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Goodbye, Poplar Point?

First, Gallardo leaves. Now it appears D.C. United's hopes of a stadium at Poplar Point are dead.

Read about it here.

Much more, I suspect, on this issue in Saturday's Metro section print edition (available online later tonight).

UPDATE: Click here to read the complete, detailed story.


By Steve Goff  |  January 30, 2009; 5:49 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Posted by: strago | January 30, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

The sub-title of that article on the Home Page reads: Soccer Stadium talk dies. What soccer stadium talk? It's been dead ever since the contract was awarded to Clark. Did anyone here think that DC was really going to get a stadium at Poplar Point under the Clark proposal?

If anything, this may put Poplar point back on the table for MacFarlane.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 30, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I was interpreting it the same way I-270. Might we see Fenty come crawling back to MacFarlane and CO as primary developers?

Posted by: strago | January 30, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Move the DC National Guard to Fort McNair or Bolling Air Force Base, take a wrecking ball to the Armory, and build the stadium there.

Posted by: Juan-John | January 30, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Pelosi (who is Vic's Rep, right?) can earmark that $200 million that was originally for condoms in the stimulus package, and put it toward a new stadium instead?

Posted by: OWNTF | January 30, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I know this has probably been addressed, but...What about purchasing RFK from the city and completely renovating the stadium?

Put in a few million and perhaps a nicer stadium will emerge that doesn't have to be rented for a loss.

Posted by: redskinsux | January 30, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

From the redundancy department department: I think it's way too soon to prejudge. My guess is the next developer will probably not be MacFarlane, but another developer might need more of a partnership -- a certain anchor to the rest of the project.

Posted by: fischy | January 30, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Move the DC National Guard to Fort McNair or Bolling Air Force Base, take a wrecking ball to the Armory, and build the stadium there.

Posted by: Juan-John | January 30, 2009 6:01 PM

But then where would the circus go? (Assuming they still have it there)

Posted by: hokieunited | January 30, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I also interpreted the article like I-270, Exit 1 and strago interpreted the article. An opportunity seems to have presented itself to McFarlane.

Posted by: B_A_ | January 30, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering about this piece, regarding the plan to develop "Hill East" -- the land south of RFK and the Armory:

Maybe, under today's climate, those plans are a bit ambitious. Would anyone want to shoehorn a soccer stadium there -- maybe over some of the parking spaces and a parcel of the planned development? If they're going to rebuild RFK for the 'Skins, they can't be too upset at the notion of putting in another stadium that would share the parking and the Metro. I can't think of a better spot. It would cost less and would take up far less land that might be put to other uses.

Or build where the Armory is...

Posted by: fischy | January 30, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Right on OWNTF! The Soccer Stadium is shovel ready....meaning I now a few fans who would be willing to bring their shovels. We'd need an architect and a couple of engineers though.

Posted by: LostinPotomac | January 30, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

From Wikipedia:

"Mayor Adrian Fenty has stated he is preparing a written proposal to the Redskins ownership to bring the team back to the District [2]"

Specifically, tearing down RFK and replacing it with a stadium for the Skins.

Why doesn't D.C. United get any preferential treatment, especially because D.C. has been looking for a site and new stadium for much longer than the Redskins have.

Also, didn't Mr. Fenty say, "And I am going to make it a priority to help you build that stadium."?

Posted by: redskinsux | January 30, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Because United are minnows compared to the Redskins.

Posted by: alecw81 | January 30, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I hope the team moves out of the area. Moving to PG County would mean the end anyway, so just go to St. Louis or Ottawa or some other city that wants them.

Posted by: Hoost | January 30, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Build the stadium on the purple line as part of the economic stimulus.

Posted by: Curious99 | January 30, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

No one is going to start building a new stadium in this economy unless the funding has already been lined up. DC just needs to settle into RFK and expect to be there for at least a few more years.

Posted by: hacksaw | January 30, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I can live with this.

Posted by: sitruc | January 30, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I think Fenty has already hinted at what he wants from the stimulus package, OWNTF. The major projects that people will notice are the 11th St Bridge and the South Capitol St Bridge.

Posted by: sitruc | January 30, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

This is the worst off-season ever.

Posted by: lastort1 | January 30, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I think hacksaw is right.

What concerns me is that I understood MacFarlane to be part of the financial muscle behind Clark.

If so, what does this say about MacFarlane's ability to find the investors for the stadium and related development.

I do wonder what his current investment advisory relationship with CALpers is, given that a land deal he got them involved in in California went way South last year...

Not good times at all...

