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D.C. United reach deal with D.C. mayor on stadium deal

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The wait for a D.C. United stadium has been long and arduous, but it could be coming to a close amid reports that a new stadium project is moving toward completion.

According to multiple reports on Wednesday, D.C. United and the District of Columbia mayor, Vincent C. Gray, have reached a tentative agreement for the Major League Soccer club to move forward with plans for building a soccer specific stadium in Buzzards Point, along the Washington D.C. waterfront.

(UPDATE: D.C. United confirmed the reports on Thursday morning.)

Since their inception in 1996, D.C. United have played in the aging RFK Stadium, which was built with the intention of hosting football and baseball games.

Before building the proposed $300 million 20,000 to 25,000 seat stadium, D.C city officials must agree to a number of land swaps with D.C. based real-estate firm Akridge to acquire enough space to build not only the stadium, but potentially an area with restaurants, shops, and maybe even a hotel.

If the deal is approved, D.C. United would reportedly be given a 25-35 year lease on the land, with the ownership group already committing to moving into the new stadium in the 2016 season. The site for the proposed stadium is also just moments away from MLB’s National Park.

According to one report, stadium talks became more advanced when D.C. United was purchased by Erick Thohir and Jason Levien and their consortium in July 2012. D.C. United would become the 13th team in the league with their own soccer specific stadium.


What do you think of this news? Excited to see good news on the D.C. United stadium front? Do you like the proposed stadium location?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Atmosphere = casual fans = bigger fan base = sell-outs, merchandise, players wanting to play here. This is huge that it’s 20k (very good idea, keep it tight), and more importantly that it’s downtown (sort of, but in the city anyway and way more integrated than RFK). And the team paying for the stadium makes this much easier to support politically.

    Don’t know where the various mayoral candidates stand on this, and most are already on the city council. And if it relies on Barry, well, that’s not exactly a solid foundation. But he’s been pushing for this stadium for awhile, if I remember correctly. If he really is an “activist” somewhere inside of there and not all ego, he’d have to be smoking crack not to support it.


  2. you can thank me all for this. i moved to San Diego 9 months ago and came back to visit. i got in at 6am on Wednesday and then the deal was made. then confirmed today. you are welcome. you can thank me for the good weather too.

    also, i’ll buy season tickets even though i don’t live here anymore.

  3. Great news for them, long overdue and glad to hear they will be in a quality side of town. I hope they really go all out with this place as 1. Dcu deserves something like RBA/Sporting Park and 2. This place will absolutly be a frequent venue for the USNT’s and other big games

  4. Congrats DC, now make something like SKC or a mini century link from sounders. No more fc dallas or stub hub centers. Maybe a little touch to the crest and go back to the old unis.

    • I would love little more than a return to the three stripes. But as long as kits in MLS are determined by a deal with the League, rather than the individual teams, it ain’t gonna happen, for DC or for anyone else.

  5. I’m not a DC fan…. but wow is this over-due. I really love to see this as it can be nothing but good for the league for DC to get itself back into the mix and back to pushing for titles. This is a franchise/fanbase that helped carry/establish MLS in the early years… would love to see them rewarded after some rough years. A quality stadium for supporters to call their own would do wonders to reinvigorate supporter, lure talent re establish a foothold in a great soccer market and make MLS a stronger, more entertaining league. Hope it pans out.

    • Hear hear! The Screaming Eagles were my introduction into domestic fan groups and having the stand bounce was an early fond memory for me in my viewing of the nascent days of MLS.

  6. This is good. However, I think MLS and others are selling soccer short in this country. I hope that this stadium and others are built in such a way that they can be expanded in the future. I think we are getting close to that day where soccer really takes off as a sport in the US. 70k and 80 k at the last 2 Gold Cup matches, 50 k at a recent Galaxy – Earthquakes game, Sounders selling 36k every game. 20 to 25 k stadiums may soon be too small to fill the demand for tickets. It may not be the way for a couple of years, but it could very well be in a decade.

