D.C. United Stadium
|Capacity||20,000 – 25,000|
|Construction cost||$180 million–$195 million|
|D.C. United (MLS)|
D.C. United Stadium is an informal name that has been given for a proposed soccer-specific stadium to be built in Buzzard Point in Washington, D.C. This planned stadium would be the home stadium for the D.C. United team of Major League Soccer, and would seat 20,000–25,000 people. Previously, D.C. United had explored sites in the Washington, D.C. area. Ever since an initial stadium proposal in 2006, D.C. United has had two additional stadium proposals that failed to be built.
Although the plan was approved by the D.C. City Council in December 2014, disagreements over land acquisition followed and in May 2015, the team discussed sites in Loudoun County, Virginia.
The first stadium proposal, colloquially known as "Poplar Point Stadium", would have been built in the new Poplar Point neighborhood, south of the Anacostia River, with the stadium overlooking Nationals Park, the home ballpark for the Washington Nationals baseball team. The stadium, expected to seat 24,000–30,000, was to be part of mixed housing and development in one contractor's bid. Government Finance Group, as financial advisor to the owners of the DC United team, worked on the land use design and financial and economic feasibility, which would have resulted in approximately $3.0 billion mixed-use development at Popular Point. That bid stalled, however, when there were financial arguments as to how much of the stadium would be funded by the city, the contractors and the club itself. The initial proposal fell through in the summer of 2007. Despite the failed bid, then-mayor of D.C., Adrian Fenty opted to have a closed-door meeting in February 2008 to discuss the city funding $150 million for the club. However, despite a short-lived renewed interest, when the D.C. Council recessed in July 2008, the plan never was brought up, and ultimately failed.
After the failed first bid, the second stadium plan involved constructing a stadium in adjacent Prince George's County, Maryland. In February 2009, United co-owner Victor MacFarlane announced the club had been in discussions with the Prince George's County Board of Supervisors to discuss the possibility of a new stadium for the club. Two months later, the legislation for a new stadium failed to pass the board, leaving the club without a stadium plan.
In January 2011, it was reported that the club was looking into building a stadium in the Buzzard Point neighborhood in the city. The project, backed by the developing company Akridge, would be a few blocks away from Nationals Park and replace an old, underused parking lot in-between 1st and 2nd Streets SW.
Several months later, Akridge Properties published a website stating the potential use of the land. Both Akridge and D.C. Council had raised the possibility of the land being partially used for a new United stadium, but the club itself declined to comment on such a stadium possibility. At the same time the team had considered a stadium at the current site of Capital City Market.
In 2012, United was sold to a group led by Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir and attorney Jason Levien, with former principal owner William Chang remaining as a minority partner. Buzzard Point remained the preferred option, as well as a dedication to remaining in Washington, D.C. (as evidenced by signing a two-year lease with the city to remain in RFK Stadium, and cutting off the top row of seats at the stadium for the first time in club history). United returned to their plan with no real target date for building or opening.
D.C. United announced on July 25, 2013 that they had a signed term sheet with the city for the construction of a new stadium at Buzzard Point. Under the July 2013 deal, the District of Columbia would give an undetermined about of cash as well as a government building (the Reeves Center at 14th and U Streets NW) to a local developer, Akridge, in exchange for Akridge-owned property at Buzzard Point. (Akridge's property constituted about a quarter of the land needed for the stadium.) DC United would kick the $150 million needed to construct the stadium on the city-owned land, which it would rent for 20 to 35 years. The deal also gave DC United the right to build restaurants, bars, and even a hotel nearby.
The Buzzard Point plan — officially known as the District of Columbia Soccer Stadium Act of 2014 — passed unanimously through City Council on December 2, 2014, and in its second and final vote, the D.C. Council officially passed the Buzzard Point plan on December 17, 2014. The December legislation significantly revised the July 2013 agreement. No longer would the city give Akridge a building and cash. The city proposed paying fair market value for the Akridge land. If a deal could not be reached through negotiation, the legislation gave the city the right to use eminent domain to seize the land. Outgoing mayor Vincent Gray signed the bill into law on December 30, as one of the final acts of his term. Negotiations between the city and Akridge began in January 2015. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson was downbeat about the talks, saying the two sides were "very far apart" on a price.
Mayor Muriel Bowser, Gray's successor, budgeted $106.3 million in fiscal 2016 to acquire the stadium site, add infrastructure (such as water, sewer, electrical, and natural gas lines), and remove toxic hazards at the site. Once construction begins, the stadium is expected to take 14 to 16 months to complete.
Other sites considered
Before deciding on Buzzard Point as its stadium location, D.C. United had previously considered alternative locations in Washington D.C. and in Maryland. After reaching the deal with Washington, the team discussed potential sites in Norther Virginia with local officials.
Originally, D.C. United proposed building a stadium at Poplar Point on the Anacostia riverfront in Washington, D.C. as part of a planned 110-acre (0.45 km2) mixed-use development that would have included a hotel, offices, housing, and retail. Plans were formulated as early as 2005 and were formally announced in January 2007.
However, in July 2007, the talks stalled between the team and city officials. There were disputes over the financial arrangements proposed by the team, which would have the city providing $200 million in subsidies and development rights while the team assumed construction costs. In January 2008, the team announced it was looking at other possible sites in the area for construction of the new stadium.
In February 2008, Washington, D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty suggested at a closed-door city council meeting that the city might offer as much as $150 million towards the costs of building a soccer stadium at Poplar Point. There was apparently renewed interest on the part of the city in providing public funds for the stadium at Poplar Point. However, in July 2008, the D.C. Council recessed without considering the proposed stadium plan.
Prince George's County
Maryland first expressed an interest in United as talks stalled in summer 2007. United co-owner Victor MacFarlane announced in February 2009, that the team would instead seek a new stadium in Prince George's County.
However, county officials began expressing concerns about revenue from the stadium in March, and on April 7, the Prince George’s County Council voted to outline its concern to the Maryland General Assembly about a proposed state legislation that would authorize a feasibility study for the new stadium. The legislation stalled in the Statehouse and died without the support of the Prince George's Council.
Following the failure of the Prince George's County proposal, United began surveying fans about the possibility of relocating to Loudoun County, Virginia, Frederick County, Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland. However, no public negotiations ever began.
In October 2009, the Baltimore Sun reported that Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon has asked the Maryland Stadium Authority to explore the possibility of building a 17,000- to 20,000-seat soccer stadium that could serve as D.C. United's permanent home, as well as host concerts, lacrosse games and other events, to woo D.C. United to Baltimore. The proposed stadium complex, according to Dixon's letter, would be part of a "green mixed-use project" with access to light rail, Interstates 95 and 295. A potential location mentioned for the stadium was in the 42-acre (170,000 m2) Westport Waterfront project.
Meanwhile, in March 2010, MLS commissioner Don Garber criticized politicians of Washington, D.C. for how long it has taken to find D.C. United a permanent home stadium.
Discussions continued with Baltimore and other sites in Maryland, with a feasibility study released in December 2010. However, the club opted to refocus its efforts on finding a location within the District.
In May 2015, team officials visited potential sites in Loudoun County, Virginia, and met with county and state officials about building a stadium in Northern Virginia rather than Washington. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe's economic development team suggested sites in Woodbridge, Virginia and Loudoun, while Loudoun County officials had multiple meetings with team officials . In a letter to the team, Loudoun economic development director Buddy Rizer wrote that a stadium in Virginia would be $38 million cheaper than in D.C. and be ready by the 2017 season, which the team claimed was not possible in Washington.
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