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Soccer Stadium Update: Calling United's Bluff

Mayor Adrian Fenty very much wants to keep the D.C. United soccer franchise in the District, but he does not consider a soccer stadium nearly as powerful an engine of economic development as the Washington Nationals' new ballpark on the Southeast waterfront. And the mayor seems unfazed by the mating dance between United's owners and Maryland politicians about moving the team to Prince George's County.

"I don't think they really want to go to Maryland," Fenty tells me.

The mayor says he is committed to examining proposals for a stadium at Poplar Point, across the Anacostia River from Nationals Park. "But it has to be something fair," he says.

Does that mean a very significant team contribution to the building costs? "Yes," the mayor says.

Fenty, who was an early and vocal opponent of the city paying to build the Nationals' stadium, is now a big booster of Nationals Park and the residential, retail and entertainment district that is expected to develop around it. He sees two important differences between the baseball and soccer situations: Baseball more easily lends itself to ancillary development because its season has 81 home games, whereas the soccer team plays only 16 games at RFK Stadium.

And Fenty is not persuaded that the Poplar Point development needs a stadium to succeed: "We have three excellent plans to develop Poplar Point by nationally recognized developers who are ready and willing to make a great development without a soccer stadium," the mayor says.

Still, he adds, he feels "a huge impetus to do something to keep the team here. They are clearly a valuable private enterprise contributor to the city."

Politically, Fenty is in a bind. Some of his supporters fondly remember his opposition to the baseball stadium, while others have happily embraced his late conversion to the cause of the Nats' park.

If he were to take a strong position against the soccer stadium, Fenty would run the risk of being blamed for the loss of United to Maryland. And he would be in for a blast of icy wind from Council member Marion Barry, whose Ward 8 includes the Poplar Point site and who has come out strongly for the stadium development.

But if the mayor made a strong pitch for the soccer stadium, he would incur the wrath of some of his most devoted and important supporters, the environmental community, which has lined up strongly against the stadium and in support of keeping as much of Poplar Point as possible as unspoiled parkland.

So Fenty is holding back, waiting to see how engaged the D.C. council and other factions in the city become on the issue.

Most likely scenario: Delay. The worsening economic situation makes it ever harder to justify pumping big money into a stadium that would not significantly expand the tax base. Since Maryland's not likely to be eager to put up big bucks right now either, the wait and see move is probably Fenty's friend. But this is one that can't be put off indefinitely: The city will want to do something big with the RFK Stadium site in the next few years, and that would leave United homeless.

Fenty assures me that he has no intention of using the possible demolition of RFK as a threat against D.C. United. That, he says, is not how he wants the District to do business.

Is there a deus ex machina in this play? Some on the mayor's staff still say it's possible to find United another site in the city. The District is not exactly chockablock with wide open spaces available for sports facilities. The thin roster of possibilities when Major League Baseball was scouting for locations proved that out. But a soccer stadium's footprint could be smaller. Ideas, anyone?

By Marc Fisher |  March 5, 2008; 8:03 AM ET
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Would it be detrimental to give the new Forrest City development a look? United seems intent on building some place in a "re-developing" community (Popular Point in DC, Greenbelt/New Carrolton in MD). Forrest City's plans aren't set in stone and it gives the realestate mogul who owns United something to do.

Posted by: James | March 5, 2008 8:47 AM

I vote for a move to Arlington, not Maryland. One of the sites proposed early on for Nationals Park was in Pentagon City. I recall it being the block on Army-Navy that is vacant, save for a Residence Inn. A move to Arlington would make this casual United fan very happy.

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | March 5, 2008 8:56 AM

DC United currently has 16 games on its RFK schedule. But the SuperLiga games have yet to be announced, and there may be more CONCACAF Champions Cup games (provided United advances), and there's the yet to be announced schedule for the CONCACAF Champions League in the fall/late summer.....oh and the US Open Cup home games are also a possibility, and up to 3 playoff games. So look to add another 10 games, at least to that schedule.

Also remember that United has ALWAYS said that they were willing to pay for the majority of the actual stadium, and that the original deal got scuttled with the excuse of that United wanted the city to pay anywhere between $100-$300 million for infrastructure support. But Fenty conveniently neglects to mention that, it's like the old Poplar Point discussions never happened and he's got this fresh new deal to offer United. I believe the Mayor's code name for this project is: Project Shaft.

Posted by: Kim | March 5, 2008 8:59 AM

Marc - I realize that you hate soccer and are willfully ignorant regarding the sport, but DCU plays many more than 16 games at home. That number is just the MLS regular season competition.

This year, DCU will be participating in several other competitions. Last year there were over 20 games at RFK and there could be 25-30 games there this year when you factor in exhibitions and other competitions. I realize that this is not 81 games like for baseball, but the size of the investment the city would have to make is not the same size either.

But, you know, use whatever number you like to make your point without doing your homework.

Posted by: tmc | March 5, 2008 9:06 AM

A less popular sport played fewer times a year in a lower-capacity stadium results in less impetus for the city to provide funding. And rightly so.

Posted by: Lindemann | March 5, 2008 9:15 AM

This may be un-PC of me, but it's also a valid thought. They want to put the soccer stadium in probably the blackest neighborhood in DC (Anacostia). Black people are not generally soccer fans. Doesn't make a lot of sense in that respect.

"tmc" makes a good point about the non-MLS games United play, although the attendance isn't usually nearly the same for many of those non-MLS events as it is for the MLS games. Part of this is a lack of media attention such that only the hard-core fans tend to know about them, but it's not the media's responsibility to promote the team.

Posted by: Rich | March 5, 2008 9:15 AM

tmc is correct; United participates in several other competitions and tournaments aside from the MLS schedule. It's unlike any of the area's five other pro sports franchises (Nationals, Wizards, Mystics, Capitals, Redskins).

In addition, a soccer stadium would likely be used for collegiate matches such as an in-season tournament or the NCAA finals. The University of Maryland has a significant soccer fan base, and the U. of Virginia has also won NCAA titles in the past.

I'm not that avid a soccer fan myself, but realize there is a large contingent of people in the metro area who follow the sport -- and I believe a stadium could benefit the entire metro soccer community, not merely United.

Posted by: Vincent | March 5, 2008 9:20 AM

I think Marc Fisher's neighborhood would be an excellent location for a soccer stadium, wherever he lives. Tear down his home and build the box office on top of it.

Posted by: Calling Marc Fisher's Bluff | March 5, 2008 9:20 AM

Actually Rich the non-mls games can be some of the highest drawing games. Last year the game with Chivas Guadalajara in Copa Sudamericana drew about 27,000 fans - which would be at or near the planned capacity for the stadium.

Plus, this would be a venue the league would use for all-start games and MLS Cup finals from time to time, and the National team would play there too (Mens and Womens). Also many top-name and high-drawing European teams tend to go on summer exhibition tours of the USA. Not to mention concerts and other events (I'd imagine concert promoters would love a venue in the city that is metro accessible to compete with outdoor venues like Merriweather and Nissan).

I realize that there are always going to be the detractors. I just want to point out that it is disingenuous at best to throw the number 16 out there.

Posted by: tmc | March 5, 2008 9:24 AM

Build it in SW, having it atop of the SE/SW freeway between 9th and 6th Streets.

Posted by: Andrew | March 5, 2008 9:25 AM

Marc - you missed a couple of important details. First, Marion Barry sits on the Council committee that ultimately has the right to approve any transfer of city-owned land to a private developer. Therefore, any land tranfer to a private entity involving Poplar Point likely has to receive the former mayor's approval... a lot more than a "chilly wind." Second, all soccer-specific-stadiums are more comparable to basektball/hockey arenas like Verizon Center. They are typically available 210-days a year (weather permitting) for events involving concerts as well as soccer games. Add in the games for the proposed professional women's soccer team as well as US National Soccer Team games and the event schedule for a soccer-specific-stadium is a crowded fixture compared to that of a baseball stadium that serves only baseball and the occasional once-in-a-decade papal visit.

Although you don't claim to be a journalist, please do a little research on the topic so that you can at least critically evaluate things in an informed manner.

Posted by: Mickey | March 5, 2008 9:30 AM

Some good locations I think are available. What is the deal with that big vacant piece of land in by John H. on the other side of the lake. That could be a Stadium plus new taxbase friendly property.

I still like the idea of poplar point if it can be done. Option three I think would be to make a deal with one of the colleges in the area to re-develop their football team fields to be soccer friendly. George Town's still not started construction on their field

Posted by: 35332 | March 5, 2008 9:35 AM

Bluff, I second your location. Instead of DCU being homeless while marc is comfortable in his bungalow (not doing any research, I might add), we can switch it up. And DCU would be a lot more accomodating to marc than he is to them. I am sure they can find a home for him in their new stadium, maybe that empty corner stall in the men's room? Oh, who am i kidding; women's room.

