium_buzzard_point_sw_dc
Photo by PoPville flickr user mosley.brian

From Council Member Tommy Wells:

Today, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells released the following statement on the announcement that the District of Columbia and D.C. United Soccer have struck a tentative deal to keep the team in the city:

“I’m thrilled with the announcement to keep D.C. United at home right here in D.C.,” said Tommy Wells. “The Council spoke overwhelmingly in support of keeping D.C. United in the District of Columbia and urged the Mayor to work with stakeholders and ensure our soccer team remained in the District.”

On March 6, 2012, The Council approved the resolution, authored by Councilmember Wells and titled the “Sense of the Council in Support of D.C. United Soccer Remaining in the District of Columbia Resolution of 2012.” The resolution urged the city’s executive to develop strategies and proposals to keep the team in the District.

“The new stadium further solidifies our Anacostia Waterfront as a center for sports and culture – bridging our communities and bringing our city closer together,” added Wells.

Buzzard Point, the site of the proposed new soccer stadium, is located in Ward 6, in Southwest, along the Anacostia River.

You can see a map of the proposed site here.

Update from Mayor Gray:

“Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the ownership group of four-time Major League Soccer (MLS) champion D.C. United announced the signing of a public-private partnership term sheet to build a 20,000-25,000-seat, world-class soccer stadium in the Buzzard Point area of Southwest. The new stadium, to be located adjacent to the Fort McNair Army base, will be bounded by Half Street and Second Street SW, between R and T Streets, is anticipated to be complete in time for the 2016 season.

The Mayor also announced that the deal anticipates a creative development plan, including a series of land swaps to support the approximately $300 million project and spur additional development without having an impact on the District’s debt cap.

Under the provisions of the term sheet, the District anticipates that it will swap District-owned property, including the Frank D. Reeves Center for Municipal Affairs, to assemble the stadium site parcels. The plan calls for Reeves Center tenants as well as District agencies currently in leased space to relocate to a new municipal facility in Anacostia near the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road SE. This facility would be developed and funded using a model similar to the District’s recently completed 200 Eye Street SE building.

“This is an exciting plan that moves the District forward in two areas about which I’m passionate — economic development, particularly in the East End of the District, and sports,” said Mayor Gray. “The new soccer stadium is the final piece in the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative puzzle that, when complete will create the most vibrant and sustainable sports-and-retail district in America.”

The term sheet calls for the District to act as a horizontal developer and assume the cost of land acquisition and infrastructure (approximately $150 million), while D.C. United would construct the stadium (approximately $150 million).

“We are proud to say that D.C. United has achieved a major milestone towards establishing a permanent, state-of-the-art home in Washington, D.C.,” said United managing partner Jason Levien. “This is a significant step forward, and we are going to continue to work diligently and collaboratively with the Mayor’s office and the D.C. Council to expedite this process and make this stadium a reality.”

There is not yet a finalized design for the proposed stadium. However, D.C. United officials unveiled multiple potential design concepts and are evaluating them as well as best practices with respect to soccer stadium design and operations in the United States and internationally.

The term sheet contains aggressive provisions, similar to those in the baseball stadium and school modernization programs, for the inclusion of District-based businesses in development contracts as well as local resident hiring goals for construction and operation of the stadium.

“This strategic agreement brings another anchor to the burgeoning sports-and-entertainment district along the riverfront area, while creating the climate for residential and commercial development in Anacostia that will hopefully replicate the success that the Reeves Center brought to the 14th Street corridor,” said City Administrator Allen Y. Lew, who previously led the development and construction of Nationals Park as the CEO of the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission.

“This aggressive plan really gets us where we want to go faster. Planned transportation projects like the new South Capitol Street Bridge and streetcar system will support the stadium and serve as inducements for additional investment on both sides of the Anacostia. We have worked with the community and will keep them involved every step of the way. In the next several years we will accelerate the development that has been envisioned for decades.”

The new municipal complex will adjoin another recently completed facility housing the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and include street-level retail and adjacent residential and parking components. The facility will provide approximately 200,000 gross square feet (GSF) of office space that could house agencies currently located in the Reeves Center or other agencies and accommodate nearly 850 employees.

The new facility will become an integral component of the retail and residential development plans already underway in Anacostia. Although Anacostia is seeing more private investment than it has in decades, the new building will be a prime catalyst for the CHASE (Congress Heights, Anacostia, and St. Elizabeth’s) plan, a collaborative effort between the District, residents, non-profit organizations and private interests looking at a range of topics including affordable housing, transportation, large-site redevelopment, and retail with a special emphasis on workforce development.

While the development plans and eventual stadium construction take shape over the next three years for the soccer stadium and Anacostia municipal center, officials from the District’s Department of General Services (DGS) will develop a relocation plan for tenants at Reeves as well as other District agencies that may be moved to the new Anacostia complex when it is complete. Every effort will be made to keep select tenants in the vicinity of Reeves for continuation of service to their target Ward 1 constituents.

46 Comment

  • What’s going to happen to RFK? Demolition?

    • I would love to know this too!

