The End of Poplar Point Stadium?

Earlier today the Washington Post’s David Nakamura reported that negotiations to build the Poplar Point soccer specific stadium for D.C. United in Southeast Washington have collapsed.

“Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s administration had been negotiating for months with D.C. United’s principal investor, real estate magnate Victor A. MacFarlane, over the team’s proposal to build a 27,000-seat stadium in Ward 8, just across the Anacostia River from the Washington Nationals’ new ballpark.”

“But the negotiations stalled over the financial terms. Although United offered to pay for the $150 million stadium, it asked for about $200 million in city subsidies, including roads, tax incentives and the right to develop additional land.”

“Administration officials have decided to look at other options for the site, which is part of a 110-acre piece of federal land known as Poplar Point that is scheduled to be transferred to the District in the fall. The city will seek proposals from interested developers over the next two months, the sources said, with the focus on housing and retail. A soccer stadium still could be part of the mix but is not a top priority.”

“During the negotiations, D.C. United officials suggested they would consider moving to Maryland or Virginia, possibly the Baltimore or Loudoun County areas, if the District was unable to help build a new stadium…Another option that had been discussed is construction of a soccer stadium next to RFK, which would then be torn down.”

After reading some posts on Steven Goff’s Soccer Insider blog, the complications with the Poplar Point deal were not surprising to many. The local DC government has a reputation for being difficult to deal with, and many blame city officials for the Washington Redskins’ departure to Landover, Maryland. Will it happen again for DC United? Will they move to Arlington, Crystal City, or Reston?

Many fans are upset with the failure of the stadium deal, and have vowed to forfeit their season tickets if the team moves out of DC. Certainly a move outside of the DC city limits will deter a portion of the fan base, but I’m certain team officials are looking for areas close to the city that can be accessed via the Metro. DC United has one of the best fan bases in the MLS (17,000 average attendance per game), and I’m sure the Barra Brava and company will follow the team wherever it ends up.

The other losers in the scenario, besides the fans, are the residents of Anacostia and Ward 8. DC United officials had talked about creating a mixed-use development that would include youth soccer fields, housing, commercial space, and employment opportunties. If city officials award the area to the highest bidder, then this area will probably fill up with high-priced luxury condos and penthouses.

I hope that Mayor Fenty’s administration takes another look at DC United’s proposal before officially killing the deal.

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