Posted by: DudeAbides | March 5, 2008 9:42 AM

Also, a soccer stadium would be perfect for an Ultimate Frisbee team if that ever became a pro sport or if DC wanted to do a local tourney like other cities have done, also available for concerts. That could make it even more used.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 9:55 AM

Marc,

Why are you so afraid of soccer? Do you think its the reason baseball TV rating are going down the tubes? Do you need to kick it down to make yourself feel better about a DC funded Baseball stadium?

Soccer may play a fraction of the home games as baseball but they are also asking the city for an even smaller fraction of public funding.

United will fill a 20,000 seat stadium for decades to come. United and the Wizards both do more for the kids in DC in a month than the Nats have done since they arrived in DC.

What's your problem?

Posted by: Southeasterner | March 5, 2008 10:02 AM

A point that is conveniently forgotten by Marc Fisher is that DC United originally offered to build the stadium itself while as part of the master development of Poplar point. The Fenty administration cited high infrastructure costs as the reason for dismissing United's proposal, but the city will have to build the infrastructure for whatever development is chosen (and those costs will be about the same according to earlier articles in the Post). Now that a different master developer has been chosen by the city there is less economic incentive for United to pay the whole stadium cost itself and they are wisely exploring options in Maryland. I hope they stay in DC. I would think that Fenty would like me and others like me to keep spending money in the district and not Maryland. I am a Virginia resident (for the last 18 yrs) and have never set foot in Anacostia. This stadium will give me a reason to go there and spend my money there.

Also, in response to the enviromental concerns, I don't see how not building the stadium will help the environment, because I believe that apart from a specific set-aside for parkland, that land will be developed, stadium or not.

Posted by: dcfr | March 5, 2008 10:13 AM

""whereas the soccer team plays only 16 games at RFK Stadium""

Your ignorance is readily apparent. It's not your fault as your paper's sports section is littered with baseball news by old, stodgy editors of yesteryear.

Remember last season when DC United had to play Real Madrid in Seattle (with 60,000 plus in attendance)? That's because baseball was sharing RFK.

But, Marc, just to shed light in your tunnel, that type of game is called a "friendly" by futbol fans. There are also "cups" that United will compete for against Central American, Mexican and South American teams. They are called the CONCACAF Champions Cup, Sudamericana, and Superliga. These games (upwards of 10) will be attended by close to 30,000 fans.

Posted by: delantero | March 5, 2008 10:15 AM

"But if the mayor made a strong pitch for the soccer stadium, he would incur the wrath of some of his most devoted and important supporters, the environmental community, which has lined up strongly against the stadium and in support of keeping as much of Poplar Point as possible as unspoiled parkland."

that's a nice-sounding argument, but the 3 plans have optional soccer stadiums, and the non-stadium options are other forms of residential and commerical development, not parkland.

the land swap deal mandated a certain amount of parkland to be included, so that has to be met. but the point of the swap to begin with was for the federal government to give land to DC to increase it's tax base (since there's exponentially more fed land that doesn't get taxed), so it makes zero sense to replace revenue generating things like a stadium (or another best buy or whatever they put there) with another park.

Posted by: pat | March 5, 2008 10:16 AM

"But if the mayor made a strong pitch for the soccer stadium, he would incur the wrath of some of his most devoted and important supporters, the environmental community, which has lined up strongly against the stadium and in support of keeping as much of Poplar Point as possible as unspoiled parkland."

What? This arguement doesn't even make sense. With or without the stadium the land is going to be developed.

I'm a senior member of the Green party and I don't know when we lined up against the stadium?

You are making things up.

Posted by: Environmentalist | March 5, 2008 10:21 AM

Damn, Fish, you're getting your butt kicked in here. Like almost every poster has revealed you for the chump you are. Stick to libraries and traffic lights and stuff.

Posted by: Fish Flayed and Fried | March 5, 2008 10:25 AM

""But a soccer stadium's footprint could be smaller. Ideas, anyone?""

Sure. I can tell you from watching football games in London, that these stadiums have a very small profile, are often located in the middle of neighborhoods, and are often hardly visible from just a block away. The only way I knew I was even near a stadium was because of the supporters walking towards it! Otherwise, I would have only seen a beautiful "row housed" London neighborhood. The stadium (Queen Park Rangers) was tucked neatly inside.

http://www.stadiumguide.com/london.htm

Posted by: delantero | March 5, 2008 10:26 AM

I am also a big fan of the Environmentalism stuff, I even applaud the new Baseball stadium for trying to go green. Though they could use some solar panels and stuff. I am willing to bet a new soccer stadium would go green too.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 10:27 AM

Was United really "bluffing" when they originally offered to pay for building the ENTIRE STADIUM?

Posted by: Myopia Rules! | March 5, 2008 10:30 AM

I think ICE should post agents at gates of the new soccer stadium and have folks verify they are in the US legally. No breaks if you are Anglo and WP columunist. Everyone must prove their status. I can prove mine Marc acna you prove yours.

And what DCU needs is UK style socccer hooligans. Just the thing for making the games more attractive

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2008 10:33 AM

""Black people are not generally soccer fans.""

Come to a United match and you will see a more diverse crowd than at any Skins, Caps, Wizards or Nationals game.

Posted by: rainbow | March 5, 2008 10:34 AM

Rich, re. "blacks don't like soccer" -- I know where you're coming from, but the United games I've gone to have way more diverse crowds than the one Nationals game I've attended. I was surprised.

I brought this same point up with David Broder after he commented what a big range of people went to Nats games, but apparently he meant Dems and Republicans, or maybe WASPS and other kinds of white people. In any case the schmuck didn't write back to tell me how right I was.

Posted by: gringo | March 5, 2008 10:39 AM

Ehh, the diversity is probably about the same as the 'Skins and the Wiz, a bit mroe so than the 'nats, and alot more so than the 'Caps.

Yo, people, chill. This is a status update, not a condemnation. Other than being a bit off on the number of games, Marc right about the other stuff with the way things are right now. With all soccer games included, there would probably be 25 dates a year at a new DCU stadium, so that's over twice what FedEx gets at least.

Don't know abotu concerts. Jimmy Buffet is doign a run through a bunch of MLS parks this summer, but the extra expense of having to build a stage could make concerts there a hard sell. Not that it couldn't happen, but it would take more work. I don't see LiveNation moving much from Nissan since they own that, and IMP seems pretty happy with Merriweather most of the time.

Whit that said, there's a cleared site at tge Greenbelt metro station with plenty of parking available, so that's a serious option shoudl McFarlane want to go that way.

Posted by: EricS | March 5, 2008 10:51 AM

This is just Marc getting his hit totals up for his blog. He knows if he mentions DCU and stadium we will get all worked up and comment, then he can go back to WashPost mgt. and tell them he is valuable.

The team was always going to pay for the stadium, only difference now is the city will be paying more for infrastructure because the project will be bigger.

Posted by: Rocko | March 5, 2008 10:51 AM

Unlike Steve Goff, Fisher won't come back here and debate his misinformed points.

Posted by: YouGuysAreWastingYourTime | March 5, 2008 10:54 AM

McMillan Reservoir.

Or, better still, some sort of joint development with Howard of their small athletic stadium.

There's another parcel on the west side of Howard along Sherman Avenue. Very metro accessible, and used as a parking lot.

Posted by: EMRJ | March 5, 2008 10:55 AM

Also, the stadium will be used by the Washington Freedom that plans to start-up again and another possibility is the Washington Bayhawks of the National Lacrosse League.

Posted by: nats_fan | March 5, 2008 11:00 AM

EMRJ and I are on the same page, Look at the area by the resivouir in google maps and tell me that a stadium would not fit there?

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 11:03 AM

Fisher this has to be the worst article you have ever written.

16 Home games is bogus try adding another 10 games to that along with at least
5 international games (5 is low end)

that can add up to double what you have on your article, so PLEASE DO BETTER RESEARCH.

Yes Baseball will have 81 games a year, but PLEASE tell me how much the CITY put into that stadium. United is going to at least contribute to this plan.

Comparing the 2 is like comparing an apple with a banana (far worse that apples and oranges they are at least both round)

Internationally almost everyone knows Washington DC. but how many know Poplar point? In fact how many VA or MD people know or have visited that area (not just drive by)

So the next time you have a great idea for an article, please spare us the headache of having to edit it. HIRE An Editor or do better research.

Posted by: dc FAN | March 5, 2008 11:05 AM

""Ehh, the diversity is probably about the same as the 'Skins and the Wiz,""

Uh, probably not. Unless you have DC/MD/VA residents, Bosnian's, Bolivian's, Jamaican's, Ghanaians, Redneck's, soccer mom's and daughters, and on and on in those crowds

Posted by: maybe | March 5, 2008 11:09 AM

The soccer nuts come out of the woodwork.

Posted by: Jamie F | March 5, 2008 11:11 AM

------
But a soccer stadium's footprint could be smaller. Ideas, anyone?
------

Build it in Poplar Point as part of the Clark development, and watch that side of the Anacostia experience more growth and use (and improvement) relative to what even that over-priced MLB stadium can achieve on the opposite bank of the river.

