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Problems With DCU Stadium Plan

There seems to be a constitutional issue with today's House Appropriations Committee vote in Annapolis.


By Steve Goff  |  March 30, 2009; 9:37 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Comments

Two baby steps backwards?

Posted by: mbetka23 | March 30, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

This is like Keystone Cops.

And for all the lambasting of the DC City Council, I have to say that the MD side is pretty hilarious. Ineptitude comes to mind.

Exhibit A: Payne said on WTOP that he thought there was confusion as to what the committee voted on last time when the voted 0 for 5 against recommending this study.

Exhibit B: Today, the Maryland Moment Blog depicted the MD legislature as repeatedly asking the same basic question as to whether or not this meant ok to fund the stadium . . . .

Now we get a bill that is reportedly unconstitutional and not one of the 24 elected members of the MD legislature knows this fact??!!

West Wing, it's not.

Posted by: delantero | March 30, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

""The "left-leaning" Arlington County Board includes among its members some pretty big DC United fans.""

Yup. And Walter Tejada plays pick up all the time at the turf field over by Pentagon City Mall. Dude's got some skills too.

Heretofore as of today . .

A) PLENTY OF SPACE IN NOVA for a stadium (there's like 50 in London alone --- a 25,000 seat stadium is smaller than most Texas high school football stadiums), but

B) It's not about a just stadium, it's about McFarlane/Payne's Real Estate Development Deal. To say so otherwise is bull poop. And whereas

C) To say DC United looked for a stadium in NOVA is inaccurate---They looked for a development deal---and most stuff along transit lines is developed herein . .

D) It's time everyone wake up to that fact and call the owners out. If you think PG County is a good idea for United, great. But to ignore the ulterior motives is ignorant.

Posted by: delantero | March 30, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

d'oh

Posted by: doh1 | March 30, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

It's funny that delantero brought up but I have been thinking about this for a while that we need to find new owners for the team.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | March 30, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm still with Delantro on this. the MLS "model for success" doesn't include ancillary development, just that the teams control their revenue streams by owning their facilities themselves. this charade with PG county is becoming tiresome...

Posted by: VTUnited | March 30, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

How dare our team's owners seek to make money! Say, didn't they get bonuses last year?

Posted by: notafembot | March 30, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

"It's funny that delantero brought up but I have been thinking about this for a while that we need to find new owners for the team."

Or a new mayor. I think the benefits of staying in D.C. are inexhaustible.

Can't we all just go to Mayor Fenty's next public speech and protest (and chant if needed) for a stadium in D.C.? D.C. United presence would definitely get some P.R. and it would also put pressure on Fenty.

Posted by: redskinsux | March 30, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

As Lee Corso says...."Not so fast, my friend!!!"

Posted by: SonicDeathMonkey | March 30, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

I keep hearing rumors of Fenty becoming some sort of ambassador... He won't be the mayor if that happens...

Posted by: DadRyan | March 30, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Where are the feasible Virginia locations? There's space in northern Virginia, but that doesn't mean there is realistic/available space. There are few easily accessible areas that could support a stadium. Those that are already have plans for development. Even if they didn't, they wouldn't get past NIMBY. I'd agree that the owners would prefer to have a stake in the surrounding development, but we don't know what they want with current plans. Poplar Point originally was development, but it was just the stadium in the end befor Clark plans fell apart. If MacFarlane wants to develop around the stadium that's good for him, but none of the language of the current legislation includes that so it's not fair to say the group is only in it for development. Right now they're in it for a location that will actually get fans to show up. Just building a stadium anywhere won't attract fans.

Also, out of boredom I was looking up Texas high school football stadiums last week. No stadium regularly used for high school football seats near 25,000. Only three stadiums used for high school are 20,000 or above and the average for the state is 3,823.

There are several reasons why London can have a lot of stadiums. I'd start with a population with around 8 million in a land area larger 10 times larger than DC.

Posted by: sitruc | March 30, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it clearly states in the Maryland constitution, in section 2...

"No money shall be given to those flaming persons who practice kicking balls for profit. Upon them, ensure that the wrath and full might of political ignorance shall fall upon them, that they may be shamed before" etc. etc. etc.

Oh, sorry, we just don't like you. Early April Fools!

Posted by: UnitedDemon | March 30, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

In the words of Hank Hill


"DANG-it"

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | March 30, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

This is a procedural error by the legislators. It is not the death knell the author of the article states it is. Does this stink? Of course it does, but is there anybody out there that thinks DC United is going to quit because of their stupidity. At the very worst the theme becomes 2013 for First Kick. No way DC United walks away because of this. They have too much invested in this and today was much more positive than negative in the long run.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 30, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

If MacFarlane wants to develop around the stadium that's good for him

Posted by: sitruc | March 30, 2009 11:06 PM

Sitruc, thanks for doing some research on TX HIGH SCHOOL football. I am prone to hyperbole now and again! But the point was that the footprint for a soccer specific stadium is small. It is not like FEDEX. It might work in NOVA.