    • This is a good and optimistic point. However, I don’t think that you can pull off a deal for a 50k+ stadium in DC in the near future, especially if it’s soccer-only. The pro-stadium faction still faces a lot of resistance from a lot of DC residents who (rightly) still feel sore about footing the bill for Nats Park. While FedEx is inconveniently-located in the extreme, it still is a fairly new mega-stadium, and unless DCU’s ownership wants to throw their hats in with a prospective Redskins move into the District (which is unlikely and unwise) I can’t see them getting green-lit for a big multi-sport park. It does mean that the new park may be a questionable venue for the biggest of international competitions, but speaking as a DCU supporter and local resident, having a positive plan for a new 20-25k stadium in a developing area of town definitely beats putting things off indefinitely just to see if a more expensive mega-stadium is possible.

    • I doubt Kraft cares that much. He probably makes tons of money off the Patriots, likely more than enough to make up for any losses from the Revs.

    • It could be a good area. They built the baseball stadium down there amid lots of development talk. There have been articles about the baseball stadium being a bit of a black hole for tax payers.

      It’s not as scenic as they are making it out to be in the papers, but it’s not as bad as a few nay sayers on here. There’s potential for it, but it needs more than a couple stadiums to bring back families and a consistent “scene.”

      • And, more recently, there have been articles on how the city is retiring the debt on Nats Park way ahead of time, that development is booming there, and that the city is turning a profit.

    • For a developed urban area–it’s very good. It’s a couple of block from another stadium (so there is a possibility of synergy in terms of restaurants and bars and shared parking). It’s urban (so some people can walk to the stadium and others can take a taxi). It’s near the water so eventually you could take a water taxi to the game. Most of all, most major urban areas don’t have large swaths of land available for a stadium. The tracts of land they do have usually have environmental problems, crime problems, or access problems (or you are stuck putting your stadium in Frisco or Commerce City). From an urban perspective, this is about as good of a location as is possible. It’s undeveloped and un-used land near water, not too far from highways or metro, not especially crime-ridden, no major environmental issues, not a lot of tear-down required, room for other development, and some possible synergies (Nationals Park, waterfront). Any other options that are better are unrealistic–like putting it on top of an existing metro stop or tearing down a national landmark or leveling 10 blocks of currently used office high-rises.

  7. Question for DC fans. Other than DC United using RFK, who else uses it? If nobody else is using it, can they just tear it down and build one there.

    • No. As outlined above, RFK is actually owned by the National Park Service, who rents the land to the DC Sports and entertainment commission. And the land is way to big for a soccer stadium alone. Combined withy eh adjacent misty abandoned DC General Hospital complex, you’re looking at the last couple hundred acres of undeveloped waterfront land in the area. With a metro stop, no less. I bet the land and development rights, were they for sale, would be in the neighborhood of a billion dollars (yes, with a b) you’re talking about tens of thousands of housing units, retail, office space. Or, just like St Elizabeth’s, it’ll become another federal office building campus.

      • Now that I think about it, the FBI should move in on this site. They need a new HQ. Tear down RFK and that old hospital, and you could build a cool new FBI HQ. Plus there is already a metro stop!

      • Who’s gonna pay for it? Not DC, that would literally take an act of congress, despite running surpluses, DC is at its debt ceiling and literally cannot borrow the billion-plus a new stadium would cost. I don’t see the Feds paying (or do think you can convince congress to write Dan Snyder a billion dollar check? Danny himself? I guess he could borrow that much. But again, this is a federal issue, I don’t see Danny getting this through congress any time soon.

      • not sure if you are from here, but a simple google search will give you a good idea of what the plan is. Congress will not prevent the Skins from going back there. that is the ONE thing everyone seems to agree on…that they want the Skins back at that lot.

        who is going to pay for it? THAT is a good question. but it’ll happen. people are obsessed with the Skins and everyone wants it to happen.

      • I am from here. And I can tell you that legally, the District, including the Sports and Entertainment commission, cannot pay for it, issue bonds for it or guarantee bonds for it without a change in DC’s debt cap.

        And since it is a violation of federal law for a private citizen to make improvements on federal land, it would take a change in federal law to allow a stadium to be built on the federal parkland that is the RFK site.