Baseball's not a bad sport, but in 10 years time, I'm guessing the "investment" is a stadiuim for United (hopefully the one that DC will actually take) will look much wiser than the "investment" the city made in the National's new venue.

If DC wants to keep United in DC, Poplar Point seems like the ideal spot. The soccer club has been doing the background planning and hard work in Ward 8 for several years now (even before MLB was considering DC).

Any other potential "spot" in DC for a new venue for United likely would have more "cost" to the city and an extended timeline for United (by that point they could very well be in MD).

Looking forward to seeing Mr. Fisher out at RFK this season.

Posted by: We'll miss RFK | March 5, 2008 11:13 AM

I didn't really have much of an opinion either way on a soccer stadium in Anacostia (though to see that phrase looks funny), but to hear the ranting on the superiority of the United over every other local franchise, I have a headache! Give them a vacant lot with some bleachers around it to shut them up!

Posted by: Jamie F | March 5, 2008 11:13 AM

Yo, Fish! You gonna defend what you wrote or is it so wrong that you just went over to The Trolly and started drinking?

Posted by: Keep Boozin' | March 5, 2008 11:14 AM

you sir are an idiot!

get your facts straight, please!

Posted by: im not an idiot | March 5, 2008 11:19 AM

I didn't really have much of an opinion either way on a soccer stadium in Anacostia (though to see that phrase looks funny), but to hear the ranting on the superiority of the United over every other local franchise, I have a headache! Give them a vacant lot with some bleachers around it to shut them up!

Posted by: Jamie F | March 5, 2008 11:13 AM

Oh, that's so funny. Do you take the short bus to work? So, why is a soccer stadium in Anacostia funny? Have you seen the teams that represent US soccer at the international level from senior men (21 and older) through the various under ranks (U-21, U-19, U-17, U-15, U-13, U-11)? They're heavily African Americans. Look at the diversity of the DC United squad and its fans. This whole soccer=white thing is just boring.

Posted by: Blam! | March 5, 2008 11:20 AM

i would bet a year long wager that if you put a stadium over in poplar point, it will have mroe sell out matches then the nats will this year.

lets see, right now only game sold out, uh.......opening day...

2nd game I CAN STILL GET TICKETS! now thats just SAD!

Posted by: dc dude | March 5, 2008 11:21 AM

Now some are being too harsh on Mr. Fisher. I'll list the facts that are right in this post:

Mayor Adrian Fenty
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Well, at least Mr. Fisher started the post well...


Posted by: Kim | March 5, 2008 11:22 AM

baseballs 81 game tickets rum from $5 DCU CHEAPEST IS 22 ATLEAR 20000 $5 TICKETS ARE SOLD=100,000 FOR THE NATS ANDO 10000 ARE SOLD FOR DCU =220,000 AND THEN ANOTHER 15000 SOLD ATA A HIGHER PRICE EQUALING AT LEAST 500K IN TICKET REVENUE TO THE NATS 750K I DONT SEE A HUGE DIFERENCE THERE

Posted by: 135 | March 5, 2008 11:26 AM

What a waste of cyber-space. If all is takes is unchecked facts, a predetermined attitude, and a lack of spine or knowledge to back up what you say to have a blog, I may start one. Oh wait a minute, I have integrity.....nevermind. Present the whole story or none of it. Not just the small tidbits that support your narrow minded ideas.

Posted by: boda united | March 5, 2008 11:28 AM

Another consideration is the touring schedules of the Big European Clubs. DC United went to Seattle to play Real Madrid, think of the international fans who travel to support these clubs, why not allow these supporters to vacation in DC. I lived in Seattle when the US hosted the world cup. Local officials turned down the event. They didn't think they could sell enough tickets. They didn't realized that only a portion of tickets were even allocated to North America. DC should not be so short sighted. This facility has the potential to bring people into the area. The nationals facility will at best get an allstar game.

Posted by: pc | March 5, 2008 11:32 AM

This shouldn't be a conversation of baseball vs soccer (or the inability to un Caps Lock a keyboard.)

This is about DC United, it's stadium, and Marc Fisher's echoing Mayor Fenty's statements apparently because Fisher couldn't score Nats opening day tickets and he's hoping to schmooze his way into one of the District's luxury suites.

Posted by: Kim | March 5, 2008 11:32 AM

How much would it cost the city if it wanted to help United build a stadium at some site other than Poplar Point?

And when could such a project be planned and completed?

If the city hasn't offered other suggestions, what have they been waiting for?

Hasn't Fenty already stated his intentions to work to keep United in DC? Are there other parcels of land (in DC) that could meet the team's needs? I don't know, but I tend to doubt it.

Would it (or would it not) be an economically wise move to include a soccer stadium in the Poplar Point development, relative to the investment/new-planning that would have to be done at some other site in the future?

Posted by: Time and Money | March 5, 2008 11:34 AM

-------
in 10 years time, I'm guessing the "investment" is a stadiuim for United (hopefully the one that DC will actually take) will look much wiser than the "investment" the city made in the National's new venue.
-------

Have to agree with this statement.

Posted by: Funds in and out | March 5, 2008 11:36 AM

------
"I don't think they really want to go to Maryland," Fenty tells me.
------

Of course they don't.

United are DC.

The team is more committed to DC and its residents than many of the "pro" teams in the area.

I would be decent of the city to show some commitment to United, to reciprocate some of that love that United shows to the city.

Posted by: Fair Play | March 5, 2008 11:39 AM

It would be decent of the city to show some commitment to United, to reciprocate some of that love that United shows to the city.

Posted by: correction | March 5, 2008 11:40 AM

If they left the city would they be the VA United or the MD United?

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 11:44 AM

I was at the DC United vs Real Madrid game at Qwest Field in Seattle last year--just happened to be out there on business and thought I'd cheer on United. Incredible! Almost 67,000 for a true exhibition match, including a team (DC United) that the Seattle fans wouldn't normally have a rooting interest in. And Real Madrid had just started their close season training, and were obviously rusty. Wonderful event--great turn out by the Seattle area fans for a meaningless friendly.

DC United is a true representative of the city, and does us proud on the national and international sport stages. Plus, with all the National team games, possibly college team games, women's league, maybe outdoor lacrosse, concerts, etc. you would have almost as many events as for the Nationals. Build it. It makes sense to do so.

Posted by: California, MD | March 5, 2008 11:49 AM

Rich is right, black people don't like soccer (outside of africans, central americans, columbians, ecuadorians, peruvians, uruguayans, jamaicans, brazilians, and the 6 african american players who started in the last U.S. mens national team game.)

Posted by: d, dc | March 5, 2008 11:55 AM

The other side of this, of course, is that baseball is a MUCH richer sport. Everyone went out of their way to bring baseball to DC, but it was United that built a consistent and loyal fan base over time, has brought multiple championships to DC, helped show that DC could be a legitimate home for soccer in the US.

But it doesn't have the financial stability of baseball. If there was ever a sound investment in sports in this town, a soccer stadium would be it. A dedicated fan base, ability to bring in international talent (in a diverse town)...it just makes sense, whereas pouring hundreds of millions into football and baseball stadiums so that another billionaire can hold the city ransom doesn't.

Posted by: KT | March 5, 2008 11:59 AM

But lots of rich white men like baseball

(George W Bush through the MLB owners that smashed the horrible stadium deal down the district's throat)

""Rich is right, black people don't like soccer (outside of africans, central americans, columbians, ecuadorians, peruvians, uruguayans, jamaicans, brazilians, and the 6 african american players who started in the last U.S. mens national team game.)""

Posted by: GRINGO IRLENDESO | March 5, 2008 12:05 PM

You say the city will be looking to do something with the RFK site in the next few years. The city doesn't really have any say over what happens at the RFK site. It's federal property. The feds let them use it for RFK, but that's about it.

Posted by: woody2471 | March 5, 2008 12:05 PM

DC United to Orlando, Florida they would be
UNITED of Orlando

Posted by: OrlandoGator | March 5, 2008 12:06 PM

""The team is more committed to DC and its residents than many of the "pro" teams in the area.""

I would like to add that the fans are even waving DC FLAGS at the games. And HUGE ONES AT THAT!

Sorry for the caps lock.

Posted by: estadio crecelo y vendran | March 5, 2008 12:07 PM

I strenuously disagree that the soccer complex would not promote urban development or renewal in the surrouding area and the number of games is not the only indicator of urban impacts. Look at the stadium complex and affiliated growth in Chicago! Reporters should do research BEFORE reporting. Did Marc do any analysis or study about urban growth around other comparable soccer complexes? Shame on you.

Posted by: SK Fairfax | March 5, 2008 12:09 PM

Fact: United's original offer had the owners paying for the ENTIRE stadium, with requests that the city fund the infrastructure for Poplar Point - there aren't even sewers so we're talking big bucks, like $300 million.

