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Mayor Williams Talks Soccer Stadium


(Poplar Point photo By Alexandra Garcia - washingtonpost.com)

His legacy will be as the mayor who brought baseball back to Washington, but when we caught up recently with Anthony A. Williams, we couldn't resist asking him about the ongoing debate over whether the city should spend public money to build a new soccer stadium for D.C. United at Poplar Point.

Williams -- now the chief executive of Primum Public Realty Trust, an offshoot of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey -- did not hesitate when asked his opinion.

"Washington should have a soccer stadium," he said. "Washington is three cities. It's a local city, which often gets over looked. It's a federal city, which everyone and their mother knows. But it's also an international city. Washington has the largest diplomatic delegation in the world. Soccer is a world sport. It dwarfs our football. The capital of the United States should have a soccer stadium. In every other world capital, soccer is a big deal. We should have a stadium."

Leave it to Williams to see the grand picture. He's always been better at the "vision thing" than Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). Williams also agreed with D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) that soccer would be a great attraction for the city's poorest ward, east of the Anacostia River. Overlooking that part of the city was a constant source of criticism of Williams, especially after he closed D.C. General Hospital.

As for the criticism he faced when he agreed to use $611 million in public money for the Nationals' stadium near the Navy Yard, Williams was unbowed.

"We're learning more and more as we go down that road, building stadium after stadium across the country, about how to to nestle a stadium in the midst of development," he said. "That could happen on the Poplar Point site."

By David A Nakamura  |  March 19, 2008; 5:34 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , David Nakamura  
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