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Fenty on the Stadium


(By Lateef Mangum -- Courtesy D.C. Mayor's Office)

The pre-game parking lot at FedEx Field is perhaps not best suited to political discussions regarding land planning, so forgive me the tameness and generality of this brief conversation with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty about the future of a soccer-specific stadium in the District. If you're going to comment below, keep it civil, please.

"D.C. United's going to stay," Fenty told me. "Everything's going to be all right. I think one thing that's very clear, D.C. United's just a great franchise, and they've been great for the city. I think we've got a process for Poplar Point, and that may or may not include a soccer stadium, but whatever it is we're completely committed to D.C. United. We're going to work very closely with their ownership, and do everything we can to build them a new stadium, because we know that's a high priority."

I asked where such a stadium would be if not Poplar Point.

"You know, I don't know," he said. "I think when you've got the whole city....as long as you're willing to keep all the options out there, keep everything on the table, explore all options--and we're willing to do that--then I think we'll get it done. And we, of course, at Poplar Point didn't rule out a soccer stadium. I'm sure a bunch of the proposals will have a soccer stadium."

I asked whether he's heard from United supporters about the stadium's prospects.

"Oh yeah," he said. "They just really want to make sure the city is committed to the team, and we are. When you've got the commitment, when there's a will, you'll find a way. Again, we left the Poplar Point development open, and like I said, I fully expect a number of the proposals will have a soccer stadium there. And as long as those are the best proposals for the city, that'd be great."

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 24, 2007; 11:35 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Comments

Meh, I'll believe it when I see it. I'd like to know if any plans that don't include macfarlane will provide compensation to Macfarlane and AEG for the money they invested lobbying congress to get that parcel turned over to the city.

Posted by: DCAustinite | September 24, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

So, from the conversation and the photo, we can clearly see that the Mayor is either on the bus or not on the bus.

Posted by: Ken Kesey | September 24, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Outsider looking in, I think he's definately starting to feel the heat from the fans. And when it comes down to it, I know you'll turn it up!

Posted by: Huey | September 24, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

i'm ok with what he said... just deliver at a good location and soon please.

Posted by: hmmm | September 24, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I just dont trust him.

Posted by: Joe | September 24, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I'll take it. Sounds a lot better then what he has been saying....nothing.....and a lot better than the "wrecking ball" comment about RFK.

Posted by: Estadio Frederick Douglass | September 24, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

This is just like the baseball stadium...reel 'em in, then once you've got them by the shorthairs, negotiate for more and more and more.

DCU doesn't have much leverage unless they can say "Hey, look at this site in BFLoundon County that we're looking at!" or "Hey, Philly United sounds good, and they've got a stadium on the way!"

Posted by: RK | September 24, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

If only I could rep the Merry Prankster.

Posted by: viv | September 24, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

RK your scaring me... philly united... dont give them ideas

Posted by: Joe | September 24, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

What a politician, says a lot of what you want to hear but delivers nothing. Sure, maybe, I'm not against anything, but it could happen, it might not but who knows! Whatever. There was a plan in place and he delayed it. Delay, delay, delay. The only team in the league that actually has the GO AHEAD to build a stadium and isn't doing it are the NEW YORK RED BULLS! I would like MLS to come clean on what is going on there as well.

Posted by: Felix | September 24, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Blah, blah, blah...
Words, words, words....

Posted by: marksman | September 24, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey, c'mon now guys. This is actually pretty solid stuff. He's almost (and I will say almost) saying that there's no way he's moving it out of DC or letting it happen. That's great news for us, and the team, and the first time I've seen him acknowledge that there is a need for an SSS.

Oh, and just because no one has said it yet .... ZZZZZZZZZZ!

Posted by: DC Centurion's Shield | September 24, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure you could find this interview from about 15 years ago, but substitute Mayor For Life (or whoever was the mayor) for Fenty, and Skins for United...

Posted by: RK | September 24, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I hope somebody has explained to him, that just building a SSS for United won't work. United MUST control the revenue streams from the stadium in order to continue to be a successful franchise, and to eventually turn a profit.

Posted by: AlecW81 | September 24, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The Redskins "wanted" to move out of DC for a new stadium in the 1990's. That looks like it turned out to be not the wisest move.

It doesn't look like any party wants United anywhere but in DC.

Will that be at Poplar Point? who knows, but the delays and Fenty's recent comments sure leave a lot up in the air.

Posted by: in the City | September 24, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Well, if he doesn't have a site he's planning on taking a wrecking ball to RFK, how exactly is he supposed to keep the team in town?