Fact: 9 days before the election, candidate Fenty appeared before 22,000 fans at RFK and pledged his support to build a soccer stadium at RFK.

Fact: Fenty walked away from the table saying that he wanted the best use possible for the site, which may or may not include a stadium. He said the $300 million bill for development was too high

Fact: The bids reviewed and accepted all require about this amount of public funding as United's original proposal, but now the Mayor is posturing to say that some public funds may be necessary for the stadium. He knows this is not popular. The Post published reports at the time of the baseball stadium debate and now showing public is about 70% against the use of public funds for either stadium.

Fact: Fenty's move led to United requesting bids from other municipalities, though they've always stated their first preference is to stay in DC.

Fact: Fisher, who likes to think he covers the goings on of the city, is so blinded by his well established bias against soccer that he refuses to call out the mayor on his about face.

Fact: Journalists are losing their hold as information brokers. Bloggers see the facts and call reporters on mistakes they make. See "Dan Rather."

Fact: Fisher has not had the spine to respond to any of these comments.

Result: WaPo circulation is dropping to record lows. Ad revenue is dropping too. The medium is dying.

Let's just watch the death happen slowly before our eyes. Then when the out of work dinosaurs wonder what happened, we need only to point to donkey's like Fisher.

Posted by: Not Marc Fisher | March 5, 2008 12:12 PM

[stands and applauds Not Marc Fisher]

Bravo!

Posted by: DirtyHarry | March 5, 2008 12:20 PM

The City is wrong to consider United's discussions with Maryland a bluff. United may want to stay in the city, but it's not like they don't have any other options. Giving the team no other option but to choose Maryland over the District is simply Fenty's way of handling the situation.

Indecision is not a virtue, and I think Fenty is in over his head.

Posted by: TCompton | March 5, 2008 12:29 PM

I think the main premise is that Fenty things DC United is bluffing about moving and Fisher seems to be supporting that position. I do not think United is bluffing about moving to Maryland and I think a wait and see position by Fenty could mean the team is no longer in DC. DC United is a business, and it is losing a lot of money that it could be making with a better stadium deal. The MLS teams with stadiums are all headed towards profitability. The Maryland options are still metro accessible and so if they could be done quicker, with more favorable deals for the owners I think it will happen. And yes, if that happens, I think Fenty will be blamed for DC United leaving. They already proposed to pay for everything minus infrastructure, and Fenty chose to go another direction. And United ownership continues to express willingness to fund a large portion of the stadium even under the new development plans.

I think the sub-premise of this article is that Fenty (with Fisher again in agreement) does not think a Soccer Stadium is as important for Poplar Point, nor will it have the same impact as the baseball stadium. I think those arguments are flawed because the Poplar Point development needs an attraction that will motivate people to cross the river. Right now Anacostia has a bad rap. People are not going to venture over just for a bigger park, or some extra retail stores. I think Marion Barry recognizes that a stadium will bring lots of folks with money, who will find Anacostia is not so scary after all, and they will tell their friends it's a good place to shop and play and live. Also, I think a lot of previous posters have argued well for why a soccer stadium will remain just as busy as the baseball stadium throughout the year. The owners will be losing money for every minute the stadium isn't in use, so they are going to fill it as many days as possible.

I think that the stadium is the best option for the development, will be good for the city, and that in order to make it happen, Fenty should stop stalling.

Posted by: Sean G | March 5, 2008 12:31 PM

Not Marc Fisher: The best post, full of facts, on a really long thread. Well Done!

Posted by: GoldenChild | March 5, 2008 12:40 PM

Hate to get involved here but...

"Rich is right, black people don't like soccer (outside of africans, central americans, columbians, ecuadorians, peruvians, uruguayans, jamaicans, brazilians, and the 6 african american players who started in the last U.S. mens national team game.)"

Not to mention the Ward 8 African-American leaders who are EXTREMELY pro soccer stadium. They want the stadium to be an anchor for the Poplar Point development, giving residents of other wards and counties a true reason to come to Anacostia. Otherwise, they fear that Poplar Point (nice or not) could eventually become a white elephant, isolated from outside money.

"Baseball more easily lends itself to ancillary development because its season has 81 home games, whereas the soccer team plays only 16 games at RFK Stadium."

I don't know where to start on this asinine statement. First of all, the soccer stadium would be located in the center of the development from the start. Unlike the baseball stadium, where we'll be waiting for the development for another couple years. Sure it looks like it will come to the Half Street area eventually, but let's not kid ourselves into thinking that either Half Street or Anacostia will turn into Gallery Place anyway. The ancillary Verizon Center development was a product of a great time for the economy, boom in DC real estate and amazing location in the center of the city. It's incredible to think that areas between Metro Center and Judiciary Square were once barren in this city - not that its booming now.

Poplar Point is not about ancillary development - it's about ANY development. And city funds are needed to put anything on the land, which has zero infrastructure at present. Fenty is the one who shifted this from an infrastructure issue to one of funding a professional sports stadium. And I thought that Hillary Clinton was an expert goalpost shifter!

Posted by: Kev | March 5, 2008 12:47 PM

Arlington would be just as good a location for a stadium, if not better than Ward 8 in D.C.

Any area's in Montgomery County, MD? Rockville, Bethesda areas long the Metro Red Line?

Posted by: Joe L. | March 5, 2008 12:48 PM

-----
But a soccer stadium's footprint could be smaller. Ideas, anyone?
-----

United's ideas seem to be in MD (should their involvement at Poplar Point not materialize).

other "ideas" in DC seem far too late (and/or limited) from the Fenty admin.

If United can't build a stadium at Poplar Point, I see a site in MD as a real possibility.

Posted by: Bluff, what bluff? | March 5, 2008 12:51 PM

Arlington would be just as good a location for a stadium, if not better than Ward 8 in D.C....

NIMBYs!

Any area's in Montgomery County, MD? Rockville, Bethesda areas long the Metro Red Line?

NIMBYs NIMBYs NIMBYs NIMBYs!

Posted by: Kev | March 5, 2008 12:54 PM

Right, there actually already seems to be (somewhat strong) support among the citizens of Ward 8 for a stadium.

It's kind of refreshing that they realize a stadium in their backyard could actually be a value to the development of Poplar Point and the growth/improvement of Anacostia.

I don't think anyone would see that kind of non-NIMBY attitude in any other neighborhood that could be considered for a stadium.

Posted by: Not sure on the stalling tactic | March 5, 2008 1:03 PM

I'm a little disappointed that so many fans have turned this into a hate rant about Marc Fisher. Listen, I'm not a fan of Mr. Fisher's views either, but I personally like to keep some sort of civility when posting in these comment areas. Let's all try and be a little more friendly to the guy. This wasn't even a negative article. I think there were some glaring errors that could, and politely should be pointed out to him, but again, the article was not negative. Let's try and remember that, and be a little more civil in the future. For anyone that's interested there's a blog about United and the development here...

www.keepunitedindc.blogspot.com

Posted by: C | March 5, 2008 1:12 PM

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We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.
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Posted by: Post a Comment | March 5, 2008 1:13 PM

Question for Mr. Fisher:

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But if the mayor made a strong pitch for the soccer stadium, he would incur the wrath of some of his most devoted and important supporters, the environmental community, which has lined up strongly against the stadium and in support of keeping as much of Poplar Point as possible as unspoiled parkland.
-------

So would Clark (the selected developer) not "develop" the portion of the Poplar Point site that would have been used for a stadium?

Is it a question of stadium v unspoiled parkland?

Or would the developer still develop something on that specific spot (and still leave the overall amount of "unspoiled parkland" in the plan for Poplar Point's development)?

Posted by: Open or developed? | March 5, 2008 1:17 PM

Also, I just wanted to say that I don't see any real reason to bring race into the matter. I think to say that an entire race dislikes a sport unanimously is a pretty ignorant statement to make on a public forum. One of the best friends I have made from going to United games all of these years is a black district resident. Furthermore how can that claim be made when the majority of the residents in Ward 8 (a majority black ward) have shown support for such a stadium? It baffles me the ignorance of some when this matter gets brought up.

Posted by: C | March 5, 2008 1:18 PM

Calling United's Bluff???

Perhaps it would have been wiser for DC to have called MLB's bluff.

Certainly the city may have been financially better off if the previous admin had demanded MLB either chip in to help with the Nationals stadium costs or try to find some other city (Vegas or San Juan were "grand" options) for their old Montreal team.

Now it seems like the city is very accomodating toward building (and paying for) new stadiums -- or at least the associated infrastructure.

If the Nationals benefitted (outrageously) from that fact (and the Redskins may indeed do that same in the coming years), it seems logical that United should also be able to get a piece of that stadium resources pie.

Posted by: When to call a bluff | March 5, 2008 1:24 PM

well at least Fisher has dropped his "let's put DC United in Barry Farms" idea. Im still at a loss as to how he thought that was a good idea let alone viable.

Posted by: Cut bait | March 5, 2008 1:27 PM

Well, it appears that there are not any other or better ideas for United in DC than what is available in the planned development of some of the land at Poplar Point.