    • With the shape that it’s in, I can’t imagine the District will see fit to continue maintaining it without a primary tenant. So it will probably sit abandoned for some time, until it is decided what to do with that plot of land, which is rather complicated, due to arrangements between the federal government and DC, considerations of the L’Enfant plan, etc.

  • Do baseball season and soccer season overlap? That could be a nightmare with the traffic and metro situation if so. If not, it will be great for keeping the local businesses busy outside of baseball season.

    • Soccer runs March to October/November, so yes.

    • Baltimore dealt with this when M&T stadium was built in the Camden Yards parking lots.

      • We were at the US-El Salvador game this past Sunday in Baltimore and getting there was a nightmare. That said, I would love a soccer only stadium within city limits.

    • They will just have to flexibly schedule both teams around each other. If the Nats play at night, DC United plays in the afternoon, and vice versa.

      Also, MLS teams play 17 home games per season, while MLB teams have 81. I don’t think that overlap will be a frequent problem.

      • ^^^this

        There will be overlap, but it will still serve to keep the bars and restaurants in the area busy most of the year.

      • Yeah, generally it’s going to fall on DC United to schedule around the Nats, because the Nats schedule comes out first. As a United fan, I can certainly accept that.

  • Mark Ein is the man…

  • I like DC United and support building a stadium there, but the city is getting ripped off by surrendering the Reeves Center in the land swap. Yes, the Reeves Center itself is old and unattractive, but the land it’s on is worth a fortune. The city should be getting more out of this deal. Akridge should have to throw in some extra cash for the Reeves Center. Before the building is handed over, the public should also be aware of what Akridge would do with the property.

    • When Akridge demos and re-develops Reeves where will the 14th & U Street farmers market go? Will the city let the market block off a street like at the Dupont Circle and Bloomingdale markets? If the market is forced to close it’d be a huge loss to the community.

    • I think all those details you bring up will be addressed. I don’t think the city will allow itself to get fleeced here – DC United has general support from the council but I don’t think there’s any appetite for giving favors like the city did for the Nats stadium. (I wish there was.)

    • Akridge is throwing in cash to offset the difference in value between the Reeves Center and their parcel in SW.

    • The Reeves center is tough to value, given its current state of neglect but I’m sure someone is putting a dollar figure on it (I read about $100 m somewhere) and that will be part of the $150 m the city sinks into this deal. In the meantime, that parcel, its future residents and businesses will be on the tax rolls, reducing the net cost over time. And oh yeah, DC keeps its soccer team, develops an industrial area of town, moves some much needed jobs to Anacostia, and gets a few construction jobs to boot. The devil may be in the details but the details would have to be awfully devilish for this deal to be bad for the city.

      • The Reeve building isn’t neglected or deteriorating – it’s just ugly and has been abandoned by the city government.

        It’s functional building, with super easy access. If it is deteriorating then talk to the architects/engineers (for poor design) and the city (for giving up on it) about how a building not even 30 years old could be such a lost cause.

        Let’s face it, Barry got the building dropped there as a way to plant a flag in the ruins of Shaw that the city would be there post riots (and to get votes).

        • jim_ed

          30 years is old for an office building, and most are functionally obsolete by that point. From my understanding, it wouldn’t be a teardown, but rather a facade replacement and gut job, which is pretty ordinary for office buildings at that age.

          • I find your generalization that “most” 30 year old office buildings are “functionally obsolete” dubious at best That’s just a developers BS argument.

            While ugly on the outside, it’s fine or at least passable inside. The atrium is nice, the location is convenient (Metro stop, buses, taxis, and parking), and what do cubicle workers need besides a cubicle and florescent lights? Wait, they need a new facade – BINGO 100% functionality!

            Be honest, an even 30 year old office building of middling design and quality is completely functional. And for others to claim the elevators don’t work, the bathrooms flood always, and it’s rat infested is much less than truthful (and even were that true, shouldn’t we focus on the Metro where each of those claims ARE true),

            Lastly, for those who say the building is crumbling – please post photos.

          • It was built before there was anything like Energy Star or LEED. So ‘functionally obsolete’ may be laying it on a little thick, certainly the utility bills are going to be a whole lot higher than anything that’s built today.

            It’s a little like appliances–if yours are more than about 5 years old, you could replace them and have your money back in a couple years’ worth of bills. But you need an excuse to do it.

        • I used to work in the Reeves. Believe me its a piece of shit. And it is crumbling. I don’t think I have ever seen more than one working elevator, the bathrooms flooded regularly on our floor, mice were everywhere etc. The building was built back in the height of DC cronyism so very little thought given to actually choosing a quailifed builder versus a Friend of Marion. The thing can’t be saved, the cost to improve it wouldnt be worth the effort.

          • it also was built when 14th street was BURNED OUT. don’t hate on first development even if it came from the Barry era.

        • Abandoned + deteriorating = neglected

      • What “much needed jobs in Anacostia”? The stadium won’t be in Anacostia – though it will be close to the banks of the Anacostia – it’s on the Nats Park side of the river. Any jobs that are going to Anacostia are those that they’re proposing to move from the Reeves Center, which, in theory, are already filled.