Posted by: Matt | September 24, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I think the entire Poplar Point brouhaha has to be looked at in light of his concern over the possibility of (legitimate) criticism of not getting competing proposals, of a single-bidder give-away. The crunch will come when it is time to evaluate those proposals, or if none are forthcoming in a reasonable period of time.

Which raises the question: did they put any time limit on submission of new proposals?

Meanwhile, DC United fans, especially those who live in DC, keep those cards and letters to Fenty and your council representative coming. I got standard, non-committal responses, but that's to be expected. The point is they have to know that people out there are interested in this issue.

Posted by: Dave | September 24, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"in the City" - that is wrong. the 'skins wanted to build in DC. JKC went to MD only after there were too many hurdles put up by Sharon Pratt Dixon Kelly.

i dont understand the rosy colored glasses being put on by this statement. it was bland and non-comittal. I saw nothing coming close to saying "there's no way he's moving it out of DC or letting it happen."

open our eyes people and dont let up the pressure.

Posted by: Pindar | September 24, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Fenty the same guy that came in to RFK before his election during the MLS playoffs last year pretty much promising us (fans, players, etc) that DCU would get their own stadium soon enough? Looks more and more like that was just empty words to get some more votes out of.

Posted by: Chief Clancy Wiggum | September 24, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I believe there is an October deadline for proposals.

In the City, I think the Redskins -- the 2nd most valuable team -- are doing just fine, financially.

Posted by: RK | September 24, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this won't get deleted this time since it's actually relevent...

http://www.petitiononline.com/dcunited/petition.html

Grassroot support for United's stadium plans. May help, may not. But it can't hurt

Posted by: Adam | September 24, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

What does all of that nothing mean?

Posted by: sitruc | September 24, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I hope somebody has explained to him, that just building a SSS for United won't work. United MUST control the revenue streams from the stadium in order to continue to be a successful franchise, and to eventually turn a profit.

Posted by: AlecW81 | September 24, 2007 12:39 PM

---------------

Fenty's comments are typical politi-speak - non-committal and slightly ignorant (no one wants the city to build them a city-owned stadium a la Nationals Stadium). Though I find it a bit concerning that he's confident, almost to the point of cockiness, that DCU will stay in the city. He's essentially daring them to look elsewhere (with his thumb on his nose even). I wonder if he is thinking that putting a SSS on the Reservation 13 or on the lot next to RFK is a viable answer (and honestly, why wouldn't it be? Well, other than the environmental issues that had a hand in driving the Redskins out to Landover).

Posted by: DE | September 24, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"And we, of course, at Poplar Point didn't rule out a soccer stadium. I'm sure a bunch of the proposals will have a soccer stadium."

Does this mean he has basically ruled out the plan proposed by United, but will look at other plans from other folk that involve a stadium??

At no point does he say anything to the effect of "United's stadium proposal is indeed a possibility, but we want to look at other options as well"

I would think that this is how he would appeal to the fans if he was even slightly considering United's plan.

Instead I'm sensing "I know there's a lot of pressure for a SSS, and some time, somewhere, somehow, there will be one."

Just not now, at poplar point, or using United's proposal.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Hot. Air.

Posted by: Ron | September 24, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

If MacFarlane/DCUnited's proposal is the "best" proposal in the City's opinion, will United indeed win the "open bid" process.

Who makes that decision for the city (on how best to use the Poplar Point land)?

Posted by: Poplar Point | September 24, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Proposal deadline is Oct 19 at 12pm.

http://dcbiz.dc.gov/dmped/cwp/view,A,1365,Q,605545.asp

Posted by: emanon | September 24, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Adam, thanks for posting the petition. Lets keep those feet to the fire and vamos United!

Posted by: gallegoscot | September 24, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Well, apart from Fenty, I have faith in MacFarlane and Chang. They're businessmen and owners who care about the team, and they know how to make money. They don't have to care about the team but they do. They will get it done, and make a big pile of cash to boot.

Posted by: DCAustinite | September 24, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

ZZZZ. Words words words. Nothing nothing nothing.

Honestly it's more interesting talking about seeing DeRoux, Addlery, and Mediate in the starting line-up yesterday.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | September 24, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Does he realise that United will not permanently move into a SSS which they do not own?

Posted by: dwbpnm | September 24, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

They may just be words but at least he's not shying away from the topic. It's better than Dan getting the cold shoulder snub. Now THAT would speak volumes.

Posted by: Chico | September 24, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Rough translation: "I'd like for DC United to stay in the city, but I'm not going to invest much of my own political capital to make it happen. If someone else proposes a plan that looks like it will work and doesn't cost the City (and me) anything, it will have my complete support."

Rougher translation: "If YOU build it, I will come."

Posted by: united4dc | September 24, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"Honestly it's more interesting talking about seeing DeRoux, Addlery, and Mediate in the starting line-up yesterday."


