Friday Question of the Day – Have you ever been to a DC United Game? Do you think would at a new Stadium?

1st and R Street, SW

Last Friday’s question about what should be done with RFK got me thinking about the proposed new DC United stadium at Buzzard Point in SW. There is a nice new website set up called Unite DC explaining the proposal and calling for your support (with a sweet rendering too):


I’ll say it straight away, I love soccer and would be psyched if this new stadium was built. But I’m also curious – how many soccer fans does DC have? Would a new stadium encourage new fans? Do you think we could fill a 20,000-25,000-seat soccer stadium? So today I’m just curious – how many folks have been to a DC United game? Any regulars? For those who haven’t been, do you think you would go to a game at the new stadium?

For those that do support the stadium, you can add your name here. A couple more shots of how the site looks today:



87 Comment

  • …do you think “you” would :)…

  • Just about every home game since mid-2011. While RFK is “historic”, it’s too big and too old for an MLS stadium. The new United stadium will be perfect. A new, quaint soccer stadium that can hold up to 20-25k. It’ll be useful off-season for a number of other city events (isn’t DC bidding on the 2024 Summer Olympics?). The stadium will also help the continued revitalization of SW, bridging the area between Nats Stadium and Waterfront Metro area.

    The only issue I can think of (for visitors) would be parking and tailgating. I assume folks will use Nats parking, but that’d be a long a$$ march from there to the stadium for La Barra Brava.

  • I’m a season ticket holder for about 15 years now. So yeah, I support the stadium deal.

  • Absolutely I support the new stadium. RFK is old and decrepit, and the team has a raw deal on concessions.

    But I do wonder what will happen to the tailgating tradition.

    • Build a new stadium just to get a better deal on concessions? Enjoy the $9.75 beers for a 16 oz beer like at Nats Park, tailgating will be history.

  • personally not a soccer fan. i dont know that MLS will ever have a big foothold or profit margin in the US. i appreciate those that like it as the “international sport” and “huge in europe” etc, etc. just dont think it will ever be big here and as a result i couldnt support funding any infrastructure for it. as taxpayers will never see return on investment.

    • Why don’t you look at the other soccer specific stadiums that been built for MLS before making the declarations that you did? I would also recommend reading the proposed DC United stadium deal so you actually know what it calls for.

      Here’s the kicker with the Buzzard Point stadium: you won’t be funding any infrastructure for it. It’s a land swap, the owners will build the stadium itself, and the city is renting the land to the team.

      • But doesn’t the city still have to buy that land? As far as I knew, it isn’t the city’s land yet, and they would have to buy out and move the current tenants.

          • But what that site doesn’t mention, is DC will be leasing the land for only $1 a year. That seems pretty misleading.

          • @Still confused,

            The original lease agreement that specified rent as $1 also specified DC United would be contributing 50% of revenues above a break-even threshold (I think there are a lot of reasons why that’s a bad idea, one being how that threshold is determined, and another being it’s high enough to act as a disincentive to earning revenue). Those terms have been largely scrapped, which is one of the reasons you haven’t seen a proposal come to the Council floor.

        • They only have to “buy” that land with the land swap, giving current owner a more “attractive” lot that is closer to downtown that is also undeveloped. The only funding the city is kicking in is the improvement of the infrastructure in Buzzard Point to support the stadium, which the owners are paying for. The city also makes out because the developer will build something on the traded lot, resulting in more tax revenue as opposed to an empty parcel.

          People need to stop comparing this deal to the Nats stadium one, which the city and taxpayers not only got reamed on the costs but also had to deal with ahole owners who refused to pay rent for the first year because it was “unfinished and unsatisfactory.”

        • DC made the announcement without having anything in place to purchase the other parcels of land they need, like the scrap yard and the Capital Bike Share warehouse. Totally jumping the gun for them to announce the plans the plans the way they did.

      • Free land, with no rent, the city will be paying for enormous infrastructure upgrades in the area, quite a deal for the team, no wonder they’ve set up that fancy web site and are lobbying hard to promote it.

  • Not a fan of soccer, besides once every four years. But def will support a new stadium. Should be closer to a subway station ideally, but this is “close enough.”

