New D.C. United stadium opposed by six out of 10 District residents

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There was a time in the not so distant past when public funding for a professional sports venues wasn’t that hard to get. Throw out a dubious economic study, evoke some civic pride, and mix in the threat of relocation, and you have a recipe for a series of publicly funded, privately used stadiums across the country. But now that those studies carry less weight, the economic climate’s forcing tougher decisions with tax payer money, and relocations have left a been-there, done-that feel with too many spots, pushing a stadium bill past a local government is harder than ever.

That’s why it shouldn’t be a big surprise that there’s so much opposition to D.C. United’s proposal for a new stadium, according to poll results released Sunday by the Washington Post. The bill, being pushed by D.C. Mayor Vincent Grey, has support from only 35 percent of the 1,003 residents polled, with most expressing skepticism about the district’s potential $150 million investment. Perhaps more concerning, at least one respondent said her opposition specifically concerns spending on soccer. From the Post:

Six in 10 District residents oppose the plan … with the number of those strongly opposed to the deal more than double those who strongly support it …

The proposed investment is less than one-fourth of what the city invested in Nationals Park, the baseball stadium that opened in 2008 and is now widely seen by city residents as a good investment … Rosalind Jackson-Lewis, a 57-year-old Riggs Park resident, said she is “absolutely, positively against it.” “There are more pressing problems in the city, and soccer is not going to add value to the city,” said Jackson-Lewis, a retired accountant …

The poll isn’t the only problem. In the middle of a reelection campaign, Grey is receiving pressure from within his own party about his support of the unpopular plan. The city has yet to secure the land it would donate for the project, and any financing plan (which involves selling an office building) would still have to be approved by the city council. It seems like we’ve been here before. There’s an apparent stadium plan for D.C., the MLS community gets excited, and then we’re reminded how difficult things get once we move beyond the soccer sphere. While MLS fans are as devoted as any, not everybody beyond that bubble is sold on soccer. While D.C. residents may be willing pay for $600 million baseball stadium, the idea of a smaller investment for soccer end up being a no-go. We’re just not there yet. According to the Post, it’s not just that District residents currently oppose a park. Residents have been historically consistent in their opposition to a new United venue:

Public opinion on a city-financed soccer stadium has not changed appreciably since 2008, when the last serious talks took place about a deal with D.C. United. At that time, 60 percent of residents opposed using public funds to finance a soccer facility, with 39 percent supporting. The new poll showed 59 percent opposing the current plan, with 35 percent in favor. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The Post has much more, especially about the proposed soccer stadium vis-a-vis Nationals Park. The question that I can’t get out of my mind, as somebody who has a vested interest in soccer’s growth: Should I be rooting for D.C. United to get this deal when most of the district’s citizens oppose it? We get so caught up in ‘Yay, they got a venue,’ and ‘wow, look at that new park,” that we never stop and consider how much those projects make sense outside of our soccer bubbles. Would a new park be great of United? Of course. Have you heard about the rats at RFK? But is it something that’s good for the District of Columbia? Should soccer fans want something that’s so unpopular with the people who will give up land and a building to get make it happen? D.C. United has some convincing to do.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard price ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).

Report: Chelsea, Real $38M apart on Hazard

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How much for Hazard?

Real Madrid are willing to pay $127 million, no small fee, to bring Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but that’s well off the Blues’ evaluation according to Sky Sports.

Chelsea sees Hazard’s price as $165 million. Belgian writer Kristof Terreur told Sky that Hazard wants his future sorted by June 4.

[ MORE: Bayern wins double ]

The Blues’ superstar is entering the final year of his contract, and could begin negotiating with other clubs in January and leave on a free transfer.

Hazard turns 29 in January. He recorded 19 goals and 16 assists in 51 matches this season, his best output in a Blues uniform.

The report says Chelsea feels no pressure to sell Hazard, but it would be a surprise if it dug in its heels too deeply considering the state of the Belgian’s contract.

Even for Chelsea, letting over $100 million walk out the door is wild, and for all Hazard’s won with Chelsea there’s also been consternation under several managers and a more than occasional habit of disappointing on the table.