Posted by: Get it done | March 5, 2008 1:31 PM

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Mayor Adrian Fenty very much wants to keep the D.C. United soccer franchise in the District, but he does not consider a soccer stadium nearly as powerful an engine of economic development as the Washington Nationals' new ballpark on the Southeast waterfront.
----------

Why compare the two stadiums?

Shouldn't "United's stadium" be compared to what else would or would not be put in there and analyze how "powerful an engine of economic development" those options for Poplar Point would or would not be.

Posted by: Dante | March 5, 2008 1:38 PM

Let it be known I am DC united season ticket holder.

However, it's embarrassing to be a soccer fan when I read these comments. The second fisher says something wrong, all we do is b**ch and moan over and over again. You all make it seem like Fenty will make his decision on the stadium based off what he reads from Marc Fisher's blog.

Posted by: SteveM | March 5, 2008 1:38 PM

Once again the thin skinned United fans cry that their sport isn't taken seriously by screaming classless insults at all that isn't soccer and all that doesn't directly support their "right" to a publicly funded stadium. You chase fans away with every post.

Posted by: Thin Skins | March 5, 2008 1:39 PM

"their 'right' to a publicly funded stadium"?

Me thinks you're not familiar with all of the history of this Poplar Point stadium "idea" and the potential sources of it's funding (should it ever get built).

Posted by: Thanks Fenty | March 5, 2008 1:42 PM

To anyone who thinks that posts here are being too hard on the Mr. Fisher, you should examine his total contribution on the subject. Having done that you will see a pattern of statements that are both misinformed and with a decidedly anti-soccer bias. That's the baggage that people are bringing to this conversation.

Please read the post by Not Marc Fisher above. There's much more going on here to do with the way American cities are governed and run than might appear.

Finally, the majority of soccer fans don't hate other sports at all. What they object to is the unnecessary trivialization of the sport by an old guard sports and media establishment that doesn't really understand the sport and is not inclined to expand their comfort zones to learn.

Posted by: AlexandriaDan | March 5, 2008 1:43 PM

----
You all make it seem like Fenty will make his decision on the stadium based off what he reads from Marc Fisher's blog.
----

This (I hope) is a issue that extends well beyond just what Fenty thinks or believes.

"Public opinion" is greatly important.

Opinions are formed by what people read in the paper (or at an online blog from a paper).

The WashPost has a good name, many here are just questioning some of the figures and statements Fisher included in his blog today.

No one has seem to come up with realistic "alternate site" ideas that DC could pursue for a soccer stadium.

Posted by: Poplar Point | March 5, 2008 1:45 PM

If Steve M and Thin Skins want to go on reading factually incorrect writings from an admittedly biased writer, feel free. I know enough to say that there are many sides to this story that Fisher and Nakamura refuse to address. If all the District residents have to go by on this issue is the biased reportings of these two Washington Post employees then I applaud the efforts of all the contributors on this blog to set the facts straight.

Posted by: DirtyHarry | March 5, 2008 1:48 PM

NotMarcFisher,

You're post should read that Fenty promised 20,000 United fans that he pledged his support "to build a soccer stadium at POPLAR POINT" not at RFK.

""Fact: 9 days before the election, candidate Fenty appeared before 22,000 fans at RFK and pledged his support to build a soccer stadium at RFK.""

Posted by: delantero | March 5, 2008 1:56 PM

So what have we learned here. Most politicians will say whatever they can to make the people happy and get votes in a campaign, and whatever makes the corporate sponsors happy and get money after the campaign for the next campaign. And that most reporters will just follow their press releases with minimal critical thinking. Next weeks lesson why all facts are actually subjective and laws are really guidelines.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 2:02 PM

Yeah, Thin Skins, because without United fans this blog is so popular that we can expect to see a huge dip in attendance this season.

Posted by: Max | March 5, 2008 2:02 PM

Although Fisher will deny it until the end of days - if nothing else this blog is clear evidence that soccer sells.

People are passionate about it, are willing to pony up $22 and more to see a game at a decrepit stadium that was built for anything but soccer, and are coming from demographics that are growing in this area more than any other: college-educated, suburban soccer families, and recent immigrants.

Building a new stadium should be a no-brainer, and the only reason it doesn't get done is the only thing Fisher is right about in his post:

"Fenty is holding back, waiting to see how engaged the D.C. council and other factions in the city become on the issue."

Well - time to get 'em engaged!

Posted by: cpwdc | March 5, 2008 2:02 PM

If soccer (or futbol if you prefer) is so popular, then all you need to do is work as a fan base to influence city leaders. If they feel that enough voters and residents are in favor of putting the stadium at Poplar Point, then it will end up there.

The lack of respect thing just does not play all that well. It comes off as whining to someone from outside the fray reading about it.

I generally think this kind of development is a good idea, see Verizon, nee MCI, Center for an example, but with the vitriol being spewed here, I'm wondering if I should be in favor of this one.

Posted by: Power of the Ballot | March 5, 2008 2:05 PM

I sure hope something can be worked out for DC. I like going to the games, but I'm not going to go all the way to Maryland.

Posted by: huskerdont | March 5, 2008 2:07 PM

Well its not just city leaders who we have to influence for that one. The real problem is that even if the city was gun ho about it the federal leaders would probably have some say in our spending of any city money on a project like that, as they do with every single thing that happens in DC.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 2:13 PM

Well, well, seems to be quite the clamor for a response today, so here goes:
As I've written many times before, I think a soccer stadium is a good idea for the District, and it's entirely consistent and fair to expect the city to pay for infrastructure improvements. But I don't see in any of the proposals for a soccer stadium any projection that the facility would spark the level of economic development that would justify the taxpayers ponying up for the stadium itself.
As several of you have noted, that approach matches the original Victor MacFarlane concept for the Poplar Point stadium: owner pays for stadium, city pays for infrastructure.
But the Poplar Point site is a difficult one for several reasons: 1) There is obviously great developer interest in building residential and retail there even without a stadium. And 2) the current proposals would take a big chunk of national parkland and develop it, which no one would dare to propose in a more affluent part of town. As it happens, there is plenty of undeveloped and privately-owned space right next to the national park, and I'd love to see all that development happen there, as well as over the I-295 highway, as some developers have proposed. A stadium built over the expressway is also an excellent idea.
A bunch of you are quibbling over the number of home games United plays--as the link in my original post shows, 15 is indeed the number of home MLS games, and you are of course right that there are other non-league games played over the course of a season. But the point remains the same: Just as with football, there aren't enough home dates for retailers to decide to locate next to the stadium based primarily on the foot traffic that fans would provide. That's not my view, it's the view of the retail brokers who have analyzed these scenarios based on traffic in other cities.
Has Mayor Fenty shifted his position on building a stadium for the soccer team? Obviously, he would say no--he continues to state that he supports the notion of a stadium. But one of the main reasons I reported this piece today is that I see a change in how he talks about this; to my ear, he is indeed moving away from the pro-stadium statement that several of you recall from last season. If you don't consider my calling him out on this to be calling him out on this, so be it.
As for the environmentalists' opposition to both public money going toward a soccer stadium and the use of the Poplar Point site for a stadium, I have a short stack of statements here from at least four D.C. environmentalist groups to that effect. Sure, some of you may consider yourselves green and disagree with those groups, but that's what those groups have decided on as their policy.
For what it's worth, I don't agree with the mayor that United and their suitors in Maryland are engaged in some sort of bluff. Just like the Redskins, United, in my view, will take the best deal they can get for themselves and their fan base, and if that means leaving the District, I think they would do it if they saw the alternative as being years of inaction and eventual displacement from RFK.
Finally, those of you who concluded that I am reluctant to respond to each criticism of each blog post are correct: My general view about the comment board is that this is your place, your forum, and that I get to have my say up top, so you should have control over what follows. But I do try to pop in on questions of fact and when there is a strong sense that I ought to respond. I do think that those voices who detect a certain defensiveness among hard-core soccer fans are correct; I have certainly criticized soccer in the past and I'm sure I will again in the future, but this post was primarily a report of what the mayor told me in an interview, some of which struck me as new and therefore worthy of your consideration. As always, I appreciate your reading and commenting.

Posted by: Fisher | March 5, 2008 2:43 PM

--------
Well, well, seems to be quite the clamor for a response today, so here goes:
As I've written many times before, I think a soccer stadium is a good idea for the District, and it's entirely consistent and fair to expect the city to pay for infrastructure improvements. But I don't see in any of the proposals for a soccer stadium any projection that the facility would spark the level of economic development that would justify the taxpayers ponying up for the stadium itself.
----------

Fair enough.

But, I think many will be amazed by what a United Stadium in Poplar Point would do for Anacostia.

Posted by: Go Team | March 5, 2008 2:49 PM

--------
But the Poplar Point site is a difficult one for several reasons: 1) There is obviously great developer interest in building residential and retail there even without a stadium. And 2) the current proposals would take a big chunk of national parkland and develop it, which no one would dare to propose in a more affluent part of town.
--------

The city has already selected a developer for the land at Poplar Point, have they not?