"If MacFarlane wants to develop around the stadium that's good for him"

But is it good for United? I doubt, although remain hopeful, that the profits will go back into the club.

Posted by: delantero | March 30, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

"There are several reasons why London can have a lot of stadiums. I'd start with a population with around 8 million in a land area larger 10 times larger than DC."

But NOVA (pop~ 2-3 million, 2000 square miles (?)), not DC (pop. ~ 600K, 10 square miles), could easily fit one, tiny soccer stadium.

Posted by: delantero | March 31, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

I was certain I wouldn't have to go into the differences between northern Virginia and London to get my point across so I threw that in at the end....
While I addressed your hyperbole at the end of my post, you missed the beginning of my post, delantero.

Posted by: sitruc | March 31, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Tell you the truth I have no faith in anything right now. If it isn't one thing, its another.
I think DC will start dancing around with the PG officials for the next two years just like they did with the DC council.
but one good news out of all this...

I just saved a bunch of money by switching to Geico. LOL!

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | March 31, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

My concern with a stadium in Landover/Largo can be stated quite simply:

Abe Pollin built an Arena out there, and then jumped at the chance to build one in DC and move the teams back in. Cooke built a stadium for the Redskins out there, and by all reports, the new owner wants to build a new one in DC. If Landover is such a great place for a team, why do they all want to move back in to the city?

Part of it is just being part of urban cool. But, there must be more to it. DCU wants revenue from the luxury suites. I'm sure the Redskins can do that, but maybe it's not as easy for smaller teams to sell suites to games out there. Of course, DCU would not be able to get a downtown stadium in any case -- but a new stadium by the Nationals' park, or by RFK would be an easier sell. It's possible that Anacostia would be, too -- I guess tailgaiting there would be easier than it would be across the bridge, in DC.

For those who want a stadium in Virginia -- it would be slightly better than PG, but only marginally so. It's still not in the District -- and no site would be particularly close to downtown.

I've got my fingers crossed that the PG stadium gambit works, but I'm holding out hope that DC jumps back into the picture if it hits a serious snag.

Posted by: fischy | March 31, 2009 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Exhibit A: Payne said on WTOP that he thought there was confusion as to what the committee voted on last time when the voted 0 for 5 against recommending this study.

Exhibit B: Today, the Maryland Moment Blog depicted the MD legislature as repeatedly asking the same basic question as to whether or not this meant ok to fund the stadium . . . .

Now we get a bill that is reportedly unconstitutional and not one of the 24 elected members of the MD legislature knows this fact??!!

West Wing, it's not.

Posted by: delantero | March 30, 2009 9:49 PM
-------------------------------------------

Exhibit C - delantero needs to be more careful

The 0-5 vote referred to was not in a General Assembly committee. It was a committee of the Prince George's City Council, which doesn't even have the real stadium bill in front of it.

As for the bill that passed the Appropriations Cmte before the problem was picked up -- that was just the one committee. The 24 members of the committee are about one-sixth of the entire legislature.

However, legislatures make mistakes. Not long ago, Virginia had to have a special session to correct one law, which was written to have the opposite effect of what they had intended when they voted for it. It happens. It happens even more with a part-time legislature.

It's not the end of the world. Presumably, the committee can agree on a bill draft that won't have this problem. After that, it should pass the whole House. Then, if DCU can find some friendly senators, they will get a hearing in that body -- and the bill will pass.

Posted by: fischy | March 31, 2009 1:45 AM | Report abuse

This mornings, 8 am, I'll be at Poplar Point digging. Who's with me?

Posted by: DonDraper | March 31, 2009 2:16 AM | Report abuse

Depends. Is it too late for bulbs?

Posted by: sitruc | March 31, 2009 3:20 AM | Report abuse

No, I'll bring the lights and meet you there in 30 minutes. Then we'll have time to stop by Fenty's office in the morning to show our progress.

Posted by: redskinsux | March 31, 2009 3:34 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Maryland's government should wait to screw up the DCU stadium after they finish screwing up slots at Laurel....

Posted by: hawknt | March 31, 2009 5:50 AM | Report abuse

sad to say it, but I think the days are numbered for our DC United.

Posted by: torrey151 | March 31, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Delantero--you're way off-base here on the Virginia comments.

First, let me say that I live in Northern Virginia. I'd love nothing more than for DC United to be a 5-10 minute drive from me. I too am not excited about a PG County location (though I can live with it).

