New D.C. United Soccer Stadium Staying in DC

dc united

Looks like the Virginia crisis/threat has been averted. From the Mayor’s office:

“Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a final agreement between the District government and D.C. United that clears the way for D.C. United to build a new soccer stadium in the District of Columbia. The signed agreements include improved deal terms which will result in better financial protections for District of Columbia residents, clarify the size and timeline of the stadium, and strengthen community engagement. The Bowser Administration will submit legislation to the Council of the District of Columbia for final review.

“Thanks to the hard work of the District government and D.C. United staff, a world-class soccer stadium will call Buzzard Point home – for good,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “This agreement will add vibrancy to a neighborhood on the banks of the Anacostia River and generate jobs for District residents as my Administration creates pathways to the middle class. With this agreement, Washington, D.C. remains the #SportsCapital, and Washingtonians stand together to declare: Vamos United!”

“This is a significant step forward for D.C. United and the District of Columbia,” said D.C. United Managing General Partner Jason Levien. “We commend the tireless efforts of Mayor Bowser, Deputy Mayor Kenner and the administration. More than anything, we thank our fans and supporters for their dedication and commitment to the club.”

“I am pleased we finally have the soccer stadium locked down,” said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. “The Council cleared the way last December, approving the deal and providing the funding. The District has been ready to go for months, and this agreement ensures the team stays located with its fan base.”

Through negotiations with D.C. United, the Bowser Administration was able to ensure that the stadium provides robust community benefits for District residents and secured and executed a No Relocation Agreement.

In March, Mayor Muriel Bowser joined Local 25 Union and D.C. United to sign a Labor Peace Agreement that will create middle-class hospitality jobs and expand the positive impact of the District’s investment in the stadium. In December, as Mayor-Elect, Bowser delinked the Frank R. Reeves Center from the soccer stadium deal in order to protect the interests of District residents.”

34 Comment

  • What’s the under/over for when this actually gets done? I bet they play in a new stadium for the 2022 season.

    • It’s “supposed” to be ready by the 2018 season . . . I have my doubts. But a 20,000 seat soccer stadium without all of the crazy amenities of NFL/MLB wouldn’t take an overly long time. The question is when do they actually start construction.

      • I don’t know–my college built a new football stadium in the past few years, and from announcement to opening game it was at most two years. Seats 30,000 people, some suites but nothing crazy like an NFL stadium. Doable.

    • Last I read they wanted to get it done for the 2017 season, and it would take about 12-16 months to build it. So…going by that, if they start construction this fall, early winter they should be able to get it done. It’s in the teams best interest to get it built soon, being at RFK is a huge money loser for them.

      • No, it’s going to take 2 years when you include land preparation, moving utilities, etc. 2018 is reasonable if they can get the land acquired by the winter. Start land work in February 2016, finish the building in early March 2018, right before the season starts.

        But watch out for the land acquisition, that’s going to be the key to the timeline. If the District ends up using eminent domain and there are significant legal challenges, that will throw everything off. Look at how long it took to get things cleared up at Skyland- that was around 5 years. Probably won’t be the case here, as there is real money to be made by those landowners, but if they get an offer they don’t like, they will try (or threaten) to tie things up in court. If that happens, the timeline is blown up and no way it opens in March 2018.

        • My understanding is that the city gets the land almost as soon as they file. The years-long court battle which follows doesn’t actually hold up the taking. That’s what happened with the Nats stadium, anyway.

        • Some parcels of land have already changed hands. The parking lot at Half and R SW was just recently transferred from Pepco to the District. There may be others.

        • jcm is correct. Once the city invokes eminent domain they get the land. The legal battle, if there is one, will simply be about compensation. Fair or not that’s how it works.

          Akridge (the developer) hold the key plot that may need to be acquired this way. They were originally to get the Reeves Center at 14th and U for their land plus cash but Bowser nixed that when she came into office. The are likely quite unhappy about that.

    • I think there will be a big push to have it reasonably completed by the 2018 MLB All-Star game next door. The aerial shots would make a nice advertisement.

      Now, especially in DC, a “big push” still leaves a lot of room for slop, so I don’t have great confidence that it’ll actually happen; just wanted to point out the extra hypothetical incentive.

  • justinbc

    Thank God, I was worried for a moment that Virginia would be wasting their tax dollars instead of letting us do it!

    • You haven’t read that recent Post article about a $200 million non-existent road in VA I take it.

    • Mixed feelings on that. Had they found a nice, easily accessible spot in Arlington or Alexandra it might have been a win-win for DC. This has gotta be better than building it in some nowheresville cornfield in Loudoun County.