  • The world devotion to soccer probably has more to do with Britain’s colonial legacy than the sport’s aesthetics. I don’t care for soccer nor do i care how many people worldwide like it.

    I love baseball but the deal DC did with the Nationals is abominable. DC throws enough money at the teams and its stadium to guarantee the owner profits, at the city’s expense. In my opinion owners should get no tax breaks nor public subsidies. I’m fine with a new stadium if it pleases people. But please don’t tax me nor any other non-fan for it.

    • Nationals Stadium lead to the revitalization of a huge section of the city, so I would say it was a pretty good investment. However, the soccer stadium probably wouldn’t have the same effect considering it’s right by the baseball stadium, and much less popular, and much less home games.

      • But you’re still improving what is right now a blighted area.

      • “Nationals Stadium lead to the revitalization of a huge section of the city”

        No, it didn’t — this is confusing correlation with causation. Read the JDLand blog which covers development in SW. A lot of that stuff was already in the pipeline before the stadium broke ground.

      • You have obviously not walked around Nats Park. The revitalization is happening up the street, away from the ballpark.

    • Re – “the world devotion to soccer probably has more to do with Britain’s colonial legacy than the sport’s aesthetics.”

      Actually, most of Britain’s former colonies (The Commonwealth) are actually crap at soccer and prefer cricket or rugby. I’m thinking India, Canada, New Zealand, Australia. South Africa is far more competitive at rugby than it is at soccer, despite hosting the WC in 2010.

      • Indeed. The resistance to soccer as a global sport comes almost entirely from former English colonies (the US, Canada, Australia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Kenya, pre-Republican Ireland, the white population of South Africa; the one exception I can think of where soccer has little presence but was never an English colony is the Philippines).

        There’s a social aspect to that, in that you had to kind of ‘take a side’ on the British Empire in many of those countries, and if you were anti-Empire you used indigenous sports, where if you were pro-Empire you played the sports of the upper classes, either Rugby or Cricket. Almost every one of those countries classically chose a version of cricket or rugby (or in the US’s case, both) instead of football.

        Football was simply not the sport of the colonial power structure–it was rather the sport of the tradesmen, and what you’ll find is the non-Empire countries where England had an ordinary trade relationship are where football was spread.

  • Of course! Being in the Barra Brava (and the tailgate) is always amazing – a great community, and the passion and excitement is so palpable, even when United loses (even when they lose repeatedly). I’ve met some fantastic folks and have never had a bad time at a game.

    RFK holds a special place in my heart, but it’s simply not a sustainable home for the team. A new stadium would be fantastic and will definitely help continue to spruce up SW. I’d be at the home opener and many games to follow.

    • 13K on a nice weather Saturday for the home opener, not exactly an economic powerhouse for 17 home games a year.

  • Yes I have been and it is always a blast! Well I think the biggest question should be where is the tailgating space going to be? That is one of the biggest parts of the soccer experience. I have not seen any detail in regards to this. I know there will be MANY a soccer fan that will be unhappy/disgusted due to this if it is taken away, so much that I can see people boycotting the proposed stadium because of it. Growing up here in DC and I mean DC not VA or MD, I remember all the hype around the team and I started going to games in 1996; It’ll be weird to have another team leave RFK.

    • There will not be tailgating at the new stadium. Im a fan too but they are not building surface parking lots to accomodate this. the upside is that more people will support the bars in the NAvy Yard area on the way to and from the games.

      • Yeah, all the bars, there are two of them over there now that I’m sure the soccer crowd will enjoy.

  • new stadium, of course, should have been done some time ago. For those that say no one cares about soccer here in the US. wait till June, go to a soccer bar and then tell me America doesn’t care about soccer. The MLS started and had to go against historic leagues around the world. MLB, NFL, NHL, have absolutely no real competitors. So its easy to get the worlds best talent. The MLS in quite a short period of time has become one the most well attended soccer leagues in the world, and now not only are they getting better over seas players, they are attracting our best American plays to play on home soil. DC united was one of core MLS teams, talent, attendance, and followers. It would be a shame to not support them and see them leave for another city.