Second, Goff is spot-on when he says that DC United looked exhaustively at Northern Virginia. Gang, this was PRE-McFarlene and Chang. DCU has a bunch of sites picked out. Some were not even close by metro. Community reaction and covenants killed them ALL. Seriously. There are soccer fields in Fairfax County and McLean that have been sued by communities because the lights are on at night, because of the traffic that was generated for a regular season U10/U12 game. DC United simply couldn't get around too many community restrictions around traffic, use at night, crowds in neighborhoods. And the FCBS were generally behind DCU on this one because United was going to put in a bunch of youth fields as well. AND...there was NO mixed use, no mall, no condos, no offices. Just a stadium for DCU, a practice/team facility, and youth fields. Payne was the driver behind this and after this fell apart completely, DCU went back to looking in the city and that is where Poplar Point was identified as an option.

Posted by: JoeW1 | March 31, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

delantero, I think your state of residence is causing you to be willfully ignorant about the political realities on the ground. Outside of Arlington County, the rules in Virginia are far more NIMBY-friendly than the rules in DC and MD. As we know, there is no place for a stadium in Arlington. As JoeW1 said, there have been lots of lawsuits thrown around over youth games that go on after 7pm or something in Virginia. In Maryland, the rules are set up so that once a certain transparent process is followed, it is very hard and rare for a NIMBY to reverse it in court. Witness the fact that the debacle of the ICC is still going forward despite plenty of opposition and lawsuits.

As for our legislature, they're actually pretty efficient for the most part. They tend to get to the issues on the agenda. The error about the constitutionality of the study was accidentally done as an attempt to make the bill as politically palpable to as many legislators as possible. It was to make sure that the legislature had fiscal control over costs. That's what legislatures do. It just so happened that this process of oversight wasn't constitutional. It happens. I highly doubt that any human institution is perfect. Even your vaunted Virginia legislature. I'm not trying to knock Virginia. It's a perfectly nice state and I visit it often to visit some nice friends. Just lose the indignation over the stadium being built in Maryland.

Look, I live in Maryland and would be quite willing to take the Metro or even drive to Arlington, Fairfax, or Alexandria to watch DC United. (Loudoun or Prince William would be a bit iffy but that would be equivalent to moving the team to downtown Baltimore for you in terms of distance and time. If that happened, I'd probably suck it up and just pay for the gasoline and get over it.) So, let's get past this obsession about having it in Virginia. It's been beaten to death and it's not happening. Inside the beltway Prince George's is a whole lot closer than St. Louis or some other city.

Posted by: Cavan9 | March 31, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

snap...the baby fell over backwards and hit its head and is icu! :(

Posted by: dfunkt | March 31, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

"Exhibit C - delantero needs to be more careful."

Fischy, the comment about a committee voting 5-0 against recommending the study was accurate. I knew exactly what committee it was and so do most people following this folly.

"As we know, there is no place for a stadium in Arlington." Perhaps if you are looking at 37 acres complexes, sure. According to the Pentagon City/C. City development site there's 5 million square feet available . . i.e. just S of Army Navy drive, next to Pentagon Centre and North of where that Urgent Care place is/was . . big open lot. Big enough for an SSS. Start from scratch. Rethink your ideas of how much space you need to build.

""I think your state of residence is causing you to be willfully ignorant about the political realities on the ground. "" Not really. The ignorant ones are those in the MD legislature that passed an unconstitutional bill, the PG County committee that voted against the study 5-0 b/c they thought it was going to say ok to fund the stadium, and the repeated questions regarding the bill yesterday.

Am I missing anything or being willfully ignorant? Hardly.

Posted by: delantero | March 31, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

snap...the baby fell over backwards and hit its head and is icu! :(

Posted by: dfunkt | March 31, 2009 9:51 AM
dude, are you serious? Or is that some sort of metaphor?
If you're serious, I hope the baby is ok...

Posted by: DadRyan | March 31, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Am I missing anything or being willfully ignorant? Hardly.

Posted by: delantero | March 31, 2009 10:17 AM

How about price? Just because the space exists in NoVA, or there are buildings no one is currently occupying, does not mean that MacFarlane would be able to buy the land and justify the price.

He is a noted real estate developer, and bought the team with the intent to make money off development of the surrounding area. That is why they're looking for so much space and why no space inside the beltway will work. Is there space available at a fair price in Prince William or Loudoun? Yes, but we all know what happens with proportional attendance when DC plays at the Soccerplex.

The team has simply run out of options that are reasonably priced and close to, or in, the district. PG is the closest spot they can get.

Posted by: Josh8 | March 31, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

There's a 20 acre tract of land behind my house out here in Warren County, VA that can be had for cheap. Build the stadium there! I won't mind the traffic one bit!! Yes In My Backyard!

Posted by: boda-united | March 31, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

"It's a perfectly nice state"

Posted by: Cavan9 | March 31, 2009 9:31 AM

commonwealth. it's a perfectly nice commonwealth.