Posted by: seahawkdad | January 30, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Seems like an appropriate time to post this again:

"Thank you Kevin for this D.C. United jersey and congratulations on your terrific season. It is great to see over 20,000 fans here at RFK supporting D.C. United. It is my hope that your fans will soon be coming to your brand new soccer stadium at Poplar Point in Anacostia. World class fans, and a world class team like D.C. United, deserve a world class stadium. And I am going to make it a priority to help you build that stadium. Thank you -- congratulations and good luck to the Black-and-Red!"

-Adrian Fenty on Oct 29 2006 (right before a mayoral elction mind you)

link to full article:

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 30, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I just want them to build a stadium so they can turn a profit at some point in the distant future. I don't see why it is so complicated. If the city won't play build it outside of the city. What's the problem?

Posted by: bighungry | January 30, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I've been grumbling about tearing down RFK, build a new stadium there. Oh, that's right, Fenty wants to bring the skins back.

As much of a fan as I am of the skins, they don't deserve to come back to DC. Not until that d-bag Snyder no longer owns them.

Posted by: dogboy | January 30, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm a huge Obama supporter. His worst attribute is that he's a friend of Fenty's. I have a hard time dealing with this issue.

Posted by: Hoost | January 30, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

This is basically the same conclusion that Arthur Blank and Atlanta came to -- now is not the time to develop a stadium, condos, storefronts, etc.

Posted by: Reignking | January 30, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I think it is safe to say that United will be calling RFK home for the better part of the next decade or so. The economy just will not support a new soccer stadium now. Hopefully things will change, but I am going to get comfortable in sec 204.

Posted by: jjfooty | January 30, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, whereever they build a stadium, there should definitely be a Super Pollo next door.

Posted by: bigwave | January 30, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Should I continue urging my father to harass Fenty during local 10Ks? They have started near each other on at least 4 occasions. Fenty does keep a much stronger pace.

Maybe this is motivation to get myself back in true playing shape: to be able to run 7:30/mile over a 10K and spend the entire time badgering the mayor about the stadium.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | January 30, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Fenty is a weasel. Forget D.C., move on to some place that wants a stadium. If DCU relocates due to this, I will put a curse on Fenty and the next 20 generations of Fentys however. And don't think the money grubbing Lerners and their "dispute" over the new baseball stadium doesn't adversely affect DCU's attempts to get a stadium in the District. It makes me sick to see the Red Bull stadium going up next to the train tracks in Harrison everytime I go by on the train.

Posted by: griffin1108 | January 30, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

You should get your father a T-shirt with the oft-quoted Fenty statement on Poplar Point printed on it. You might have to cut it down a little.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 30, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't D.C. United get any preferential treatment, especially because D.C. has been looking for a site and new stadium for much longer than the Redskins have?

Posted by: redskinsux | January 30, 2009 6:23 PM


Ummm because the Redskins are one of the most valuable sports franchises in America and has a fan base that is several orders of magnitude larger than DCU's?

All I'm saying is be realistic about the primacy of the Redskins in the DC area.

Posted by: edgeonyou | January 30, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

how is anyone shocked at this development? Ijust hope the team stays in this area. Thankfully, the fan-base here is to large to just abandon.

Posted by: torrey151 | January 30, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

I personally love grilling and chillin' in lot 8. RFK is a mess, but as I've asked before isn't there some way we can just improve the place and make the best of it till things change?
I'll tell you what, if they even tried to improve the concessions by 1% they'd probably increase revenue by 10%...
Solar panelling to decrease the stadiums drain on power in the area, or at least improving the chances of the lights not going out in the rain?
3rd Jersey to increase funds... Marketing!
Install some bike racks to attract a greener crowd... I bet more people would ride if there were any places safe to lock up! Have VW and WABA sponsor a bike light give away at a game. Not to be profiling but I bet you'd get more latinos using lights for their bikes if you handed them out at games...Instead of some lame bike to work event, that these folks can't attend because they're riding their bikes as fast as they can to get to work!
Open up a some pubs on the stadiums grounds! Johnsonville Brat Haus!!!! Or get Ben's Chili Bowl up in the mother!
If they provide a more enjoyable experience at RFK more people will come again.
Tarp up parts of the upper deck seats with advertising! Not freebies to VW! Sell the space! Sounders are experimenting with tarping upper level seating with generic stuff. Why not sell it on the cheap, make a couple bucks. Get in the Black and out of the Red for the Black and Red!

Maybe the ownership will be able to move forward with Clark out of the picture and the crooked controversy up in Green Belt.
The club would do better in DC. We might as well continue to make the best of it where it's at anyway though right!?