DeRoux and Addlery weren't in the starting line-up yesterday. They came on as substitutes, DeRoux for Mediate.

Posted by: dave | September 24, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

He doesn't care. DC needs to either build a new stadium on the existing RFK site (which, according to every writer in the post, will not officially close forever since the Nats are gone) or get out of DC. There are plenty of Burbs that would be interested and you'd immediately get rid of having to deal with this city's foolish elected officials.

Posted by: Hacksaw | September 24, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Minor typo... should read "will NOW officially close forever...."

Posted by: hacksaw | September 24, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious promotional photo of Fenty getting off a bus. That dude never rode a bus in his life. They probably had to fumigate and de-louse that thing before he would go near it.

Posted by: Matte | September 24, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Leave out "starting". We have good copy editors here.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | September 24, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

everyone is missing the big picture. the key to all of this is the development rights (profit) to the surrounding land.

MacFarland et al bought the team not because they love the sport, but as the best looking entry to winning the development rights contest for the waterfront complex. Same thing with the previous ownership group (Willy Lauber (sp?)) who bailed when they realized they would not be able to get a decent deal.

SSS and controlling revenue are only imporant for game day operations. The league is NOT is not gonna get rich on stadium revenue. In the most simplistic scenario possible - do the math: a $200M 30,000 seat stadium must have 67 competely sold out games at an average ticket price $100 just to break even on the construction cost. Considering the most expensive walk up ticket at DCU is $45, it will be many many year, hopefully, before they reach $100 average ticket price. Of course, this example leaves out financing, actual daily operations, tax payouts, and many many more items which means the stadium will never pay for itself (most stadiums never pay off).

the real money is in owning the development rights. The city is attempting to regain a little self-respect at DCU's expense after getting date-raped/gang-banged by baseball. Don't forget Fenty was opposed to the billion dollar baseball boondoggle ($611m plus another $300m they are not directly attributing to the stadium but wouldnt be spent except for the stadium, plus overruns etc). The mayor is attempting to get more concessions from Macfarland and has opened up the sandbox to anyone and everyone. Whomever pays the city council members the most will win.

If the MacFarland group doesnt have the winning bid, dont be surprised to see them quickly putting DCU up on the blocks again. Almost all MLS teams burn cash at astonishing rates - without extremely deep pockets or some significant payoff at the end (development rights) there is no reason to stay in and every reason to get out.

Posted by: section 107 | September 24, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Let's just throw this idea out there...

What's the chance Poplar Point was thrown back to square one because downtown real estate developers, faced with a soft market, are desperate to avoid an additional project that would bring residential and retail space online, driving down values further? Especially a project with the advantage of a waterfront location.

I can walk from my office on N. Capitol to Chinatown and see half a dozen hug building projects underway, and there's already a regional condo glut.

Of course, in such a scenario Anacostia gets the development shaft...

Posted by: Matt | September 24, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"MacFarland et al bought the team not because they love the sport, but as the best looking entry to winning the development rights contest for the waterfront complex. Same thing with the previous ownership group (Willy Lauber (sp?)) who bailed when they realized they would not be able to get a decent deal."

Ummmm, No. The last group was forced to bail because they didn't have the money to complete the sale of DC United.

Posted by: No Money, No Sale | September 24, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

It this point, I am really am impressed with the way the Major League Baseball grabbed the city by the balls and got their new stadium built in practically no time.

As much as they absolutely screwed over the city, they did what they need to do. Give'em credit for playing hardball and getting the job done.

Being a good citizen and playing a fair game gets you nowhere in the District. Their's just way too many deceitful lairs (I mean) politicians and civic leaders that all want their piece of the pie.

Posted by: TCompton | September 24, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious promotional photo of Fenty getting off a bus. That dude never rode a bus in his life. They probably had to fumigate and de-louse that thing before he would go near it.

Posted by: Matte | September 24, 2007 02:34 PM

-------------

Actually, Fenty really did ride the bus to a meeting a couple weeks back. Apparently he was running late to a meeting in which he was going to announce, among other things, the date of DC's Car Free day. Instead of acting the hypocrite (at least this time), he chose to ride public transporation - bus to and Metro from.

Posted by: DE | September 24, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

McFarlane, with an "e". Normally I'm not so picky about grammar, but the petition contains the same misspelling. Details, folks.

Considering the fact that Fenty has been cavalier in his statements about this whole issue (especially the whole "wrecking ball" thing), I have to take his comments with a grain of salt. Chico is right that it's better he was willing to discuss it than not, but he still strikes me as not particularly concerned. I don't know whether he just feels soccer isn't important enough or if he's just trying to grandstand as "tough" on stadiums (now that they are seen as the devil within the city).