        So here are the hoops required to build SnyderField: congress would have to give the land to either DC, DCSEC or the Redskins. Or it would have to be bought (after another act of congress) for probably $500m. The dc council would have to change the statutory debt ceiling from 12 percent to probably 14-15 percent and borrow $2b. I don’t see that happening in the next three years, do you? Because assuming this new stadium is built, the clock is ticking. On January 1, the year after DCU leaves RFK, the lease is terminated, and RFK belongs to the Feds. What federal constituency wants a redskins stadium there? Maryland? Virginia? Arkansas?

      • good info and you are not wrong. but i still think, for the Redskins, it’ll get done. it might be a pain in the @ss and there might be a ton of hurdles, but the plan has always been to bring them back to that site. i’m not commenting on a time frame, because who knows. but i just think there is too much of a push for it not to happen eventually.

    • There are no other tenants at the RFK, though it used intermittently for other events (friendlies, etc). To answer your question, no they can’t tear it down and rebuild on that land. It is federal land and the city leases it from the federal government. Any plan to make significant alterations to the land or the stadium would require permission from Congress.

    • Why would United want to pay 3x to build a new stadium on the same land, and locate in an inferior, probably much smalerl site in the meantime?

    • Howard University plays a few football games there. There is a HS all-star football game that is played there. There was a car race held in the parking lots some years ago. Some visiting soccer teams (the Salvadoran National team has been known to play friendlies there). I just checked and between this date and November, there are TWO non-soccer events scheduled at RFK: a Howard Univ. football game and a concert. So no, no regular tenants.

  8. Time for some new moderation software guys. What you’re using doesn’t work as my multiple attempts to make an innocuous post demonstrate.

  9. DC United and their “fans” don’t deserve it, but I hope this deal goes through. It would be good for MLS and that area of the city. Was just at a Nats game this weekend and that area is really growing. Should be awesome in a few years.

  10. I hate DC United and their fans as much as the next guy but I hope this deal goes through. It would be good for MLS and that area of the city. Was just at a Nats game this weekend and that area is really growing. Should be awesome in a few years.

  11. This is about as good a stadium deal as the city could get. Council will be hard pressed to reject it as it will require no issuing of bonds and minimal cash from the city. The two keys to getting this through are the land swap with Akridge. The property at 14th St and U St is a gold mine that the city owns, but is stuck with a relic of a city building on (bearing Marion Barry’s name unfortunately). If the council will agree to give that building to Akridge in exchange for the stadium land, this deal gets done. The property taxes alone that the city would make from the land at 14th and U would be awesome, but Akridge would likely redevelop that spot to increase its value even further. If Barry and his supporters are OK with that building coming down and moving those workers (looks like they’re headed to Barry’s ward) this thing will happen. Ein and Pepco will be much easier to deal with.

  12. Love the long-term strategy of building the waterfront stadium. So much potential for a water polo specific stadium down the road.

  13. One of the key points that is missing from the narrative above is that the DC city government is reticent about future stadium deals after being hoodwinked by the Washington Nationals. To quote from the Washington Post article, “many residents [read: voters} remain unhappy with the city’s deal to build Nationals Park, which, at nearly $700 million, far surpassed cost estimates and did not meet local hiring goals. ” The stadium has not generated the projected tax revenue from ticket and parking sales and interest payments will eclipse $1billion by the time the principal is paid off.

    Though the deal crafted by DCU’s owners and the DC city goverment is impressive and won’t be burdensome for the DC taxpayer, in an election year untruthful narratives can be magically spun up to win votes.

  14. Neither the team or the city can so much in the way of renovating RFK because it is on federal land. Any major change on the land would essentially require an act of Congress approving it, good luck with that.

    As far as stadium deals go this is a pretty good one, please keep in mind it is a $300 million DEAL, not a $300M stadium. The city will swap lands with, and sell a government building to a developer and use the money ($150M) from the swap to improve water and other infrastructure around the stadium site. The team would then pay $150 million for the stadium (its entire cost) leaving the city with roughly zero cost (at least, that is what they say). The city is essentially broadening tax base by getting rid of old city office buildings in favor of private development.

    There are obviously HUGE hurdles to overcome here, but this is the best stadium deal that for a municipality that I’ve seen in a very long time. The fact that it is practically budget neutral is something that is essential, since the city ended up paying the entire tab for Nationals Park which was well over $600M.