Posted by: DadRyan | January 30, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Did I really write greener?:-)

Posted by: DadRyan | January 30, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

jjfooty is right to note that nothing is going to get planned or built any time soon -- not in this market. I'm sure Victor can't lay his hands on those kinds of funds right now.

griffin1108 ought to take a closer look at Red Bull Arena supposedly going up in Harrison. It ain't happening now, either. They're hoping to have it built for the 2010 season, but don't hold your breath on that one, either.

Posted by: fischy | January 31, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

DCU should try to negotiate better terms with the city and improve RFK. The economy is too shaky right now for anything else. For the same reason I wouldn't look for anything with the city and the Skins to develop either.

Posted by: croftonpost | January 31, 2009 12:53 AM | Report abuse

""I personally love grilling and chillin' in lot 8. RFK is a mess, but as I've asked before isn't there some way we can just improve the place and make the best of it till things change?""

That is what I am talkin bout!>!

RFK rocks. You folks who don't recognize the significance and the prestige and the Championships that come with game at RFK shouldn't bother at all . . .

It has a long history . . . a distinguished history from the Redskins, to the US National Team thrashing of Mexico 4-0, to the Olympics, to 4 MLS CUP United seasons . .. . the place will be fine for you and our sons and daughters, who cares about Poplar?>!!!!

Not me.

Posted by: delantero | January 31, 2009 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Umm fischy the Red Bull stadium is under construction -- you can see it quite clearly just after the train crosses the river from Newark to Harrison on the way to New York and everytime I pass, someone has been adding to the structure. While they may have some construction delays, there is a stadium site and construction is underway and continuing. Unlike here.

Posted by: griffin1108 | January 31, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

I think that if Clark pulling out was due to something unique to Clark, then yes, the District would look for another developer, and V Mac et al would be back in the picture. But this economic climate makes it hard for any company to take these huge risks.

The picture just does not look good for the near term for a new stadium-

-The District seems to be incompetent or willfully obstructive in partnering with any developer. It takes two (or three or more) to tango...

-In their defense, the district was burned badly by the thievery of MLB/Lerners, and is rightly cautious. Fool me once...

-Other parties don't help the process, but this is always the case in any development. From NIMBYs who may have a legit gripe to grifters cloaked as community defenders...

- and what it up with the Post AGAIN with the line about $225 million in District money for the stadium alone? What is the source for this? How can the contribution from the District be nearly or more than the cost of the stadium, even when it has been clear that the owners will be kicking in a significant piece of the cost, too?

So, like other have said here, let's all get used to the charms of RFK for years to come. It may not be the latest and greatest, buy hey, at least it's got tradition!

Posted by: CDRHoek | January 31, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

anyone who undertakes a major development before depression part II, should have their head examined. of course the developer pulled out. of course the city said that they had to put up the money.

it's not the time for major developments. I feel sorry for those projects that are still underway. good luck renting/selling that inventory.

Posted by: mizage | January 31, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

The only way forward is spontaneous privatization of RFK. Cut off the locks and throw out anybody connected with the Stadium Authority. Get members of Screaming Eagles/Barra Brava/La Norte to rotate in occupying the premises. Declare Lot 8 an autonomous free republic. The People have spoken!

Posted by: big_spaniel | January 31, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

RFK doesn't rock. Forget the concessions problems nd the lack of money-making suites. The sight lines aren't good -- a lot of seats don't really even face the field at good angles -- and the quiet side seats are waaayyyyy to far from the field. Even, for the players, it must be very unpleasant walking through tunnels filled with big puddles and rats. It's barely seviceable in any way. It may take a lot of years befoe DCU finds another place to play, but it will be a blessed day when they do.

Posted by: fischy | January 31, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Fischy is right: RFK is a dump and DCU is losing millions. The longer they stay, the worse the financial situation of the club will get. It is becoming urgent. Throw away the RFK nostalgia, folks -- DCU needs a new stadium very soon.

Posted by: Steve Goff | January 31, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

ALRIGHT THEN STEVE! What's your suggestion? Fold the team because this just isn't happening? Move em to Portland?
I thought I'd read of a bunch of controversy about the development in Greenbelt. Now if it isn't BS that the District is going to move forward with preparing the land at Poplar Point, isn't this a great time for someone else to step to the plate with the development?

Posted by: DadRyan | January 31, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Steve!
It just feels like this is a total DEAD END and I might as well figure out how to move back to Seattle and start supporting a team that's not going to fold in the next two years.
Nothing ever gets done in DC. Spend money on presidential motorcades while the schools crumble and the neighborhoods rot.
God Bless America.