    • Wait until June??? To watch the game on TV for a month? Then forget about it again for four years? Let’s build that stadium.

  • DC United games are a blast, even at rickety old RFK. That being said, the team desperately needs it’s own stadium and the current proposed deal is it’s best shot.

    • Best shot at getting big bucks out of the city, they could always go the traditional route and acquire their own land and build the stadium.

  • I used to go to 5-10 games a year but got sick of it because RFK is so lousy (including food/beer options) and I can’t believe they charge people $30 to attend an event there. I go about once a year now, I’ll probably be back to 5-10 if the new stadium gets built.

  • justinbc

    Never been, probably still wouldn’t go even with a new stadium, but I completely support them building one. I played soccer for about 15 years, love watching European leagues, but I just can’t see myself paying to go see it here. I really just have zero interest in DC sports teams. If the U.S. managed to win the World Cup bid again though I would totally go watch a game there.

    • You say you played for 15 years but you would “can’t see myself paying to go see it here”…unless the U.S. hosts the World Cup.

      Wow. Fortunately, soccer will survive — and ultimately thrive — in this country without you. And I predict the day will come when DC United is winning again, in a shiny new stadium, and selling out games — and you’ll be telling everyone how long you’ve been a supporter.

      • justinbc

        No, I won’t. Just like I don’t pretend to be a Caps fan when they’re in the playoffs, or the Nats. Anyone who’s actually friends with me is well aware of what teams I support, and they are not located in DC.

  • Issue is really the taxpayer funding. Cities almost never earn back the money from baseball and football stadiums, and so I don’t see how they’ll possibly do it for a soccer stadium. Every dollar spent on this is a vote to NOT spend dollars on something else.

    Soccer teams play, what, 20 games a season? I haven’t followed this super closely, so I’m asking sincerely here: what other uses are envisioned for the other 345 days a year?

    • There is no tax payer funding.

      DC Govt will swap land for the stadium and retain ownership of said land, which the govt will rent to DC United. DC Govt will build infrastructure (sidewalks, lights, roads, etc.) to a set limit – any cost overruns paid by DCU. DC United will fund 100% of the stadium build costs.

      What else can it be used for? MLS and College and HS soccer playoffs, Area club competitions, outdoor concert venue, International friendlies, College and HS Lacrosse competitions, and even HS football competitions (depending on field size).

      • The link that the Prince provided says the DC government would spend $150 million on this. That sure sounds like taxpayer funding to me. Isn’t the “rent” the city envisions charging some nominal amount? Even a cursory review of the facts suggests it’s quite insincere to mislead people into believing that there’s no taxpayer funding envisioned for this project.

        Those other uses sound like they could easily bring in dozens of dollars for the city. Sounds like we are planning to preserve this area of the city as a ghost town.

        • Oh who is misleading whom?

          150 million would be spent on the infrastructure surrounding the stadium: roads, city lights, sidewalks, plumbing, etc.

          Zero taxpayer dollars would be spent on the stadium.

          SO DC is paying to upgrade and improve it’s own infrastructure… just like they have done with the great streets program in various neighborhoods. This is just doing it because of the build of a stadium, just like DC did for the Verizon Center.

          The rent would not be huge, but it is still revenue. Redeveloping the land in this area would increase value, which will increase taxes.

          All DCU and any other events would have ticket sales, which means tax revenue, and concession sales, which means tax revenue, and merchandise sales, which means tax revenue, and increased visits to the city (so parking, metro etc have increased uses… and revenue). The restaurants and bars in the area (or coming to the area with more development) would have increased food and alcohol sales, which would mean increased tax revenue.

          • I really strongly disagree with the way you’re characterizing these facts. The city wouldn’t just be spending $150 million as its routine maintenance of the infrastructure around this block, nor is that anywhere near the ordinary cost to the city of someone building something on city land! The proposal is for the city to spend that money as a component of a stadium construction project, and NOT spend that money for other purposes.

          • ExWalbridgeGuy:

            I characterized it just fine. I did not say routine maintenance.