    • I understand they don’t own it, I am saying it is worhtless to everyone except them…but it for nothing.

      Well there are hurdles either way, but with one you have a real stadium, with the other you have hurdles in 10 years when 20-25k isn’t enough seating.

      If you haven’t been to BCPlace, you can’t throw out that others, who probably haven’t been either don’t like it….just not allowed.

      • How do you propose you “Buy” land for the US Government. Especially land that isn’t for sale? Even if by some miracle they convinced the US Gov to literally put it up for the sale – it would still have to be an open process going to the highest bidder and there would be plenty of interested parties who would want to develop that land.

        To those who say “renovate or build at RFK” have to realize even the Redskins couldnt pull that off and they have WAY more political power than DC United.

        And frankly Congress has more important things to do than help DC get a Stadium (sadly)

      • Among the convoluted errors in this post…20k-25k seating is just fine for United. Also, the USSF has no problem scheduling USMNT matches in stadia that size.

      • The costs of redeveloping RFK are such that the only stadium that will ever be built there will be Dan Snyder’s answer to Jerry Jones enormodome.

        The land swaps here are difficult, but DC should end up with some badly needed new facilities for the the police department, along with eliminating a bunch of decaying properties from the balance sheet. If the deal is done right and fast, it could actually end up being budget positive for the District, even before the stadium breaks ground.

      • exactly. they already have plans for a $1B-$3B stadium on the RFK site. retractable roof and seats up to 120,000. they specifically stated they want it to be able to host a World Cup final, the Super Bowl, and the Olympics.

  15. I don’t get it still. How much would RFK sell for ? I am guessing zero….maybe less…seriously.
    So now they build a $300 million stadium, instead ?

    Why not renovate RFK and have a real stadium for $300 million ?

    It worked in Vancouver…

    • They don’t own RFK. RFK is owned (really a very long term lease from the USG) by the government of DC, operated by some weirdo public-private partnership.

      An even more important reason to do a new stadium is so DCU owns it–and can generate revenue in the offseason via other events.

    • RFK is owned by the federal government, as is all the land it sits on. The lease back to the District of Columbia is very complicated, requiring tenants and other stipulations, or else the land reverts back to the feds. Any deal changing RFK would, literally, require an act of Congress. There’s a sub-committee in the US House that would actually start that process – it’s currently run by a Congressman from South Carolina that doesn’t give a damn about DC, so that’s going no where.

      In addition, estimates on what it would cost to renovate RFK are excessive for a 50 year old building. The new stadium doesn’t cost $300 million, it costs $150 million, and DC United is paying for that. The other $150 million comes from the city in the form of land swaps and infrastructure improvement. All of this will happen in a growing area of the city, near where the baseball stadium is. The soccer stadium and it’s development will push the renovated area further west – almost to the Potomac. Next to it is a Coast Guard facility, that is about to close. With new development next to it, that area will also be ripe for new development when that facility closes.

      It’s actually a very well thought out plan – so it will probably collapse.

    • Does RFK have any other week-in week-out tenants? You’d think renovating the place would be superior to having it turn into the Astrodome.

      • No other tenants really beside United. There’s a bowl game, and other groups occasionally rent it (an Ethiopian group recently used it for a tournament and tore up the field so badly that they have ripped out all the grass to re-sod it. It would be cheaper to raze and rebuild than to try and rescue an outdated, under-sized (for American football) and literally crumbling facility.

        If the Skins come back, I would assume a retractable roof.

      • DC wants the Skins back in the District and hope to one day have a new stadium on that site for the Skins. No way they would ever give the place to DC United.

      • Yes. The Skins can get out of their lease earlier than that, but it will cost them. For the right facility, though, Snyder would bolt. Give him the right to develop some of the land around it, and he’ll be happy to pay the penalty.

      • in 2010 they were already saying FedEx was too old and that they want to build a $1-$3B stadium with a retractable roof and seats up to 120,000 where RFK is. they want a stadium that will host a World Cup final, the Olympics, and the Super Bowl.

      • Hahaha. You owe me $50 when you’re proven wrong, agreed?

        There’s an unwritten rule — anyone who starts off a post with anything like “Hahaha” or “Bwwaaaahhhaa” is a rude, unfunny duck (and, yes, I don’t really mean “duck”).