MLS roundup: Timbers end road trip with emphatic win in Philly

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in MLS…

[ MORE: USA topped by Ukraine in U-20 World Cup opener ]

Philadelphia Union 1-3 Portland Timbers [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Just when everyone had begun to take the Union seriously — to give them the respect befitting a first-place team — Jim Curtin’s side fell flat on its face and fell out of the Eastern Conference’s top spot. Saturday’s defeat to the suddenly streaking — and homeward bound — Timbers snapped Philadelphia’s six-game unbeaten run (four wins).

24-year-old attacker Brian Fernandez, signed as a Designated Player earlier this month, made his first MLS start and marked the occasion with two first-half goals (31st and 36th minutes). Diego Valeri added the third (87th) after Kacper Przybylko pulled the Union back to 2-1 in the 47th.

Now, with 14 points from their 12-game road trip to start the season, Portland heads home for 17 of their final 22 games to be played inside a newly renovated — and expanded — Providence Park. The gap between themselves and a Western Conference playoff place is just four points.

New England Revolution 1-1 D.C. United [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

With the Union slipping up and dropping all three points, D.C. United made the most of their opportunity to return to the top of the East on the back of Wayne Rooney‘s 90th-minute penalty kick to snatch a 1-1 draw with (what will soon be) Bruce Arena’s Revolution.

Juan Agudelo put the home side ahead with a header in the 61st minute, and the lead held firm for nearly the final half-hour. Alas, video review reviewed a handball late in the game, which presented Rooney the chance to play the part of hero. He duly obliged and hammered his spot kick past backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who replaced Matt Turner following his 56th minute red card for cleaning out Rooney.

Arena is expected to take charge of Revs training this week and make his debut as head coach next Sunday, when his new side visits… his old side, the LA Galaxy.

Colorado Rapids 3-2 Columbus Crew SC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Don’t look now, but the Rapids have won two straight games under interim head coach Conor Casey and appear set on clawing their way out of the league’s basement.

Sure, they blew a pair of leads at home, but they also hit back with another goal of their own every time Crew SC drew level, culminating in a stunning winner from Nicolas Mezquida.

The gap between Colorado and 23th place is now just three points, as expansion side FC Cincinnati come closer and closer on the horizon.

Elsewhere in MLS

Chicago Fire 1-1 New York City FC [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 FC Dallas [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
FC Cincinnati 0-2 New York Red Bulls [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Minnesota United 1-0 Houston Dynamo [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders — 6 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. San Jose Earthquakes — 7:30 p.m. ET

Will winning the double be enough to keep Kovac at Bayern?

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BERLIN (AP) Niko Kovac is the first to win a domestic double in Germany as a player and coach, yet it may not be enough to keep his job as Bayern Munich coach.

[ MORE: Valencia end Barcelona’s four-year hold on Copa del Rey ]

Kovac, whose side defeated Leipzig 3-0 in the German Cup final on Saturday, a week after clinching the Bundesliga title, is yet to be given assurances in public from the club that he will remain in charge, despite bringing a successful end to what had been a testing season.

The pressure and uncertainty appeared to cast a shadow on what was Kovac’s second successive German Cup win — he was Eintracht Frankfurt coach when the side defeated Bayern in the final last year.

“Last year I was leaving the team. This year everything is a little less emotional, no tears, but still, I’m happy,” Kovac said.

“Sometimes I would really wish that things went a little differently. It’s difficult to turn the wheel back. We should all work on it, we’re all human. We should make sure that we get along with each other.”

[ U-20 WORLD CUP: Ezequiel Barco’s golazo paces Argentina to big win ]

Kovac, who won the double as a player in 2003, acknowledged the cup win on Saturday was “very important” as “it shows that we have worked well.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was again coy when pressed on the coach’s future.

“At the end of the day, we have to get titles. Of course the coach plays a central role,” Rummenigge said. “It was never an issue for us with the term that he has until 2021, that he would simply not be there anymore as coach beforehand.”