            “SO DC is paying to upgrade and improve it’s own infrastructure… just like they have done with the great streets program in various neighborhoods. This is just doing it because of the build of a stadium, just like DC did for the Verizon Center.”

            And my statement is true.

            Any money DC spends on a lot of things can be spent on something else. DC spends a lot of money on a lot of things.

            Please provide me with the facts of how much is the “ordinary cost to the city of someone building something on city land!” Please do.

            You don’t want any stadium deal. Just say that and be done.

        • I believe the $150 million is the cost of the infrastructure.

        • There is obviously not *no* cost to the city. The cost to the city does not involve spending new taxpayer money (at least not money that wouldn’t be spent anyway) nor does it require the city taking on new debt (like the Nats stadium did.) Essentially the city will “pay” for this using existing assets and by forgoing other potential future revenue streams. I won’t claim that the stadium will generate the highest possible return on investment, but I will claim that a) that shouldn’t be the city’s priority and b) there is currently no plan for redevelopment of that area that will definitely be a better deal for the city.

    • What tax funding is being used on this project? I don’t see how the city loses out. They trade one vacant lot for another, both get developed and DC United pays for the stadium. Now the city has TWO formerly blighted areas that will produce jobs and tax revenue.

      • The city loses out because it has an incredibly valuable piece of property on 14th and U, and is swapping that to put a stadium in SW. DC would be better off selling the property and letting the DC United owners come up with financing to purchase and develop the land necessary to create a new stadium. Even if the city doesn’t fork over cash to build it this is still a stadium subsidy, and you will be hard pressed to find research that shows that stadiums are good economic investment for city governments. They just aren’t.

        I love soccer, and I think that RFK is an eyesore that should be gone. But I also know that DC will create an economic distortion by getting involved. As previous posters have said: DC should focus on providing services to the community.

        • But see, then they don’t get any land in return for the site on U street.

          DC doesn’t just want cash. They don’t need cash. They want to get a black hole off their books (Reeves center upkeep is insane), and develop a new part of town (and OWN a plot in that part of town.

          The money being spent for improvements is consistent with ANY project going in on that spot. Literally anything. They build anything there, that stuff has to happen.

    • The city is paying for the land using the funds from land they already own, they are proposing to do this via a swap rather than separate transactions leading to the lie that the city isn’t paying for the land. The swap itself is troublesome due to the mysterious need to bring a third party private company into the deal, just another opportunity for fraud. The $150 million number is the estimated worth of the land, it will be “capped”, which of course means nothing because once that cap is reached the city will increase the cap the same as they did with the baseball stadium. The $150 million does not include the infrastructure improvements around the stadium which will cost tens of millions of dollars extra. For this the United pay $1 rent per year.

      The number of events will be 17-19 home games plus other events. Since the stadium will be pulling these other events from other local venues there is no net gain for the city. So the economic benefits will be tied to a building that will be empty 340 days a year, will not draw the crowd sizes of football or baseball, and whose fans are crying about $30 game tickets while good seats to the other sports in town approach the $100 range. These guys want their stadium but they don’t want to pay for it.

  • I’ve gone to games off and on since 1996, and would definitely attend more games at a new stadium. That said, I don’t think the local government should be subsidizing this deal. The owner of DC United just plowed a few hundred million dollars into part ownership of Inter Milan. If he’s got that kind of cash laying around there is no reason the team can’t build a stadium without the taxpayer’s dime.

  • The stadium deal, like ALL stadium deals that are funded by taxpayers, is a bad deal for the average taxpayer. This happens to be even worse than most since a new soccer stadium has even less of a chance of ever turning the type of interest in the area that a major U.S. sport does.

    • It’s worse that DC United is actually paying for the stadium themselves?

      • Oh, please. Soccer fans here are distorting the facts. Yes, the actual stadium structure will be paid for by the team. HOWEVER, over $150 million of funds and land (read: taxpayer money) will be used by the city to make this stadium project possible. There is no stadium without taxpayer support. How is this hard to understand?

        • Yes, for infrastructure improvements that would literally have to be done for ANY development of that land, at all, ever.

          That kind of thing happens for any redevelopment.