      • Or is just making a slient point. There’s a reason they left the district in the first place. There is no way with taxes that it would ever work and Snyder is happy profiting off the DC name brand and history while saving money.

        Don’t be an abrasive duck my good sir:-)

      • i’m sorry, but that is not true. everyone wants the Skins back in the District. it WILL happen.

      • yes, yes they will. especially when DCU is out of RFK. Redskins will back there in no time. 120,000 seater too.

    • RFK is beyond the point where just some repair is going to fix everything. I was in the upper deck for the USA-Germany match and in the last row there was a 20 foot split in the concrete with broken re-bar…I could see through the crack and wave to fans 2 levels down. Another time I was at a meeting at RFK (doing some work for the Nationals when they played there). In the meeting room there was water leaking down from about 10-15 spots in the ceiling. We were in the middle of a dry-spell at that point in DC–I asked and was told that it was leaking water pipes that had corroded and rusted out. There is a raccoon infestation at RFK. Every 2-3 years there is a major sink-hole that appears on the playing field (not a dip, I”m talking a sink hole). The EPA has identified a series of hazardous waste issues on stadium grounds that would prove a major barrier to a new installation there. Seriously–this issue has been thought through. One of the initial ideas was to build a new stadium in one of the parking lots to replace RFK–getting the permits for this wasn’t possible.

  16. Too many moving parts. This will fall through and DC will play at RFK till it collapses in 5 years, probably while Ben Olsen, still in charge, is yelling at a ref and a handful of remaining fans revel in the 90s.

    • But don’t worry, Benny and the front office will stand on the rumble of RFK and our club and say, “We’re really proud. We tried really hard.”

  17. I’m hopeful that this won’t fall through but I can remember several years ago when a big press conference was called to announce a tenative stadium deal in Prince George’s County so I’ll believe this when they start breaking ground.

    With the mayor being eyeballed by the Feds for potential wrongdoings who knows how much clout that Mr, Gray is going to have if he gets taken down before this deal is truly locked up.

    • No. It’s complicated. Especially the land swaps. And there is a mayoral election coming up in DC with people running against Gray. So this is far from a done deal. But the single best thing it’s got going for this is that it’s a really smart deal. It trades decaying city-held properties (which have no tex revenue) to developers who will pay taxes on the land (and develop them into better properties). It invests in infrastructure (water, sewer, power grid) into areas where it’s underdeveloped (not only making a stadium possible but also other growth in that area). And the city doesn’t pay a penny to build the stadium. It pays for infrastructure development and swaps land. It’s a case study in how developed urban areas (that don’t have big plots of attractive land that are easily available or huge revenues to build a stadium for someone for free) can make it possible for any large facility (stadium, housing, commercial development, park and youth complex, hospital, public university) can get built.

      • It requires Congressional action to dispose of U.S. owned property, including transferring it. I don’t know the details of these deals, but it sure sounds like Congress will be involved.

      • None of the land is federally owned. It’s currently owned by private stakeholders and a D.C./MD public utility.

    • As a 96’er DC fan, I feel like we’ve been so close before. Until ground is broken, I’ll hold my breath. However, we need this deal. This season fans are leaving in droves.

      The club needs a bright spot, and no matter how worse this season gets, if we officially announce a stadium, all will be forgotten.

      • I’m with you. No joy and happiness until construction begins. DC politics are so fickle, anything can happen.

      • It took several months after the handshake deal to get all the political approvals in Houston and its county. County politicans held it up because their backs had not been adequately scratched. We’d even elected a new mayor who after running against stadium expense took some credit for the new park, which she decided not to oppose because it was a “done deal” before her term.

        So I’d pop the cork on the champagne when it’s all approved.

      • No can do … unless you restrict away fan purchases. We will always be the away team when playing anyone from CONCACAF. See the recent USA vs El Salvador game in Baltimore as evidence.

      • There will never be one national stadium, but I expect this facility will host a lot of games on the East Coast. Maybe not El Salvador or Honduras, but other games. As for crowds, the team will no doubt have pre-sales to season-ticket holders and supporters like American Out, which will tamp down ticket availability to immigrants interested only in their native national team.