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | September 24, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

section 107...

The stadium revenue actually is a big driver for the building of SSS - even for United. Right now, DCU pays to use RFK and probably even has to pay for field upkeep beyond minimum standards. While they certainly receive money from tickeet sales, they do not get the revenue from the sale of concessions or parking.

With a stadium that they own they would eliminate the lease payment and add the receipts from the concessions and parking (if there is any). Undoubtedly, the stadium naming rights would be sold - more money going to DCU. They'd also be able to rent out the stadium to others for concerts or other events if they choose - all while keeping the associated miscellaneous revenue.

The development rights are indeed important, particularly to Victor McFarlane - but to imply that the only way to recoup costs for stadium construction is through ticket sales and that United's ownership group is interested only in the development rights is ridiculous

Posted by: DE | September 24, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

He needs to KEEP hearing from us, and he will.

www.dcunitedpetition.com

Posted by: Riz | September 24, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

McFarlane, with an "e". Normally I'm not so picky about grammar, but the petition contains the same misspelling. Details, folks.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | September 24, 2007 03:41 PM

Thanks for catching this, Chest. I'll be sure that is corrected in the final version which will be hand-delivered to him.

Posted by: Riz | September 24, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Everyone sign the petition above!


Lets get this thing moving!

Posted by: Bolivian DC Fan | September 24, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

The brouhaha over at Fisher's blog made me do the following quick Math from the Wikipedia entry for RFK.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rfk_stadium

Total baseball tenancy: 13 seasons
1962-1971 - Senators
2005-2007 - Nationals

Total soccer tenancy: 26 seasons
1967-1968 - Washington Whips
1971 Washington Darts
1974-1975 - Washington Diplomats
1977-1980 - Washington Diplomats
1983 Team America
1991 Washington Diplomats (USL-1)
1996-2007*- DC United
2001-2003 - Washington Freedom

* and counting

So RFK, despite the expectation of its designers, is more a soccer stadium than a baseball park. The tear-shedding over yesterdays Nats game just supports my long held belief that baseball is simply more prone to sentimentality and nostalgia than any other sport in the United States.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 24, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Not much tangible here, but at least he is acknowledging the existence of a club called DC United in the city of Washington.

Its certain if Fenty wants to keep the land RFK is on, he has to have a tenant at RFK? Plus, he's probably figured out he's giving up a sizable income from DCU's lease if they own their own stadium. My guess is he'll string United and MLS along to get want he wants (Redskins), betting on the idea that MLS won't want to give up one of its best markets.

Whatever is finally offered by the city, it will be a compromise, and it won't be the ideal situation for United. Regardless, as long as it looks like DCU gave up on the city, and not the other way around, Fenty wins.

United will get a stadium, but I'd put even money on it being outside city limits.

Posted by: cd | September 24, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

To me this is Fenty covering his backside. He can't just agree to a stadium deal - that could be seen as another city give away - after opposing the baseball stadium. He would look like a hypocrite. So he is apparently doing his due-diligence and improving his negotiating position with Macfarlane, but ultimately I bet the deal for poplar point will include a stadium - but it will require DC united to pay more than they would like.

Posted by: greene | September 24, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I'll admit that I haven't been following the poplar point fiasco all that much, but just in terms of general location I am not impressed with the site. Have we really thrown out the idea of an RFK Renovation to a SSS? I personally love the site, the history and the stadium. I would imagine we could easily do the whole thing for less than $200M (or lower) while working out a profit sharing plan or even outright ownership with DCSEC.

Is this trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, how hard is it to gut a stadium and start anew? has it ever been done?

Posted by: J-Mart | September 24, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

J-Mart, square-peg, round hole, time-consuming, and more expensive than any other option as well.

Posted by: AlecW81 | September 24, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

"Have we really thrown out the idea of an RFK Renovation to a SSS?"

As someone else mentioned, the stadium is the appetizer. The entree is large, multi-use development. No-one sees the RFK site as a candidate for that. Renovations would likely be more expensive and definitely take longer than building a new stadium. Where would DC play during the knock-down/build=up process?

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 24, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Have we really thrown out the idea of an RFK Renovation to a SSS?
_________________________________________

This is an attractive idea on paper, but two problems (at least) may be fatal:

1. DCU would need an interim home for at least one season, possibly longer, as the new stadium is being built. What venue would you propose?

2. The District would not want to foreclose the possibility of building a stadium of FedEx proportions on the RFK site to lure the Deadskins back.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 24, 2007 5:24 PM | Report abuse

270 Exit 1:

There may have been many more seasons of soccer than baseball played at RFK, but the much more meaningful comparison is the number of games played, because that dictates (a) attendance, and (b) how the field is set up.

