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Posted at 1:25 PM ET, 12/23/2010

D.C. United to Baltimore = revenue

By Jonathan O'Connell

D.C. United

Relocating the D.C. United soccer team to the Baltimore area would create between 780 and 940 jobs and up to $6.4 million in annual state and local tax revenues, according to a study issued Dec. 22 by the Maryland Stadium Authority and a Florida consulting firm.

D.C. United, which currently plays its home games at RFK Stadium, has been looking for a new building to call home for years. After the team failed to secure stadium agreements with officials in D.C. and Prince George's County, Baltimore officials last year asked for a study of the potential economic impact that building a new stadium for the team would have on the area.

Researchers from Crossroads Consulting Services of Tampa considered the possibility of building a 25,000-seat stadium for D.C. United as part of a $1.1 billion mixed-use waterfront development planned for Westport, south of Baltimore. They said a stadium on that site would create up to $30.3 million in direct spending and $78.5 million in indirect spending annually, leading to jobs and tax revenue for the area.

Those projections, however, would require a bump in attendance for the team over its 2010 season. Although D.C. United is considered one of the most successful teams in Major League Soccer, it had a losing 2010 season and averaged just 14,532 fans, 13 percent less than the league average, according to the report.

In a new Westport stadium, however, the researchers estimated that the team would draw between 18,500 and 20,000 fans each game and that the stadium would host between 49 to 54 events per year, 17 of which would be D.C. United regular season games. Researchers also considered the impact of building a smaller stadium for the minor league soccer team Crystal Palace Baltimore. Crystal Palace Baltimore, which is in financial distress, will not field a team in 2011 and is hoping to reorganize for 2012

Kevin Payne, the team's president and chief executive, issued a statement saying the team appreciated the interest from Baltimore and would "continue our conversations as we work toward the best possible long-term home for D.C. United."

The study can be found here.

By Jonathan O'Connell  | December 23, 2010; 1:25 PM ET
Categories:  DC, Maryland  
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Baltimore United. BU. Booooooooooo.

Posted by: Greent | December 23, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

All well and good, but I don't see where anyone is putting up the up front money to build. I think it's a given that a stadium anywhere would generate money and jobs, but someone still has to put up the cash to build, and then the zoning people have to approve; that's the heavy lift, and always has been.

Does the study address that?

Posted by: JkR- | December 23, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Why cant they build a new stadium for the Redskins at the RFK site and have DC United just share it? The Seahawks share with their MLS team.

Posted by: MrWillie | December 23, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

@MrWillie: a number of reasons.
1. DC United makes no money from RFK, which is controlled by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission. The same would probably be true for a new stadium on the RFK site,
2. The grass would be destroyed with the number of games (Seattle plays on plastic fibers)
3. Gridiron lines look awful for soccer.
4. A smaller stadium for soccer encourages advance ticket sales rather than waiting for the day of the game, looking at the weather, and buying a walk-up ticket if it's a nice day.
5. Scheduling would be a problem for DCU. It's a given that the football team would be the primary and preferred tenant.

Didn't the Crossroads firm also do the projections for the Prince George's site?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 23, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

It's extremely unlikely that the Redskins would be able to move back to DC in the next 10 years.

Within those 10 years, RFK will likely crumble to the ground, and without a new home in the district, DC United will leave. With no tenant on the site, the stadium and it's outlying lots, would revert to the control of the federal government.

However, were the City to partner with United on a 25-30k seat stadium in the next year or 2, somewhere on the RFK site (i.e. one of the parking lots), the property would remain in control of the District, and available for Danny-Boy to come to town in 10 years and build his Billion-dollar death-star errr dome.

Hopefully this will get done soon in DC. Baltimore United just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Posted by: alecw81 | December 23, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

How about some combination of Baltimore/DC United as the name? The cities are close enough to share a soccer team. Different markets = yes, but if Baltimore is where the stadium is feasible then so be it.

Posted by: drdelaware | December 23, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

"49 to 54 events per year"

One event per week? Seriously? How many events does Crew Field or BMO Field host per year?

Posted by: Juan-John | December 24, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

49 - 54 events a year, I agree, is a bit ambitious, but it does include WPS games, high school football, M and W soccer, and lacrosse, M and W college soccer and lacrosse, M and W CONCACAF qualifiers and friendlies, concerts, high school graduations, religious events (Glen Beck, Promise Keepers, etc.), so it might add up.

The key is DCU. That would be the anchor tenant that keeps the building fired up year-round. What happens now is that it is up to the developer, working with KP, to see if the vision that KP and Will have (a mixed-use "Emerald City"), a somewhat scaled-down plan from what they wanted on Poplar point because of the smaller footprint, can be built. If a plan can be created that results in a "offer (KP/Will) can't refuse," then it's going to happen. The study supports the argument that the economics are right for it, and until or unless something emerges in the DC-area that obviates relocation, what will happen is what alecw81 says: RFK will crumble (actually, will continue to crumble) and DCU will have no choice but to relocate out of the DC area.

The attandence gap won't occur for at least the first two years, as the novelty of the new stadium will drive attendance up to capacity levels, enabling DCU to withstand more dodgy management by Kasper (assuming he's not driving a taxi in Pittsburgh by then). However, unless the team improves on the field at least by that time, an attendence gap could be a problem.

Baltimore United. Unleash the Balmer, hon.

Posted by: lgm6986 | December 24, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The team can simply be called FC United. Most of the fans' songs won't even have to change and only one letter will be replaced in the logo. The more important issue is whether the DC area fans will continue attending after the novelty has worn off. It is not a scenario that this U street fan wants to see but I'd rather have DCU play at a new SSS in Baltimore than move out of the area entirely.

Posted by: sofiaboy | December 29, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I think "Baltimore City Football Club" has a nice ring to it . . . god I hope they stay in DC, though

Posted by: MJH4DCU | December 29, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

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