D.C. United: We Could Break Ground This Year in Prince George's
Update 4:42 p.m.: Here is the stadium legislative bill to be proposed next week in the Maryland general assembly.
D.C. United co-owner Victor MacFarlane pledged to Prince George's delegates and senators this morning that the team is "negotiating in good faith" as it works to move from the RFK Stadium in the district to a new stadium in county--he said he'd like to be breaking ground on a Prince George's stadium by the end of 2009.
He continued the roadshow he started yesterday, when he met with senators, with today's meeting with the full delegation. On Monday, he will hold a press conference to tout the idea. Today he came with handouts for lawmakers about "A new home in Prince George's County for America's most successful soccer team."
The General Assembly will soon begin weighing a bill that would give the Maryland Stadium Authority the ability to sell bonds to pay for stadium construction. MacFarlane has said the team would then shoulder 25 percent of the costs of the stadium. Seventy-five percent would come from new tax revenues generated at the stadium.
At today's meeting, Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George's) asked a reasonable question: What about costs for improving roads and other infrastructure around a proposed stadium? Who would pay for that?
MacFarlane explained that five of the seven sites under consideration by the team are near Metro stations and so he does not anticipate significant infrastructure costs. Still, he said, "What we have committed to is that if the county and state commit the tax revenue [generated at the stadium] we won't ask for another dollar."
Senators and delegates reacted to the idea with cautious optimism. Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's) said a stadium in Prince George's "makes a lot of sense," given the county's international population. Sen. David Harrington said it could be a "major economic boon."
Still, some lawmakers remain dubious that MacFarlane has given up entirely on staying in D.C. Though his preferred site at Poplar Point has fallen through, the team is committed to playing at RFK for two to three more seasons, meaning time has not run out for the city.
"It's not over," said Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's). "I'm not an expert in business--but I've seen poker games go on."
By Rosalind Helderman
David A Nakamura
February 13, 2009; 1:55 PM ET
Categories: D.C. United , Economic Development , Soccer Stadium
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