      • Why immigrants? Lots of US citizens cheer for other nationalities and lots of immigrants cheer for the US. Your point is completely xenophobic. Go back to watching NASCAR….see what I did there. I used the same example of over generalization to make my point.

      • Your comment is completely divorced from reality. I have been to numerous games in DC (and now Baltimore) involving El Salvador and Honduras (as well as Panama, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Cuba). There are many fans rooting for those countries — and, as was proven once again in Baltimore, they will outnumber USA fans. And, guess what? They and/or their parents are from those countries. In fact, out of hte tens of thousands of supporters for those countries, you’d have to look long and hard for ten Americans (not from one of those countries) rooting for them rather than the USA. And, vice versa.

      • To be clear, you may find Jamaican immigrants rooting for the USA when we play Honduras, or you may find them rooting for Honduras, but you won’t find them rooting for the USA over Jamaica. And you won’t find Americans without roots in the opposing country rooting for that team over the USA. You might find Americans rooting for either El Salvador or Honduras in a game between those countries (though, frankly most unaffiliated Americans will be there more for the atmosphere), but not when they’re playing the USA.

        This isn’t over-generalization. If you find an American. who has never spent time in El Salvador, or hasn’t married someone from Salvador, or isn’t descended from Salvadorans, and is rooting for El Salvador over the USA, you may have found the only one.

        And, when you see all those Salvadorans showing up at RFK or M&T stadium to root for their homeland, you will understand that I’m not over-generalizing. Is it possible there are a few immigrants from those countries rooting for the USA over their homeland? Sure, but they’re outnumbered 1,000 to 1 by the ones who are rooting for the homeland side. At those ratios, it isn’t over-generalizing

      • Uhhhh did you mingle with these people at all? Because it sounds like you are just generalizing this or took a poll….I’ve lived in Houston and Los Angeles. Probably the only 2 places who have more of a Salvadorian poulation although I think Houston is still behind the DC/Maryland/Virginia are…but not by much.

        And I can tell you… the top of my head I can think of a good 20 families I know in both cities where they root for the “Selecta” first even tho there’s 1st and even some 2nd generation US born citizens.

        With Mexico it is even worst….in Houston alone I can think of maybe 100 households like that….hell one thing I argue from some Mexico fans here in LA is the “hey being Mexican is in your blood” and of course that’s a whole other subject but I always counter it with how little they know of Mexico and how horrible their Spanish is, followed by “then how come nearly all your family lives here then?”

        And it doesn’t phase them, with Central Americans is not quite as strong but it is a similar sentiment so no having this DC Stadium as a National Stadium is BAD idea…

      • I am an immigrant myself (came here when I was 16) and I have to tell you that I hate people who are born here, but rooting for another natinal team vs. US. This is stalling the development of USMNT and US Soccer (mostly for financial reasons).

      • I don’t see the impact. In fact, if you look at the history of hte USMNT, especially the 1990 team that kick-started the growth of the team into a regional power and growing presence globally — there are many players who learned the game initially abroad, or advanced because their immigrant parent exposed them to the game and training opportunities abroad. This is only contributing tot he growth of the game here — competitively and financially.

      • Same here. I was probably born in the same country as Yevgeniy, came here when I was 20, and have been rooting for the US ever since. Not because I feel obligated, but because that’s where my heart is. People born in this country but rooting for other national teams — I don’t get it at all. The same goes for those who immigrated to the US but support their homelands — why the @#$# did you come here? Just to make some money?

      • so because El Salvador and Honduras have big populations in the area you think ANY concacaf game we play there will be an “away game”? that makes no sense.

      • No way should there ever be a national stadium here. The country is way too big. Plus we would have to be insane to give up the ability to play games in places like Seattle, KC, Columbus etc.

      • This! We’re a big country. We’ll have matches where the US will easily draw 50k who are all US supporters–and we won’t want to base them in a 25k stadium. We’ll have some where (for tactical or preparation reasons) we’ll want to play at altitude. Or in the snow. Or on the West Coast. Or b/c it’s a shorter flight for the Euro-based players. Or b/c of the long-term camp facilities (like a WC prep camp). There will be no one site that is always the perfect fit (unlike say…England…or Scotland…or Greece or Iceland).

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