          Do you get upset when DC does that for new apartment buildings? New office buildings?

          At least this way DC continues to own a big plot in a developing area. It is an investment in the future.

    • Sorry, if you don’t think soccer is a major U.S. sport, you haven’t been paying attention. With the rise of Latino Americans as well as a growing fan base in the younger populations. Soccer is actually more popular than baseball. From an ESPN article published today:

      “Are MLS players now America’s true “Boys of Summer?” For the first time in the nation’s history, Major League Soccer (inaugural season: 1996) has caught up with Major League Baseball (founded in 1869) in a significant marker of popularity. Both leagues can claim 18 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds as avid fans of their sport.

      The startling statistic comes from the 2013 Luker on Trends — ESPN Sports Poll Annual Report — the complex database that tracks the minutiae of fan habits surrounding 32 major sports, studying how Americans watch, play, buy and express their fandom. This is the very same poll that, in 2012, determined soccer was America’s second-most popular sport for those aged 12-24, outstripping the NBA, MLB and college football. “

      • You are correct that soccer is a major U.S. sport. I should have been more specific. I meant to say that the MLS is not a major professional sporting league. With 2012 revenue of under $500 million for the entire league, it is difficult to imagine a scenario when just one club could conceivably make a return on a $150 million investment from the city. As a point of comparison, I have listed other major sporting league revenues below. Even teams in these leagues (which are vastly more profitable) have not delivered returns to taxpayers after publicly funded stadium deals.

        NFL – $9 billion
        MLB – $8 billion
        NBA – $5 billion
        NHL – $2.4 billion

  • I go maybe once or twice a season. I think rather than a new stadium, what would make people attend games, is having a more competitive team. I can’t see why people would attend a game more than once if they are attending solely because of the new stadium smell.

    • While they might not have been competitive the past couple of years, DC United is MLS’ most successful franchise in titles won.

  • There’s no option here for “I’ve been, but didn’t care for it and wouldn’t go to a new stadium”

  • I wish more people had the opportunity to see the new Portland and Seattle soccer stadiums to see just how a new soccer stadium can add to a city’s vitality. I totally support this stadium as I think eventually it will activate the buzzard point waterfront.

    • There is no new Seattle soccer stadium. Seattle plays in an NFL stadium which is nearly 12 years old. Portland plays in a stadium that is renovated but not new. If you think the stadium is such a great deal feel free to donate money to the team for its construction — not sure why DC taxpayers should be on the hook here. And I say this as a soccer fan.

      • There is no hook. They are not on any hook.

        …Are you capable of comprehending how this might take place?

        This is not Nats park, homie. Different concept altogether

        • Wrong. City — read: the taxpayers — is paying for the cost of the land acquisition in addition to the infrastructure.

          • Equating “the city” with “the taxpayers” is misleading in this context, since the city already owns the land that will be exchanged for the other land – so the taxpayers have already paid. There will be no new taxes or debt to pay for the land. As far as the infrastructure costs go, well, the city will have to pay no matter what kind of development happens there. The only way the city doesn’t pay for infrastructure costs is if that land doesn’t get redeveloped.

          • Then why do news reports describe the $150 million in costs to the city as including land aquisition costs in addition to the infrastructure? Furthermore, why is the city giving land away instead of auctioning it off? Isn’t this a cost to taxpayers in the form of foregone revenue and an opportunity cost?

    • Why is DC being asked to spend more than just about any other city for and MLS team? The median contribution is about $75 million and DC is being asked to pay more than double that amount.

  • I’ve been to many DCU matches but not as many these days. I absolutely support the stadium deal and absolutely despise RFK. I’ve also been to stades in Chicago, Portland and Seattle. It really is a shame that MLS’ most successful team does not have its own stadium at this point.

  • I wonder how much of each person’s taxes would actually go toward this stadium deal. I often hear that these deals are horrible for taxpayers but it would be helpful to know an estimate of the actual burden in dollars on each person.

    • Very difficult to calculate since the money would be coming from existing city owned lands. Since DC has just about maxed out the amount they can charge in taxes (with the Nats Park), and hit their debt limit, they have to sell things to buy things. One question is what happens the next time there is a big deal if they spend all their available funds on the soccer stadium.