For baseball: I get about 1053 regular season MLB games (81 games/season x 13 seasons).

For soccer: I get about 385 games (reg season: Whips 22, Darts 11, NASL Dips 80, ASL Dips 10, Freedom 32, Utd 181, x 115% for playoff games, friendlies, etc.)

Posted by: Don K | September 24, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Section 410:

1. United could use FedEx Field for one season while RFK is rebuilt. Not an ideal location, but better than any other site in the region. It's only for one season. If Dan Snyder says no way, then yes, we have issues.

2. I can't see Snyder and the D.C. government ever agreeing on how to fund a new Redskins stadium at the RFK site. Snyder is too greedy and D.C. is too wary, especially after the sweetheart baseball deal.

Posted by: SSMD | September 24, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion. Here's my "take-away" and my two cents:

Fenty probably felt some behind the scenes pressure from other developers to open up the bidding. Also, he probably feels a little vulnerable after the problems with the Nats' new park -- the escalating costs, the garages, threats to move, the periodic revolts on the Council. If he handed Poplar Point to United and MacFarlane, without taking competitve bids, he'd have some real political problems down the road.

Does this mean that United will have a chance in the bidding? Hard to say. Section 107 is correct -- United's owners aren't thinking they're going to make their profit on the stadium. These are real estate people who got in this for the development rights. Would they be satisfied if the city presented them with a bid from other parties that included a stadium? Might be better than the alternative of turning that down.

The RFK site? I doubt it will be torn down in the near future. That land isn't really much in demand right now. There's a drug rehab center just built next door. The neighborhood still hasn't seen any gentrification -- have to walk at least five blocks west. It's good for a stadium though. Right now, it's pretty good for United, and DC isn't going to kick them to the curb while they're trying to find another place to play long-term -- hopefully, in the city.

A Redskins stadium in the future? Not the near future. Snyder's pulling in too many bucks from FedEx Field right now. Jst looking at Giants Stadium as a n example, I'd have to guess its another 20 years before the 'Skins start talking with the city about coming back -- maybe that could happen in a decade, but not any sooner.

I'd expect United to play at RFK next year. Likely, plans will come together for a new SSS in that time so, it's likely that they'll play two or three years at RFK -- until they have a new site, either in the District, of in the 'burbs. Don't think they aren't looking -- United is going to come up with a Plan B.

They should aim to be metro-accessible, but the District isn't the only place that fits the bill -- in fact, I'm not too thrilled with the Poplar Point plan, as it looks to be a real hike to the Metro -- United doesn't even mention the Metro in its presentation -- only the location by the higway, and the water-taxis from the District. I'd prefer the stadium get built by the Metro, though real estate folks might see proximity to the Metro as more valuable for other uses -- for folks who work or live there (five day a week or seven day a week riders, and year-round, not once or twice a week, from April thru November).

Posted by: FischFry | September 24, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I think Fenty's comments are promising at least in that he is saying that he wants DCU in the district, whether it is at Poplar Point or not. But I'm concerned by his total lack of urgency. Apparently, proposals for the Poplar Point land are due by 10/19/07, and they plan to select a developer by the end of the year. We can wait that long before we start looking at sites in northern Virginia.

I wonder what other companies are competing for the land. Lerner Group? Peterson Companies? Douglas Development? There are a lot of local groups that might look more attractive than a group based out of the area like McFarlane's...

Posted by: Shatz | September 24, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

How many playoff baseball games have been played at RFK? 0

Re: Rebuilding at RFK.
RFK is damn near close to being condemned. You would have to tear the whole place down, clear the site, and start from scratch. Oh, but wait, when you clear it you'll also have to do a TON of environmental clean-up, then have the site cleared by the EPA.

FedEx is NOT an option.
The atmosphere would be horrendous, as United would be lucky to draw 10k out to Landover, and it would be just as bad (if not worse) as Giants Stadium for the Red Bulls.

Bottom-line: We'll be lucky if we get another 2 years of use out of RFK before the place collapses. In the best of circumstances United could complete a new Stadium at another site in 18 months... this gives United 6months MAX to break ground somewhere.

Posted by: AlecW81 | September 24, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

The RFK site option for United? I imagine that RFK could be renovated and made workable (still with narrow concourses, but otherwise modern), for less than an new stadium -- United would want to control the revenue stream, or they wouldn't sign on that. The advantage? Size could be a good thing -- the problem with the SS plan is it's short-sighted. There may come a day in the next 20 years when United might regret being stuck in a 27,000 seat SSS -- and not just when Beckham's in town.