A decision to be made (likely one of many) is if a soccer stadium will be included in that development, or if some other structure(s)/use will pop up on that peice of to-be-developed land in Poplar Point.

As far as I know, Poplar Point is getting built upon in the coming years, and I'm not certain what the arguments are against including a soccer stadium as part of that development.

Posted by: Where we stand - | March 5, 2008 2:58 PM

My one point of contention would be that calling poplar point a 'National Park' is a little disingenuous. It's a national park only in the sense that it's owned by the Feds and administered by the NPS - otherwise, it's an overgrown and underutilized plot of land that's not currently suited to be much of a park at all.

Also, a soccer stadium alone will not be a draw for retail. This is true, but of course, no one is proposing to build a soccer stadium and a soccer stadium alone - in every instance, that stadium is surrounded with new development - the stadium is just the hook. And if DC is going to front big bucks for infrastructure anyway, the question has to be about the tradeoffs - do they let United walk, and build some more office there? Or do they help facilitate a stadium, securing their place in the District for the foreseeable future? All else being equal, I'll take the latter, not just as a point of civic pride, but as a real enhancement and draw to an otherwise unattractive area. Downtown was well on it's way to coming back, but Verizon helped push it over the edge. Same goes here - and DC should give that extra push.

Posted by: Alex B. | March 5, 2008 2:58 PM

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For what it's worth, I don't agree with the mayor that United and their suitors in Maryland are engaged in some sort of bluff.
------

That seems strange, given the title of this blog entry and the tone of your initial post.

------
Fenty is not persuaded that the Poplar Point development needs a stadium to succeed: "We have three excellent plans to develop Poplar Point by nationally recognized developers who are ready and willing to make a great development without a soccer stadium," the mayor says.

Still, he adds, he feels "a huge impetus to do something to keep the team here. They are clearly a valuable private enterprise contributor to the city."
---------

If the mayor and the city council see a "huge impetus", there aren't many signs that they've come up with other (non-Poplar Point) proposals for a stadium site.

Posted by: a bluff game? | March 5, 2008 3:06 PM

My understanding with the original proposal was that there would be the DCU stadium, but also a complex of fields and offices for public use, soccer camps for local kids (particularly from surrounding neighborhoods), etc. Was this dropped from the proposal and if not, was it considered by retail analysts for foot traffic, etc.?

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | March 5, 2008 3:06 PM

I wonder about the Metro access to a stadium at that location. Anyone know how far it is from Anacostia to Poplar Point?

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 3:07 PM

I wonder about the Metro access to a stadium at that location. Anyone know how far it is from Anacostia to Poplar Point?

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 03:07 PM

Bout a half mile walk under 295 - barring any Anacostia stop expansion to put it closer to the Point.

Posted by: Kev | March 5, 2008 3:13 PM

Clark has some presentations that I believe showed that the potential site of a soccer stadium in Poplar Point would be within 3-5 blocks (if not closer) of the Anacostia Metro station.

Of course a system of ferries from Georgetown, Old Town and other areas that serviced the Nationals (and hopefully United Stadium) sites seems likely a fine idea as well.

Posted by: Proximity | March 5, 2008 3:16 PM

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Bout a half mile walk under 295 - barring any Anacostia stop expansion to put it closer to the Point.
-----

The "Poplar Point" site and the Anacostia Metro station are both on the "north, nw" side of 295, are they not. Any Metro rider exiting at the Anacostia train station would not need to cross 295 (or any deck to be build over it, afaik.

Posted by: Geography? | March 5, 2008 3:19 PM

The "Poplar Point" site and the Anacostia Metro station are both on the "north, nw" side of 295, are they not. Any Metro rider exiting at the Anacostia train station would not need to cross 295 (or any deck to be build over it, afaik.

Posted by: Geography? | March 5, 2008 03:19 PM

Nope - the Metro is on the other side of 295 - closer to MLK Ave.

Posted by: Kev | March 5, 2008 3:24 PM

I never been out that stop so I just did not know. Sad I only live two stops in to the city on the same line though.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 3:25 PM

Is there another entrance on the Poplar Point side - I think that's where the Kiss and Ride is?

Posted by: Kev | March 5, 2008 3:26 PM

So are the environmentalists against the Starbucks, Taco Bell and Appleby's that will dot the Poplar Point landscape?

With no stadium, PP will turn into a huge concrete jungle like Crytal City used to be. And I won't have any reason to spend my hard earned bucks down there. I can get a taco down the street. Don't need to travel to Ward 8 for one.

Posted by: RowdyRoddyPiper | March 5, 2008 3:30 PM

Looks like Fisher shut the crazies up, nice work.

Posted by: Thin Skins | March 5, 2008 3:30 PM

Posted by: Clark is the developer | March 5, 2008 3:30 PM

Didn't shut me up dude, his halfssed retraction of his original blog post is all smoke and mirrors. His biased slant is there for all to read.

Posted by: DirtyHarry | March 5, 2008 3:36 PM

Posted by: Enjoy RFK | March 5, 2008 3:37 PM

Isn't it a bit revisionist to say that the ballpark is spurring development? I seem to remember all those big cranes in the neighborhood putting up offices and housing long before the baseball proposal came about. While it is possible there may be some more entertainment type venues that come around after the ballpark isn't it just as likely that they would have sprung up to serve the new neighborhood anyway?

Let's also remember that MacFarlane's plans for Poplar Point included much more than just the soccer stadium. They included a large mixed use component just as all of the proposals solicted by Fenty do. In addition to United Park there was to be a hotel, retail, housing (a large proportion of it affordable housing) as well as some parkland. MacFarlane was set to pay for it in exchange for what appears to be fairly standard infrastructure improvements (which the city will need to provide no matter what gets built there anyway) and I believe some also fairly standard tax breaks. The club really got involved in marketing the plan to the residents and providing all sorts of programs for kids that didn't exist there before.

A move to PG would be a much longer trip for me from Arlington but I hope DCU does what's best for the team. We can't wait around forever for DC to get its act together on Poplar Point. Mayor Williams promised us a new stadium at PP in time for the 2007 season. The club is losing all sorts of money in the current arrangement at RFK that they could be collecting if they owned their own stadium. If MD makes us a good offer I say start digging!

Posted by: Glenn | March 5, 2008 3:37 PM

Is there another entrance on the Poplar Point side - I think that's where the Kiss and Ride is?

There does appear to be a second (northern) entrance/exit for the station.

http://www.wmata.com/metrorail/Stations/station.cfm?station=85

Location: Shannon Pl. between ML King Ave. and Firth Sterling Ave. SE. North of Howard Rd. and Anacostia Freeway


Certainly if a stadium is built there, I'm guessing United fans would be able to find the best way to get to the stadium from the metro stop.

Posted by: Green Line | March 5, 2008 3:38 PM

Ah yes I read it, I remember commenting on it and having some schmuck who did not get the sarcasm in my comment going off on me and calling me a redneck or something. It does go to show how some people take the soccer team here very seriously.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 3:42 PM

a fine rebuttal marc; as long as we agree that fenty is a $h!t-eating snake.

I know this argument has been made, but here goes again. MacFarlane and Co. had been performing all the ground work and pre-development stuff (yes that's the official term) under the assumption that they had an agreement with DC to build a stadium and receive develepment rights. This was probably a very large contributing factor to Mac's purchase of the team, though he is a great owner regardless. Then DC backed out of the agreement (I never did see a contract though that is a lot of effort expended for a maybe) citing too high of infrastructure costs and tried to use Mac's proposal as a leverage device when going to an open bidding process. As of now I have still havent heard what the actual infrastructure cost of the 3 accepted propsals are, but i can only imagine they are within 30-50M of Mac's.

So excuse me for getting pissed off at a two-timing mayor running his city like a 3rd world nation.

Posted by: DudeAbides | March 5, 2008 3:43 PM

more info from a different source:

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2008/02/28/more-info-on-poplar-point-development/

there's also a link to a Clark pdf

Posted by: Looks good to me, if they build it | March 5, 2008 3:47 PM

I have to respectfully disagree with Glenn on the changes around the new ball park.

Living in that neighborhood I have seen a lot of big changes happen after the stadium was announced. vacant buildings are being torn down and built into new properties, Just look at south capitol street some time. Some of it has to do with the whole SW-Waterfront revitalization project being one of two anchors the stadium and the new waterfront drag. There were some office building planed down there before hand but the stadium's effect is already noticeable if you know what to look for. Don't get me started on the gentrification that is going on around there.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 3:48 PM

Was this article written in January? You got the flu or something and just throwing up some filler? All these quotes from Fenty sound like they came from before he awarded Poplar Point to Clark...