Posted by: DadRyan | January 31, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Yet another reason why I have pulled my funding and fundraising efforts out of anything DC government give them anything or tell other people to give anything would mean investing in liars and cheats.

Posted by: dpowellutkedu | January 31, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Poplar Point has apparently been dead to DC United for a while. From the sponsorship presentation to VW:
"D.C. United will build its soccer stadium in a public/private partnership in Prince George’s County, Maryland. It will be one of the largest soccer specific stadiums in the country, with approximately 25,000 seats and the ability to expand up to 31,000+. The stadium will be a multi-use facility and will be a catalyst for other development interests. It will feature European-style stadium architecture and will host international soccer competitions, concerts, and other entertainment events."

So, since United will no longer be a DC team, perhaps a name change to follow the lead of all of the other DC area sports teams: Washington United? Fenty ought not to have the pleasure of any team bearing 'DC'.

Posted by: seahawkdad | January 31, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

It's not so much nostalgia, it's simply an acceptance of the recent turn of events and our stadium.

As a fan, RFK would be better than a new stadium that is difficult to access from VA--and forget about weeknight games.

Moreover, an urban stadium would be hugely profitable. Much more so than a suburban one . . as evidenced by Frisco, etc.

And why can't they renegotiate with the Stadium Authority/DC Sports Commission?!?! If Fenty wants to keep United, then giving us some more reign over RFK would be an easy option.

Posted by: delantero | January 31, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Declare Lot 8 an autonomous free republic. The People have spoken!

Posted by: big_spaniel | January 31, 2009 9:57 AM

Que Viva Lot 8! Que Viva La Revolucion!

Posted by: delantero | January 31, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

so what, exactly, is the good news from the off-season this year? hmm. olsen's (perhaps) improving health? can't think of much else... goal keeper injury woes, lack of a playmaker, uncertain/unproven defense, no new stadium anytime soon...

Posted by: AndyinDupont | January 31, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Talking about renovating and improving RFK is as much a waste of time as believing that the club will replace Moreno with Messi.

The "losing millions" that SG mentions is the key here. The money lost renting RFK and giving up game day revenues to the Stadium Authority (along with the age of the facility and the possibility of the city tossing everyone out if/when Snyder decides to move to the city) will ensure that no improvements are made from ownership's end. Let's not forget that, despite their enthusiasm and interest in the club, MacFarlane and Chang primarily bought DC United to get in on developing Poplar Point or some other city development with a stadium as its hub. I strongly doubt they're interested in fixing up RFK, because there's no mixed-use development happening there.

The Stadium Authority has made it abundantly clear that they're not putting a cent into the stadium. RFK will remain as is, save for changes to the hanging ads/posters inside and outside. If there is rain within 3 days of a game or on gameday, be ready for power outages.

I love the history of the place. My first thought upon entering other stadiums always seems to be "This place lacks character" (save Camden Yards, which was somehow built with character in the mortar). Most stadiums come across as a place of commerce, rather than a place where winners and losers will be decided on the field. RFK has always felt like a stadium whose primary existence is sport, not advertising. However, DCU can't afford to stay there much longer without having to find a new owner. The team, despite being MLS's model franchise in terms of the playing side of things, is a money pit at RFK. In a new stadium, in or out of DC, we probably turn a small profit (if FC Dallas can profit with their "12K" attendances, I'd imagine we'd have no problem).

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | January 31, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I think that the prospects for building a stadium in DC or in PG County anytime soon would seem slim. That's why I think we, as fans, will just have to accept RFK for the next several years to come. I've come to hate the phrase, but "it is what it is."

It is a different story for the ownership, as no question RFK is a money pit for all the reasons expressed here. Losing money on rent, power failures, no money for parking, ads, concessions, and luxury boxes, etc, plus the losses to the brand image due to the power losses and the perception of an undetermined deadline to get out if DC wants the land for the football team to move back all suck.

But unless our attendance costs the team more than our ticket covers, we should all try to keep going to RFK and support the team as best we can there. even though it is a less-than-ideal situation.

Just beware the falling concrete chunks! And the rats...and the brownouts,,,

Posted by: CDRHoek | February 1, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Under the MLS ownership structure, all the other so-called investor/operators share in DCU's losses. Conversely, the financial hit that MacFarlane, Chang, et al. are taking is cushioned by their (small) share of whatever profits other MLS franchises might make. If United doesn't have a plan to turn things around anytime soon, you have to wonder whether the patience of the other owners has its limits.

Posted by: universityandpark | February 1, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry is not happy with the situation at Poplar Point

Posted by: lastort1 | February 2, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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