But the sightlines suck, and the experience fo seeing games there isn't what United needs it to be to encourage sell-outs. It would have to completely rebuilt to do it better. A new stadium on the site? I think that would be ideal for the fans, and a good second choice for United, if they can't parlay the stadium into a big development project. I'm sure that FedEx would be available while it's being built, though scheduling won't be easy.

I think any stadium should be built with the pecularities of U.S. soccer fans in mind. There chould be a supporters section, for those who are going to stand, and the seating around it should be designed with that in mind -- so United doesn't rope off seats, but creates sightlines for those who want to see the game. Ya'll listening?

Posted by: FischFry | September 24, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm not too thrilled with the Poplar Point plan, as it looks to be a real hike to the Metro...
__________________________________________

In fact, the distance to the Anacostia station would be roughly comparable to the distance from RFK to the Stadium-Armory station.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 24, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

"How many playoff baseball games have been played at RFK? 0"

You win the Mister Irrelevant award for this thread.

Not that the original point, that many more soccer "seasons" have been played at RFK than baseball seasons, should have anything at all to do with the debate. It's a soccer fan playing with numbers in an insultingly facile way.

The continuity of soccer at RFK (23 seasons in 47 years, disregarding Freedom/United overlap) vs baseball (12/47) is impressive, but the NFL was played there for for 36 seasons. And in the most important stat, far more people have passed through the turnstiles for the 12 years of baseball than for the 26 seasons of all the soccer teams.

This is a losing argument for DC fans.

Posted by: Don K | September 24, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

"It's a soccer fan playing with numbers in an insultingly facile way."

Wow!
I posted the tenancy stats here and not on Fisher's blog because I wanted to avoid the tone that you seem to feel is necessary for this discussion.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 24, 2007 8:23 PM | Report abuse

"And in the most important stat, far more people have passed through the turnstiles for the 12 years of baseball than for the 26 seasons of all the soccer teams."

I guess that is a benefit to playing a game that is so UNdemanding on an athlete that you can play 81 games in a season. More games = more people = more $$$

Posted by: Andy In Asheville | September 24, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

162 games, 81 at home. You are however very accurate calling it a game, as it's far from being an actual sport.

Posted by: AlecW81 | September 24, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Fenty is a good guy in my book - I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The problem he faces is the lingering bad taste in the mouth of all DC taxpayers over the complete giveaway engineered by Williams for the baseball stadium. It's too bad, but that is the hand he has been dealt. I am confident Mayor Fenty will make a fair offer to DCU at the end of the day.

Posted by: FC | September 24, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Well, as long as we're being pedantic with attendance figures, the Senators only played a 154 game schedule, and routinely didn't play the full 154 as rainouts were not made up at the end of the season. Plus for soccer attendance add in all the DCU exhibitions and other competitions, as well as the '94 World Cup and other National team games and exhibitions.

asitis

Posted by: asitis | September 24, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

FischFry said:

Does this mean that United will have a chance in the bidding? Hard to say. Section 107 is correct -- United's owners aren't thinking they're going to make their profit on the stadium. These are real estate people who got in this for the development rights. Would they be satisfied if the city presented them with a bid from other parties that included a stadium? Might be better than the alternative of turning that down.

---

Agreed. However, if the owners bought into DCU only for the prospect of development rights, then one would expect them to design a better proposal for mass consumption than this amateur and underwhelming powerpoint: http://dcunited.mlsnet.com/t103/pdf/2007/poplar_point_presentation.pdf

I am not a graphic designer. That is the point, though: I could have designed a better powerpoint. Any halfway decent consulting or lobbying firm could have put out a better product than this. Could the problem be that DCU management is just assuming that Poplar is theirs and half-assing it to the finish line?

Posted by: hoyanick | September 24, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

"I'd expect United to play at RFK next year. Likely, plans will come together for a new SSS in that time so, it's likely that they'll play two or three years at RFK -- until they have a new site, either in the District, of in the 'burbs. Don't think they aren't looking -- United is going to come up with a Plan B."

Plan B is already in the works. I hear sites in Maryland and Northern VA are being investigated. Also a recent market study commissioned demonstrated the largest percentage (this includes the important hispanic population) is coming to RFK from Arlington and Fairfax (Northern VA).

Don't be surprised if the old Virginia baseball development plan in Loundoun is dusted off. This was also a mixed use (stadium, residential and commercial) development project. With Metro heading to Dulles, there are large tracks that could be used on Route 28 for an SSS development.

Think Toyota Park, Pizza Hut Park, etc. and you see an MLS pattern.

Posted by: DCU4EVER | September 24, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

The point of the comparing the number of seasons of baseball to soccer was seemingly to show, once again, there is not much of a connection to RFK for most baseball fans. The Nats aren't going to miss RFK because they knew it was a temporary home and did not care for the place from the start. For the most part, baseball fans in the area held the same attitude toward RFK. For local soccer fans, there is quite a bit of history in the building.

RFK is less viable as an option for United's future stadium than Poplar Point may be. The RFK site, like Poplar Point was/is, is federal land. Building a new stadium on the land without transferring the land could happen, but wouldn't DC be responsible for building the stadium and once again be leasing the stadium? I imagine the costs of renovations to RFK would be more expensive than the costs to build a new stadium. Meanwhile, where would the team play that wouldn't greatly harm the bottom line? Let's say the land transfer didn't take but a few years... Then DCU would be fighting the same battle they are currently fighting. There is no reason to believe RFK is a better or faster option for United.

Posted by: sitruc | September 24, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Loudon is not an option.

Posted by: AlecW81 | September 24, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

On a suburban stadium -- As has been noted above, it's true that in this case most of United's Hispanic fan base comes from NoVa, but there are a good number from the Maryland 'burbs, as well. Not to mention the enormous popularity of the game in the Maryland 'burbs. There's scarcely any place where more white suburban kids play the game.

MLS knows that much of its audience lives in the suburbs, but if they want to make a play for the luxury box set, they have to be convenient to DC law firms. The reason why it's preferable to have a stadium in the city is the hub and spoke nature of the Metro (as well as the highways, with the exception of the Beltway) -- the system is directed inward into the city, and it's one helluva trip for surburbanites on one spoke to go into the city and then back out agin on another spoke.

Even if big chunks of the fan base are in the suburbs (Hispanics in NoVa, affluent whites in Maryland), the District is still the best place to put the team. Look what's happened with the Red Bulls. There's a lot of soccer fans living in New Jersey, but not enough to make it to games. A team in New York City would draw better, even from the suburbs -- look at all the suburban types that go to bseball games in New York (Don't bring up the Cosmos because that was freakish - I know because I was a suburban New Yorker who went out to Giants Stadium for games).

DC is a lot like New York in that way. Most of the fans at baseball games in New York are not from Queens or the Bronx. It's not so important to locate the stadium near the supppsed fan base. United is definitely looking at suburban sites, but they have to believe that its better to locate in the District, where fans from all over the region can come easily.

Posted by: FischFry | September 24, 2007 11:37 PM | Report abuse

"162 games, 81 at home. You are however very accurate calling it a game, as it's far from being an actual sport."

Obviously I am a huge baseball fan..that's what happens when you grew supporting the Royals.

That being said, do MLS teams get a cut of away game ticket sales? Or is this point moot due to the single entity structure of MLS?

Do any pro league teams get a cut of away game ticket sales? I know some college teams are often paid hefty sums to make certain appearances...and they don't always have to be good teams.

Posted by: Andy In Asheville | September 24, 2007 11:41 PM | Report abuse

I really love to wear flip-flops but hate listening to them.

Posted by: Dave | September 25, 2007 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Man I hate politicians!

There are rumblings that US Soccer and MLS are going to invest big bucks in RFK. Such a simple solution - screw DC out of developing Poplar Point and get US Soccer an east coast stadium. Now that the Craps - pardon me - the Nats are out of the DC United stadium this could be a reality.

Posted by: bobF | September 25, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Fenty, you are complete scumbag. United has been nothing but a partner in this whole process and pays a ridiculous amount of rent for RFK and you rewarded loyalty by essentially stabbing us in the back. How long have we waited for this stadium.

If you are a friend of United, I would hate to meet our enemies.

Posted by: Jay | September 25, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

"DC is a lot like New York in that way. Most of the fans at baseball games in New York are not from Queens or the Bronx"

Wrong, wrong, wrong. If you think for one second that the majority of yankees fans at a game come from anywhere but the 5 boroughs, you have never been there nor been on the 4, 5, 6 train on gameday.

For the DC Stadium, it could be outside the city if it were in college park, Arlinton or Rosslyn, anywhere else and you can watch that fanbase drop. This is not a knock on the suburban supporters, they are about half. But half of those from VA and half from MD, so you'll take a hit in one of those once you choose, and you'll take a hit in DC support too.

Posted by: DCAustinite | September 25, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

SEE BELOW a response to an email I wrote to Mayor Fenty after his appearance on the Aug. 30th local NBC morning show. I questioned his statement about tearing down RFK once the Nats left; wondering what DCUnited would do? Funny thing - I never mentioned Poplar Point in my email....
draw your own conclusions!

"Thank you for your email regarding DC United and the building of a new soccer stadium at Poplar Point. Please be advised that this site is owned by the National Park Service and is managed by the Government of the District of Columbia for sports purposes only. Any future plans for this site will be subject to a Master Planning Process. The community leaders and residents will be kept abreast of the plans as they unfold."

Sincerely,
Adrian Fenty
Mayor

Posted by: Winchester | September 25, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

He's telling you what you want to hear. Get ready for Reston United.

Posted by: Shane MacGowan's Teeth | September 25, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Well, as long as we're being pedantic with attendance figures, the Senators only played a 154 game schedule, and routinely didn't play the full 154 as rainouts were not made up at the end of the season. Plus for soccer attendance add in all the DCU exhibitions and other competitions, as well as the '94 World Cup and other National team games and exhibitions.

asitis

Posted by: asitis | September 24, 2007 09:36 PM

----------------------

Actually, the American League started using the 162 game season in 1961...the year before the Senators moved into D.C. Stadium. So, the Senators actually would have been scheduled to play 81 home games during their entire time at D.C./RFK Stadium. Not sure why the number of games matters though - the number of years as a tenant seems like a more reasonable measure of tenure.

Posted by: DE | September 25, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Asitis:

"Well, as long as we're being pedantic with attendance figures, the Senators only played a 154 game schedule, and routinely didn't play the full 154 as rainouts were not made up at the end of the season."

No, they didn't play a 154 game schedule. Remember Roger Maris' asterisk, which came from playing a 162 game schedule? That was in 1961, when the Senators started.

But you're right about the non-made up games. I counted: it's ten games. So that's 1043, but there were two all-star games plus 16 exhibitions in the "dead time": 1061.

I failed to count Team America's 15 games in the soccer numbers, though in the 15% estimate for extra soccer games, I feel that I have accounted for the odd friendlies and US soccer games. Let's call it an even 400.

The numbers just don't compare.

The main thing is that anyone and everyone knows that a season of soccer sells fewer tickets than a season of baseball. Hell, even this year, the Nationals' average crowd of 24,217 beats out DCU's excellent average of a bit more than 20,000. 20% more people go to the average Nationals game than to the average DCU game. Over the course of the season, a MILLION AND A HALF more butts are in seats at Nationals games than for DCU.

To imply that soccer has more of a place in DC is arrogant. To blatantly distort the facts to demand a District stadium for the soccer team is insulting and does NOT serve your case well.

DCU is an essential part of the sports fabric in this area. Hell, it's nice to have a team that wins. DCU is important to a lot of people, and a good stadium plan will be a win-win. But stop misportraying reality to get what you want-- even a fool can see through it, and there are enough fools in DC government that it'll burn you.

Posted by: Don K | September 25, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

DE:

The number of games says something about the number of people passing through turnstiles, which is what creates a constituency for a team and gives it more leverage in asking for help getting a stadium.

That said, the Senators couldn't draw flies. But to count the freaking ASL Dips as significant for this discussion is warped and disingenuous, as is giving double-time in tenure for the Freedom and DCU's sharing of RFK.

Posted by: Don K | September 25, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I would not be a fan of a stadium in Loudoun County. But Arlington would be pretty sweet... Potentially lots of great places to after-party within walking distance

Posted by: Shatz | September 25, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Within 2 years the District will decide to tear down RFK and DCU will be sharing a Stadium with the Nats again. Only this time the Stadium will not be Soccer Friendly.

Posted by: Johnny | September 25, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

No chance. Worst case scenario is a year or two in crummy, atmosphere-less FedEx before a stadium is built. But looking at the crowds United draws, a stadium built at the right price-- I know this is heresy, but even NoVa or Montgomery County-- will be a cash cow.

Look folks, among MLS teams, only Toronto has really got a grade A location for their stadium, and they did it in an entirely different, and more socialized, country... AND the stadium tied into the national team. DCU won't get money from the USSF to build a national stadium (among other things, Sunil Gulati, who draws a paycheck from Gillette Stadium owner, and RFK competitor for US games, Bob Kraft, won't allow it to happen).

I guess NY got their first choice in Harrison, but that shows just what they aspire to.

So be happy with a stadium near ANY Metro stop. There's probably not a District politician, including, especially, Marion Barry, who sincerely gives a damn about this.

Posted by: Don K | September 25, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Within 2 years the District will decide to tear down RFK and DCU will be sharing a Stadium with the Nats again. Only this time the Stadium will not be Soccer Friendly.

Posted by: Johnny | September 25, 2007 05:16 PM
__________________________________________

That depends on the terms of the contract between the Nats and the District; specifically, whether the Nats can be forced to share their venue with secondary tenants of any sort (or whether they would do so voluntarily). The District government has no open-ended obligation to find a home for DCU somewhere, anywhere in the District; its obligation ends with the most recently negotiated lease extension for RFK.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 25, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

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