      • Better for United and their fans in DC and Maryland, sure. Better for the rest of us? Nope. I would much rather see my tax dollars used for a development at Buzzard point that revolve around a giant building that’s dark for 347 days a year.

        • What exactly is the tax hit to the DC taxpayer here? I haven’t really seen that discussion. $100 million? $200 million? I think the idea is that with the redevelopment of that area with the stadium, you also bring in additional retail, housing, offices, etc. like what you see today around Nats Park. With that also comes a lot of tax revenue. Likely a lot more over time than what you put up front. Navy Yard would likely have seen development over time, but I find it truly hard to believe it would look like it does today without the Nats Stadium. These debates are the same that happened when they proposed Nats Stadium and in the decade since, I find it hard to believe the stadium wasn’t a win for the city.

          Now, if the alternative is something else there rather than this MLS stadium, which no one seems to be proposing right now, then fine. But as it stands, a stadium there and the surrounding development it brings, is worth it in my opinion. I know most of my friends who own in SW are supportive, and for good reason. You have to look beyond that one parcel of land and the impact it will have all around it. That is all money, money, money for the city. Complain about the handouts to private developers who build things that do very little for any given taxpayer. At least this is something for the entire city.

          • Yes, it might bring in some development and foot traffic, but at what price? If the city wants to burn a couple hundred million dollars, is a soccer stadium that’s often vacant going to be the best way to activate this area of town? Remember that an MLB team plays 80 home games. For soccer it’s less than 20, right?

            If you want to revitalize this part of town, invest $200 million in a top-quality magnet school and make it automatically available to residents of the neighborhood. Kaboom.

    • I agree 100%. At least we’re no longer discussing a football stadium or the Olympics. This is chump change compared to what that would cost.

    • I think everyone knows now that stadium are bad public investments (from a pure $$$ standpoint). What is also true, however, is that they are cultural amenities that many people want. Elected officials react to that. I suppose the challenge is to make the “least bad” deal for the taxpayer.

      From that perspective I think this particular deal is a reasonable one for DC taxpayers.

    • I think the difference here is the stadiums mentioned and the subject of that analysis are not downtown stadiums but suburban ones. Compare the impact of FedEx Field to the immediate surrounding area versus Nats Stadium.

      I’m sorry, but I’m not buying this argument for a stadium in downtown DC. The United stadium is a good thing.

      • I’m curious how you know the Nats stadium is responsible for the development taking place around it. Lots of places in DC, such as NoMa, have done well over the past decade without a stadium being built near them.

  • You realize that the economic literature on this is basically unanimous in saying that these projects don’t “create” jobs – it’s simply taking in one hand and giving with the other.

  • I am most excited about this thing hosting summer-shed-sized concerts in DC, as opposed to trekking out to MPP/Jiffy Lube Live.

    • Great point. I’ve skipped a lot of concerts at Jiffy Lube and Merriwether simply because I don’t want to trek out to either location, deal with a car rental, designated driver, etc.

    • I have my doubts that the field managers will want concert goers standing on the grass while the season is still active. Soccer seasons run during the summer, which is when you’d actually want to have a concert at the fields.

      If you’ve been to one of the post-game shows at the ballpark you can see how their managers handle it: no one can leave the clay infield. The Taylor Swift concert is during the All-Star Break, so there’s at least a small gap between when people can be on the outfield turf and when the players need it again.

      • MLS stadiums host summer concerts in-season. Dick’s (CO Rapids) covers the field to allow general admission on both the field and in the stands. It seems to work fine, with games less than a week later.

      • they’re renters since they don’t want to spend the $$ to build it themselves. It’s not DCU’s call

  • Between this and the new pop-up regulations, it’s just a banner land use week for DC. /sarcasm/

  • If I understand what I’m reading on Twitter, the site will be prepped by 9/1/2016 with 16 months for construction. Sounds like a 2018 opening.

  • Wow. Looks like Bowser did an Anthony Williams and swallowed! Let’s see:
    1. MLK Library falling apart. Check.
    2. After building a new HS, tear down 20 year HS rather use the facility for B&G Club. Check.
    3. After building a new convention center, tear down 20 year convention center rather than use for homeless. Check.
    4. Quid pro quo to developers with knee pads. Check.

  • Disagree with you all. This is great news for the city. It will add to the development of the area and the investment will pay for itself in the long run.

  • As a 30-year DC resident and big DC United fan, I am VERY excited about the new stadium. Can’t wait to go see some matches — it’ll be a great venue!!

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