Posted by: j | March 5, 2008 3:53 PM

Marc Fisher is simply the latest in the unending line of ill-informed ugly American sports writers (Wilbon excepted, although Kornheiser is a neanderthal in this regard) who are so isolated that they actually believe that the Super Bowl is the most watched sporting event annually, that the Red Sox and Cowboys are the most valuable professional sports franchises, that the annual MLB fall classic is actually a "world" series, that NCAA and universities should rightfully serve as a minor league for the NFL and NBA and that American indoor or outdoor stadiums are loud and fans passionate. TRUTH BE TOLD that the World Cup, Euro, African, South American, Asian and Olympic soccer finals far outpace the Super Bowl in viewers, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Chelsea all have net worth in excess of any American franchise in any sport, that there are real continent and world championships in soccer (which cannot be said for ANY of the "big four" American sports as they are played in so few countries worldwide)and that the San Siro, Bernabeau, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and almost all the soccer stadiums in south and central America make FedEx Field or the Verizon Center seem like a garden club on game days. WHY? Once soccer fully establishes itself in the USA, which it is already doing (and much more rapidly than the stodgy self-serving sports US media would have you believe), the traditional American sports will have to accept soccer as one of the big five, with actual import for futbol being in the top three. Time to wake up, America -- time to get real, Fisher.

Posted by: truth be told | March 5, 2008 4:00 PM

There are indeed two entrances to the Metro Station, one north of the freeway and one south.

City Paper has a pdf of Clark's winning proposal, see for yourself on page 16:

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/the-iec-at-poplar-point-by-clark.pdf

Looks to be less than 1000 feet.

Posted by: Alex B | March 5, 2008 4:02 PM

Thank you for clearing that up Mr. Fisher. While I would agree with you that those statements by Fenty do show a disinclination to supporting a stadium I would disagree that this is a new development. Since the original development proposal fell through (for personal reasons?) Fenty has pretty consistently tried to grandstand and delay on the issue. He seemed to only grudgingly give lip service to the idea after hearing the support of Barry, Ward 8 and the willingness of the developers to add a stadium. Now he seems to once again be talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Public funds? insinuations of handouts? where do these straw men come from? I would really like to see some reporting on why Fenty has been so obstructionist (without the spin of infrastructure costs and tax breaks) and why he seems to always throw a wrench into the plans whenever they seem to be going smoothly

Posted by: Pindar | March 5, 2008 4:10 PM

truth be told, until that happens, can you just go to one of those other great countries? thanks.

Posted by: no truth in that | March 5, 2008 4:32 PM

I would hardly consider Wilbon a quality reporter. but I am still mad about his BS on the sean taylor thing when he was talking out of his ass.

I would say that at least Fisher did not completely make stuff up about what's going on. just lowballed the number of games and is giving his opinion.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 4:41 PM

Marc, my policy is not to participate in this manner, but so I guess this will have to be an exception.

I enjoyed your posting and I don't view you as a hater of soccer. I thought the posting was fair and balanced reporting.

My only quibble, if it is one, is with the title as it implies something that isn't true - first that there is a "bluff" and second that our search for alternatives outside of the district has anything to do with anything other than needing a stadium inside the beltway on a metro line(we won't build a greensfield stadium). I think we have been very clear that we would prefer to stay in the district and have spent millions trying to make that happen. So the Mayor's statement is accurate - we don't want to leave the district. And your statement is correct as well, we will leave if we have no viable district alternative. That isn't a threat by any stretch, just a statement of the factual situation in which we find ourselves.

Do I believe a D.C. United stadium in Anacostia would make a difference to the development of the overall program and its progress to completion? Yes. As, is my guess, do most, if not all, of the developers involved. Will it eventually happen anyway? Yes. But the pace of development and the net present value will be greater for the city, the developers and the neighborhood, in my view and experience, if a D.C. United stadium is there.

Either way, stadium in the District or outside the District, D.C. United won't abandon the District nor the east of the river communities. We will continue our programs there no matter where our stadium is located.

This portion of my professional career is dedicated to making a difference in urban communities. We won't propose to put our stadium there if we didn't believe that it would make a positive difference from an economic and social perspective. I can understand someone else having a different point of view but it bothers me when my/our motives are questioned.

D.C. United's mission statement is simple: to serve our community and to win championships. We may not be able to accomplish the latter every year, though we try very hard to do so, but I assure you we succeed every year in the former.

I want to thank you and others for continuing to provide a forum for everyone's views to be shared, including mine. My partners and I want to thank everyone who is supportive of D.C. United, and assure you that our commitments to excellence on the field and service off of it, is real and permanent

And finally, I want to thank the Mayor and the City Council for putting in the hard work that is necessary to strike a "fair" deal. It doesn't mean one will happen, but the effort is much appreciated by D.C. United and its owners.

Posted by: Victor MacFarlane | March 5, 2008 6:23 PM

What's so pathetic about it is that the monstrous cost of the baseball stadium that Fisher adores has negatively influenced perception of the soccer stadium.

Once again, DC United and it's owners including--African American billionaire McFarland and Asian American Chang and a couple white folk like Christian Laettner and Discovery Communications John Hendricks--have always said they will pay for the stadium with THEIR OWN MONEY.

Posted by: stop smelling the markers, Fisher | March 5, 2008 6:55 PM

If that is the real Victor MacFarlane, and I will give the benefit of the doubt. I want to say kudos on being one of those owners who is actually willing to interact with fans in a public forum, as so few sports team owners do so. Best of luck getting a new stadium and relatively new team.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 5, 2008 7:00 PM

Great post Mr. MacFarlane
:)

Posted by: A United fan | March 5, 2008 10:33 PM

The fact that Victor MacFarlane will take time out of his busy schedule to post here is just another credit to the United organization, and shows that this is much more than just a soccer team. MacFarlane and the rest of United's Ownership group legitimately cares about this community.

When's the last time Dan Snyder posted in a public forum like this?

Posted by: DCUMD | March 5, 2008 10:46 PM

I don't have time....clearing brush on my property and playing Madden 2001.

Posted by: Dan Snyder | March 5, 2008 10:56 PM

That is awesome that Mr. MacFarlane posted here. And I think the point that Fisher has overlooked, is that while there may not be enough home games to sustain permanent businesses based on that traffic, this stadium will bring 20,000 x 20 games to Anacostia, and those people NEVER would have set foot there otherwise. When they see the sweeping views, when they experience the other elements of Poplar Point, when they have a good time in Ward 8, they will be more likely to care about Ward 8, support development and costs in Ward 8, visit for other reasons, and tell others. Without the stadium, ya got yourself a nice office park and some woods.

Posted by: David aka Not Marc Fisher | March 5, 2008 10:57 PM

Great post Uncle Vic! Class all the way!

Posted by: C | March 6, 2008 1:32 AM

Mr. Fisher, thanks for giving some attention to the stadium issue.

I hope you're wrong about "delay" being the most likely scenario. The mayor may not intend to use the demolition of RFK as a threat, but that will be the case anyway if this thing does not start moving soon.

The encouraging thing is that both he and DC United appear to agree in principle, even if they have not said as much. That principle is that the team would pay for a huge chunk of the stadium, with the city covering infrastructure costs--costs that it would cover no matter what sort of development went it. It's potentially a very good deal for the city.

But it could have been better!

I don't think you really called Fenty out. To call him out, you needed to point out that in the original deal, the team was prepared to pay for ALL of the stadium itself. But he opted to scuttle that plan--years in the making--so he could open it up to competitive bids. After choosing Clark, the mayor came out of the blue to say that the city might be willing to pay for part of the stadium.

But that wouldn't have been necessary before. And now he wants to talk sagely and skeptically about it, as if he didn't put himself in this situation in the first place. Ugh.

Regardless, I hope the stadium stays in DC and the city and the team work something out sooner rather than later.

And a big thanks to Mr. MacFarlane for taking the time to weigh in.

Posted by: Joe S. | March 6, 2008 3:25 AM

This blog and comments section has actually turned quite useful and infomative.

Marc, any chance someone at the Post (perhaps Nakamura) can find out what the "next step" is in the development of Poplar Point by Clark.

And if those steps will (or will not) indeed include construction of a soccer stadium.

Thanks to all for participatings, and a grand thank you to Mr. Victor MacFarlane for sharing his views on the situation.

Posted by: United in 2008 | March 6, 2008 6:39 AM

Remember that the last time a professional sports team offered to pay for its own new stadium in the District and the mayor called the team's "bluff," the team wound up building its new stadium in Maryland and the mayor went down the tubes after one term.

Posted by: woody2471 | March 6, 2008 8:11 AM

The NFL to MLS comparisons aren't any more relevant or useful than the MLB to MLS comparisons that some are trying to make.

MLS is its own (new and growing) thing.

The stadium in Poplar Point for D.C. United seems like the right thing.

But not because of what happened when JKC to his NFL team to MD.

Posted by: Its own sport | March 6, 2008 9:01 AM

But not because of what happened when JKC took his NFL team to MD.

