Hearing news of a new Major League Soccer stadium is usually a somewhat joyous occasion, particularly when that news concerns the franchise with the greatest need for a new venue. But that team, D.C. United, have been down this road so often that any mention of “tentative,” “preliminary,” “hinges on,” “have not been finalized,” or “would require approval” reminds us that D.C. fans have developes a kind of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a decade of empty speculation.
Only time will tell if that syndrome ever goes away, but per the Washington Post’s reporting, there could be a cure come 2016, with D.C. mayor Vincent Gray reportedly ready to announce a new venue at Buzzard’s Point.
D.C. United executives and District officials have reached a preliminary $300 million deal to build a 20,000-seat stadium for the team on Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington.
The agreement, team and city leaders said, could end a decade-long search by the Major League Soccer franchise for a new venue that would allow it to leave RFK Stadium, where D.C. United has played since its founding in 1996 but where its investors say the team loses money every year …
But the plan hinges on a series of proposed land swaps and development projects across the city that could lead to political and logistical land mines. And convincing District residents and lawmakers to back the deal is likely to open old wounds over the divisive fight to build Nationals Park, which the District paid for entirely …
In the agreement, several aspects of which have not been finalized and would require approval from the D.C. Council, the District and United would split the costs for the project, with the city providing about $150 million to assemble land and prepare the site and the team spending a similar amount building the stadium. Levien said the team had yet to decide whether to build a 20,000-seat stadium with room for expansion or build 25,000 seats at the start.
Lest we sound too skeptical about the stadium, it should be noted that Post scribe Steven Goff, a man who’s been around D.C. United and Major League Soccer from the get-go, is slightly more even-handed about the deal’s potential:
It’s a complicated proposal, requiring land swaps and the city council’s blessings. Under the best circumstances, United would not christen the venue until 2016 – 17 years after the first soccer-specific MLS stadium was introduced in Columbus, Ohio.
But after failed efforts at Poplar Point in Southeast and Prince George’s County, flirtations with Baltimore, exploration in Montgomery County and Virginia, even the fear the team would have to leave the area, United is willing to wait a little longer to complete the most promising proposal since this arduous and frustrating search began …
Buzzard Point does have drawbacks … Those, though, are the least of United’s concerns. There are the many moving parts to the deal. There is the City Council, which features three members who are running for mayor. There are residents bruised by the baseball stadium ordeal.
This clearly has the potential to be a watershed moment for D.C. United. Read Goff’s entire piece and you’ll know the history of a storied franchise that’s seen significance, support and standing wane because of its current home. It’s a situation so bleak that you can’t help but embrace any potential for a new stadium, even if every turn finds a new contingency.
So if, over the next few days, you read “D.C. to get new stadium,” you’re not wrong to think a qualifier’s missing. But you’re also not wrong to hope this version of the fairy tale actually comes true.
From CSN Washington: