Did Pr.Geo's Soccer Stadium Pitch Inspire D.C.?
Some in Prince George's have a theory about why officials in the District seem to be working with new vigor to get a soccer stadium for D.C. United: It's Vegas baby, Vegas.
During the recent International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas, developer Petrie Ross Ventures featured a model of a soccer stadium as part of a town center the company hopes to develop at the Greenbelt Metro station, according to Prince George's Deputy Chief Administrative Officer David Byrd.
D.C. United wants to leave the aged RFK Stadium in the District. And Prince George's government leaders have made no secret about wanting to lure the regional soccer team from the city.
Byrd speculated that District officials saw Petrie Ross's model for a Greenbelt stadium, and it has spurred them to try harder to keep the team in the District.
Behind the scenes, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) and several other key council members began to move forward recently with a public financing package of at least $150 million for a new stadium.
"I don't think it's a coincidence that this happened right after they got back," Byrd said. "It's a fact that they saw it."
Since the District's efforts were revealed in the media, however, Gray has backed off, leading to a delay of at least a month, according to D.C. Council sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In the meantime, Byrd said, Prince George's officials continue to emphasize "what a good product" the county could offer.
"We always knew [the District] was their preferred location," he said. "But we still feel good about where we are."
Petrie Ross is developing a mixed-use retail, office and residential center on 78 acres at the Greenbelt Metro station. Pam Rau, a spokeswoman for Petrie Ross, referred all questions about a possible soccer stadium there to D.C. United. Team representatives have declined to speak publicly about the negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Maryland Stadium Authority is conducting a study that will weigh the economic benefits of a soccer stadium in Prince George's.
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