Posted by: Correction | March 6, 2008 9:02 AM

The fact that Victor MacFarlane will take time out of his busy schedule to post here is just another credit to the United organization

The credulity expressed in the above sentence is a demonstration of the kind of weird, culty behavior of the soccer crowd.

"Time out of his busy schedule"? DCUMD, it's not as though MacFarlane is stopping by Children's to bring toys to leukemia patients. He wrote here because he stands to make a lot of money off this deal, and he felt it in his interest to make slight clarifications to Marc's reporting.

I don't know how many of the commenters here are in the District. I suspect that a good portion are NOT, from the way many of the soccer fans personalize the debate and ridicule those of us who have doubts about the project. Again, culty behavior.

Really, some of the soccer fans need to recognize that the avalanche of mockery and name-calling is doing a lot of damage to your case in the minds of many District residents who were more or less on the fence. Why should all that money be spent (infrastructure, I know, but it's still tax money that would be spent) for fans who act like entitled, whining jerks?

Posted by: Jamie F | March 6, 2008 9:54 AM

Jamie,
I am in the district, and am pro-spending on the whole Poplar Point project, if the stadium ends up included in that fine by me.

As we move into the next century we are going into an era of re-urbanization. Americans are finally abandoning the wasteful suburban society life style and moving back to a more common sense world. However our cities have been neglected for years and need serious work in terms of becoming eco-friendly with expanding mass transit and building new and desirable green infrastructure.

We also need to become more family friendly, with quality standards for our schools better paid teachers and creating environments where children want to learn.

I think this whole project will be about creating more revenue for those kinds of programs. Some people say it cannot be done because it is too expensive, but I say it must be done because the consequences of not doing so would be far worse for the city. (I am talking about the whole Poplar Point project not just the stadium).

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 6, 2008 10:30 AM

Jamie F, excellent point.

Any group is whiny when they are mistreated (or if they "wrongly" think they may be getting mistreated).

This may or may not come down to what the fans and/or the residents of DC want (and do not want).

It will (or won't be) a business deal between the DC govt/some developers and perhaps the owners of D.C. United. Or it will be a deal that D.C. United are able to reach with some other govt in another nearby location.

as for:
---------
from the way many of the soccer fans personalize the debate and ridicule those of us who have doubts about the project.
---------

What are people's doubts about this project? What are the sides of the equation that Fenty must be weighing?

The development of Poplar Point is happening. Clark will be building there. What are the specific concerns against including a stadium amongst that new development? What other building(s) would serve to drive foot traffic to the area in a manner that a stadium could/will?

(and yes I realize that some of those folks who'll be a part of that foot traffic may indeed by whiny soccer fans, but I certainly don't think it's fair to stereotype the entire "group of fans" based solely on some posted comments to a Fisher blog entry. In fact, I think a fair share of the response on this page have not been of the personal or ridiculing nature.

Again, what are the specific issue and concerns of those who think a stadium is not an acceptable option for part of the Poplar Point development?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2008 10:31 AM

Again, what are the specific issue and concerns of those who think a stadium is not an acceptable option for part of the Poplar Point development?

Posted by: | March 6, 2008 10:31 AM

Most of the concerns I have heard when you really look at them. They have less to do with the stadium and more to do with spending money on development in general. The stadium is just an easy target I think for these concerns.

1. Gentrification.
2. The, our schools are crumbling problem why spend money on other stuff issue.
3. The environmentalism issue.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 6, 2008 10:45 AM

---
Most of the concerns I have heard when you really look at them. They have less to do with the stadium and more to do with spending money on development in general.
---

And I think that's the issue Fisher has missed.

The development of Poplar Point is a reality.

Clark has been selected. Development will occur.

I don't follow (beyond the initial concerns about "Development" in general) why there are concerns about "a stadium" within that development plan.

Posted by: More or less | March 6, 2008 10:52 AM

""Is it a question of stadium v unspoiled parkland?""

NO! This is a question of a block of residential apartments OR a stadium. Clark is going to build on this land regardless.

Check out the plan here:

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2008/02/28/more-info-on-poplar-point-development/

ttp://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/the-iec-at-poplar-point-by-clark.pdf

Posted by: delantero | March 6, 2008 10:56 AM

----
By Marc Fisher | March 5, 2008; 8:03 AM ET

And Fenty is not persuaded that the Poplar Point development needs a stadium to succeed: "We have three excellent plans to develop Poplar Point by nationally recognized developers who are ready and willing to make a great development without a soccer stadium," the mayor says.
----

So Fenty thinks there is the potential in Poplar Point for "a great development without a soccer stadium."

MacFarlane, of course, disagrees:

----
Posted by: Victor MacFarlane | March 5, 2008 06:23 PM

Do I believe a D.C. United stadium in Anacostia would make a difference to the development of the overall program and its progress to completion? Yes. As, is my guess, do most, if not all, of the developers involved. Will it eventually happen anyway? Yes. But the pace of development and the net present value will be greater for the city, the developers and the neighborhood, in my view and experience, if a D.C. United stadium is there.

Either way, stadium in the District or outside the District, D.C. United won't abandon the District nor the east of the river communities. We will continue our programs there no matter where our stadium is located.

This portion of my professional career is dedicated to making a difference in urban communities. We won't propose to put our stadium there if we didn't believe that it would make a positive difference from an economic and social perspective.
------

Posted by: Whom do you believe/trust more? | March 6, 2008 11:04 AM

""Is it a question of stadium v unspoiled parkland?""

NO! This is a question of a block of residential apartments OR a stadium. Clark is going to build on this land regardless.

Posted by: delantero | March 6, 2008 10:56 AM

I think that is the real debate. I was speaking before of the "populist" issues that we hear about in the press, which makes it out to be the stadium v parkland debate. Maybe because the idea of a story, rich person solution A v rich person solution B is less interesting.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 6, 2008 11:22 AM

Just 3 weeks ago, MacFarlane said "I'm hopeful" when asked if he was confident of council approval for any public-private partnership on the stadium --

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2008/02/15/macfarlane-speaks-says-hes-hopeful-of-council-approval/

Some real reporting from the Post on where the city council stands on the issue would likely be of interest to the paper's readers and the public at large.

As would some info on how those stadium talks between Clark and MacFarlane/United are (or are not) progressing this spring.

When will Poplar Point be ready for Clark to being their development construction, and will a stadium be a part of that work?

Posted by: Who has the story? | March 6, 2008 11:25 AM

The contrast between Fenty and MacFarlane's position got me thinking. MacFarlane has pledged billions in development to the underserved areas of DC, and Fenty is looking a gift horse in the mouth. If MacFarlane wanted to make a statement, he could pull his support for other projects. THAT would be a wake up call. And if United really wanted to stay in DC, he would do it. But he hasn't.
So what does that tell you? BELTWAY-UNITED!
Get used to it.

We the people, the fans, are about to get screwed by a thick-headed mayor and a developer who is not willing to use his muscle to get us a stadium in DC.

Our Mayor wants development. He wants to see the great streets program succeed. So let's ask - which is better for Green Line development through the middle of the city? An anchor in Anacostia that's centered around office space and a park, or an anchor in Anacostia with that but also with stadium that will drive people through the heart of the city, where they can stop for drinks and dinner on the way?

Posted by: David not Not Marc Fisher | March 6, 2008 1:10 PM

The problem with Fisher's story is that he left out one huge piece of information that completely changes the thrust of his article:

United owners offered to pay for the stadium in full, and Fenty walked away from the table.

That kinda makes it hard to write an article that boils down to Fenty wanting United to pay for a large part of the stadium.

The journalism school I went to spent quite a bit of time teaching about relevance and objectivity. Maybe Fisher was sick that semester? And maybe his editors really don't care?

Posted by: Gaping Hole | March 6, 2008 1:14 PM

Gaping Hole,

To be fair this is not an article its a blog entry. I think editors don't monitor these as policy. At least on Redskins Insider I know they tend to stay out of it.

Now if you want to argue that in the increasingly digital media era we are in that the line between blog and paper are increasingly blurred then you have a fair argument.

Posted by: Alex35332 | March 6, 2008 1:28 PM

Thanks to you Mr. MacFarlane, and Mr. Chang and the other owners for being a class and patient owner.

Posted by: DCAustinite | March 6, 2008 1:55 PM

I certainly would argue that reporter's credibility depends on being balanced and not leaving out significant basic parts of a story. There's no way that so doing on a blog does not affect their credibility in the increasingly irrelevant dead wood edition.

Posted by: Gaping Hole | March 6, 2008 8:09 PM

Mr. Fisher:

Do you have the time to go and thank whomever was responsible for this well-written editorial?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/06/AR2008030603452.html

Posted by: Thanks to the Post | March 7, 2008 10:30 AM

Marc, can you please do your home work before you open your ass, I mean your mouth? You really have no clue what you are talking about. At least get to know the team and what they do before you talk. 16 games a season? Wow I can really see how knowledgeable you are about DC United.

Posted by: Kevin J | March 8, 2008 2:13 AM

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