Poplar Point Stadium

D.C. United is the most successful team in Major League Soccer history, and the team currently plays in the 56,692-seat Robert F. Kennedy Memorial (RFK) Stadium, which was built in 1961.

RFK is home to D.C. United and the Washington Nationals, and a complex conversion is necessary to move the stadium seating from the baseball to the soccer/football configuration and back again. This conversion costs $40,000 per switch, and it includes rolling the 3rd-base lower-level seats into the outfield along a buried rail, dropping the hydraulic pitcher’s mound 3 feet into the ground, and laying sod over the infield dirt.

The Washington Nationals are currently constructing a new 41,000 seat, $611 million stadium along the Anacostia River. The new stadium will include hotels and office space, and fans will be able to view the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol Building from certain upper deck seats and terraces of the stadium. Construction is scheduled to be completed by April 2008.

The Anacostia River is known as “D.C.’s forgotten river,” and it is notorious for being heavily polluted. The river is not a major tourist attraction, and there are very view development sites along its riverbanks. Anacostia is a historic neighborhood in the Southeast quadrant of Washington, located east of the Anacostia River. In the 1950s the middle class left the area, and as a result many of the area’s shopping, dining, and entertainment facilities also left. As of the 2000 Census, Anacostia’s population is 92% African-American, 5% Non-hispanic White, and 3% other. The Anacostia neighborhood is served by the Anacostia Metro station, and is a ten minute ride on Washington Metro’s Green Line from downtown Washington.

D.C. United is working with investors, the District of Columbia, and the Federal Government to build a new soccer specific stadium, Poplar Point, on the Anacostia River across from the Nationals’ stadium by 2009. United’s proposed 27,000-seat stadium is planned to be the focal point for a mixed-use development that would include a hotel as well as office and retail space along with housing initiatives and riverfront revitalization. 110 acres in Anacostia are being transferred to the City in a Federal Land swap proposal. 40 acres of the development will be used in our planned development, and the remaining 70 acres will be used as open park space for the city.

Former Washington Mayor and current Council member Marion Barry, whose Ward 8 is home to the soccer stadium site, said “There’s a commitment from the mayor and myself to assist in building not only a stadium, but $800 million to $1 billion in housing, retail and office development at Poplar Point. We’re talking about up to 2,500 units of housing” with at least 30 percent reserved for affordable housing.”

Poplar Point stadium will be used for soccer games, concerts, and other entertainment events, and the new development will also include several soccer fields that can be used for community youth soccer or the D.C. United Youth Academy.

“If you build it, they will come.”

I really like this project because the mixed-use stadium development is being used as a catalyst to rejuvenate Anacostia. Stadium planners believe that the new stadium, housing units, retail-space, and offices will attract more residents, consumers, and investors to the area, and in turn will spur future developments. I also like this project because Poplar Point’s planners are concerned with designing a pedestrian-friendly environment that is accessible by Washington’s Metro system. In the past many sports teams have constructed stadiums away from urban areas and in locations only accessible by cars. Additionally, I like the fact that the planners are providing affordable housing for area residents. Anacostia is generally a poor people, and the new developments shouldn’t drive the lower class away from their homes.

Imagine this…
-Waking up in the morning in your townhouse facing the Anacostia River
-Strolling down the street to work in your office
-Stopping by the neighborhood pub after work for a few drinks with your friends
-Walking to Poplar Point stadium to watch D.C. United play


  1. Richard

    This stadium is a great idea. It is great for DC United and it will be a driver for economic development in an area of DC that desperately needs it.

    What the idea needs now is funding!

  2. John

    Nice post. I think one of the major issues with this potential development would be to ensure environmentally friendly growth. Since the Anacostia River is already polluted, it is important to create a development that not only brings investors and growth to the area, but also takes care of the environmental needs of the Anacsotia River community.

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