      • Is Buzzard Point considered Anacostia? (I’ve always thought of Anacostia as being solely on the east side of the river, but I’m sincerely asking, since perhaps I’m not well-versed in the boundaries). Eitherr way, if the city is investing substantially in this deal, I wish there would be some small investment in job training and bridge programming so that unemployed residents can benefit from some of the jobs. Too often, cities tout stadium or other big development deals as “bringing jobs to X underserved neighborhood with high unemployment/poverty” and what happens in reality is that local residents can’t quality for the decent-paying construction jobs (which tend to go to suburban construction workers), while the remaining jobs are concession-type positions that pay close to minimum wage and offer less-than-full-time hours. (By “bridge programming” above, I mean programs that help boost people’s basic skills–in most cases, math and literacy–so that they can qualify for higher-level sklls training programs. Sorry, bit of wonk-speak there.)

        • Referring to the city gov’t jobs remaining at Reeves. They would have to go somewhere and it makes sense that they would go to Anacostia as part of a planned redevelopment of the Historic District. No, Buzzard Point is not part of Anacostia…

        • “Is Buzzard Point considered Anacostia? ”

          -no. It’s SW waterfront.

  • It’s a terrific deal, and it gets rid of that monstrosity at 14th and U!

    • Considering that everything the District government touches turns to $h!t, the faster someone else develops this property, the faster they can set aside small, disadvantaged, locally-owned contracts to “Urban Blight Perpetuation Solutions, LLC.” Or you could just sit around for a couple decades while this bleeds money like the Lincoln Theater. It’s all good.

  • mixed feelings about this. definitely great that dc united is finally getting a stadium, but i’m just not sure that this is the best location. 0.7 miles to the closest metro, on the wrong side of south capital street, which is basically a highway (the renderings , and wedged in by NDU. surrounded by area with great potential for development, but that’ll take a decade or more to come to fruition.

    does anyone know the other sites under consideration? i vaguely remember one being proposed up by north of union station, which would have been great for a proper urban stadium, something mls teams normally lack (even if they’re getting soccer-specific stadiums, they’re normally out in the burbs).

    • The other possible DC sites were not feasible. United looked at just about every possibility within a 50+ mile radius of the city.

      • Nonetheless, if the gate is 3/4 mile from the stadium, that’s inconvenient. Basically, metro access is more like FedEx than Nats Stadium.

        • Taxi/Uber. Bike. Shuttles/Metrobus. If you’re just looking at the walk to/from the metro then you are right, but if you look at the overall situation and location (not to mention the fact that you are in the city so you can shop, eat, drink, or whatever on your way) then this is way more convenient than FedEx. I also think there is a way better chance that there will be further retail development in this area than around FedEx.

    • I don’t think it will be an issue, and if it is then DC United will likely get a shuttle. It doesn’t stop people from taking the metro to get to the Kennedy Center

  • This is awesome, now let’s spend some money and get a quality product on the pitch! If we get a semi competitive team playing in a new stadium I will buy season tickets.

  • Second tier sport is getting a stadium that it wont be able to fill replacing an older stadium its not able to fill. While leaving the taxpayers a huge tab.

    Why cant we just build a site similar to the Kastles? You know, at a scale that wont see most seats empty at every single game.

    • This is a way better deal for the city than the Nats Stadium, and I don’t recall hearing about their constant sellouts. And if you think this is a bad deal for the city just wait until you see what they will do to get the Redskins back in town.

    • United fans come out in droves when the team is playing well, and they have a decent draw even when they are terrible.

      The fact that the new stadium is built to an appropriate size and they are to trying to fill an old NFL stadium (which seats about 3x the capacity) will also make a world of difference.

      As for your comment about a second tier sport – I’ve seen RFK sold out on several occasions for the USMNT or when quality European clubs come through. Just because you don’t care for soccer doesn’t mean that there are not tens of thousands of others in the area that do.

    • It’s apparent you have no clue what you’re talking about.

    • Hey, anon-X – this new proposed stadium is EXACTLY what you’re asking for. RFK is a massive stadium that was designed and built for the Redskins. DC United were simply using the existing stadium as they had few other options at the time.

      Also, just so you know, the owner of the Kastles is the same Mark Ein who owns a good chunk of land on which this stadium would be built… ;-)

    • @AnonX and other haters of the project.

      Please read the actual term sheet. If you read it, you will see that DC United will be responsible for building the entire stadium, any cost over runs, and providing a share of any profits. Addiitonally, the team must pay property tax each year and bare the burden of any annual operating losses.

      It’s a shame people are too lazy to identify how the city is going to spend almost zero real cash and get the Reeves Center AND the stadium area On the city tax rolls. Additionally 200,000 sq/ft of new office space is being built for the city as part of the trade in Anacostia to house displaced workers from Reeves.

      http://oca.dc.gov/sites/default/fil…Soccer Stadium Term Sheet (executed copy).pdf

  • Very excited about this! I am in full support.

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