  • I go to 3-4 games a season and do not like the current stadium deal. It’s too much for taxpayers to shell out. A new stadium would be nice but it needs to be in DC. If DCU left DC, I may never see the team again.

    Who is “Anon,” the strident defender of the stadium deal? Who do you work for? The team? The city? The developer? One of their PR firms? Out yourself already. Otherwise, your perspective is crap.

    • I am Anon 9:50, not the first one.

      i do not work for any entity involved in the process.

      I am a DC resident, I support the deal. My perspective is my own.

      If you wish to call out all the “supporters”, why do you not ask that all the non-supporters of the deal provide a full disclosure as well?

    • I am one of the Anons, so there are at least two of us. I have no connection to anyone involved in the deal except that I’m a long time season ticket holder of DC United. I’m also an economist and a DC resident (and taxpayer, obviously), so I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on whether this is good or bad from several angles. My view is that if you are opposed to public funding of sports stadiums and other “cultural” facilities on principle, then that is fine and I will not try to change your mind on that. But if you are not opposed on principle, then I think this particular deal is a pretty good one. Way better than the Nats stadium deal; almost certainly better than any (hypothetical) deal that would bring the Redskins back to DC. There is a cost to the city, but it doesn’t involve new taxes or new debt for the city; it involves opportunity costs and subsidies. Whether the city sees a bigger return on a stadium compared to other potential uses of the same assets – well, who knows, since we don’t know what they would do otherwise (and make no mistake, it would involve spending money and providing tax breaks/subsidies too). But worst case the city won’t really lose, they just might not win as much.

    • Where do you see that taxpayers would be “shelling out” money? I’m a DCU fan with an actual grip on what the deal consists of, who are you?

  • yes ive been in the past
    i support a new stadium because rfk is terrible
    i dont support the city dishing out tons of cash for it though

  • I’d love to see an new stadium for DC United on the RFK grounds, assuming the old stadium is going to be bulldozed, but the SW location is certainly better than the status quo. They have great, loyal fans, and deserve to play at a proper stadium.

  • Never been to a DCU game, but I did go to a Washington Diplomats game at RFK once upon a time…

  • god I hate soccer. if I’m going to spend time watching a sport, there better be a winner at the end of the game. Any “sport” that can end in a tie should be banned. This is ‘merica. There needs to be winners and losers.

  • I may be wrong but is dc united the only team in MLS without its own stadium?
    With the amount of money thrown at MlB this would qualify as a sweet deal for the city.
    ALL YOU SOCCER DENIERS are like republicans. You just keep getting older and deny the changing demographics of this country.

    • Entitled much? The United deserve their own stadium, just because they exists and soccer is really hip, except that it’s not because attendance is lagging now that the newness has worn off.

      • “soccer is really hip, except that it’s not because attendance is lagging now that the newness has worn off.”

        While I am against a taxpayer-funded stadium, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Since MLS’s sophomore season, when the newness started to wear off, attendance has increased from 14,600 in 1997 to 15,500 in 2004, to 16,500 in 2008 to 18,600 in 2013. That is not a trend of lagging attendance.

        • In DC it is, the United were on of the first teams to take off in MLS, but their attendance had been lagging for years and their TV ratings are so low they couldn’t get their opener on cable.

  • One thing I don’t see noted here is that the United’s owner is from Indonesia, obviously the team is trying to keep that on the down low, but I’m surprised that the city hasn’t noted that there is foreign ownership. When the Nats ballpark deal was being negotiated the city insisted on local ownership, local like in the DC area. Why spend $150-250 million dollars on a guy who doesn’t even live in this country? He doesn’t care about the city’s best interests, just how much money he can siphon out.

    Another big point left out here is why Mayor Gray is supporting this deal, remember that the guy is corrupt to the core and his bag man is currently being investigated by the Feds, it’s the unions. Gray is getting major funding and support from the unions in exchange for promising them the construction work. Of course that means that most of the jobs will go to workers in Maryland.

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