Posted by: VTUnited | March 31, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The ignorant ones are those in the MD legislature that passed an unconstitutional bill, the PG County committee that voted against the study 5-0 b/c they thought it was going to say ok to fund the stadium, and the repeated questions regarding the bill yesterday.

Am I missing anything or being willfully ignorant? Hardly.

Posted by: delantero | March 31, 2009 10:17 AM

I guess I owe you an apology, if you understood that the vote was by PG Council -- wasn't clear from your comment. However, you're going off some comment by Payne about what some supposed confusion at the Council. I don't think they thought they were voting against the study because they thought it was really funding. From what I read, their concerns were about the involvement of the National Capital Planning Commission. Maybe, I'm confused, but I think that was the issue.

Posted by: fischy | March 31, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

That is why they're looking for so much space and why no space inside the beltway will work....The team has simply run out of options that are reasonably priced and close to, or in, the district. PG is the closest spot they can get.

Posted by: Josh8 | March 31, 2009 10:29 AM

Just wanted to point out -- in case there's anyone not clear on this point -- the Morgan Blvd. site is inside the beltway.

Posted by: fischy | March 31, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"dude, are you serious? Or is that some sort of metaphor?"
Posted by: DadRyan | March 31, 2009 10:22 AM

no, not serious... yesterday i posted "babysteps!" RE: the stadium research proposal, and with my baby bonking head post was just saying that things have abruptly changed for the worse since yesterday afternoon.

Posted by: dfunkt | March 31, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The solution is clear: Amend the Maryland Constitution.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 31, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

This is why Dan Snyder needs to buy DCU. Then he can go to Fenty and tell him he wants to build a new 'Skins stadium on the site of RFK, and a new DCU stadium on the site of the Armory. And pay for the whole thing himself.

Heh, right, calm down, just kidding.

Then again...?

Posted by: Juan-John | March 31, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Juan-John dunno if you keep up with the Steinberg's Sportsbog, be he had a post about how much money the local owners have, and we'd be much better off with Ted Lerner, who is worth something like 4x what that Leprechaun has.

Posted by: VTUnited | March 31, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"How about price? Just because the space exists in NoVA, or there are buildings no one is currently occupying, does not mean that MacFarlane would be able to buy the land and justify the price.

He is a noted real estate developer, and bought the team with the intent to make money off development of the surrounding area. That is why they're looking for so much space and why no space inside the beltway will work. Is there space available at a fair price in Prince William or Loudoun? Yes, but we all know what happens with proportional attendance when DC plays at the Soccerplex.

The team has simply run out of options that are reasonably priced and close to, or in, the district. PG is the closest spot they can get.

Posted by: Josh8 | March 31, 2009 10:29 AM "


Seems the other MLS teams are fine with getting a SSS as a way to profitability with their purchase, so why does ours have to have other real estate development to make money?

I'm not sure if Mac bought the team with the intent to make money off of development as you say, because he has give some lip service to being committed to the team.

But if that were true, that Mac's intention all along for buying United was to make profit off of ancillary development tied to a soccer stadium and not simply to be the owner of United (where as the owner it would make sense he wants control of stadium revenues to stay profitable as a soccer operation) then I don't want him as an owner.

In other words he should own United to own United not to angle for real estate development that is tied to a soccer stadium.

To put it another way, if they build a crap stadium like Pizza Hut Park at the Soccer Plex but it is good enough to make a profit for United to stay in the DC area I'm ok with it and will support it 100%(and I say this knowing as much as I hate going into the state of MD). I don't care that Mac makes one cent off the team for other reasons, and he shouldn't let his greed torpedo our team's chances for a stadium based on a desire for developing the land around it.

Posted by: mcontento | March 31, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mcontento | March 31, 2009 12:31 PM

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

I hope you are correct and I agree 100% with the sentiment. Is it possible that MacFarlane is both? That he bought the team with every intention of winning the Poplar Point bid and develop it up? And during the course of fighting the council, came to truly enjoy owning a sports team?

It always seemed to me that owners were so eager to buy in because of the ancillary stuff, merchandising, developments, etc., and less so to do with the actual sport. I would prefer owners who are committed to growing the game, but recognize that not everyone has the purest intentions.

Posted by: Josh8 | March 31, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering why when we were looking at Poplar Point the owners were willing to float 100% of the bill for construction and now they are only willing to commit 25% for the PG site. Can someone clear this up for me?

Posted by: afadgsafhgd | March 31, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I think JoeW's comments on building in Virginia are why the talk of looking in Virginia is nothing more than a pipe dream. Whether MacFarlane could get his dream development surrounding the stadium or not, NIMBYs will kill anything having to do with the stadium. I'm no real estate developer, but I think MacFarlane would have looked in Virginia if it was at all worth the time. After all, over half the team's fans are there, and most NoVA counties have higher per capita incomes than PG. The prospect for making money would seem to be higher, at least to me. However, building a stadium there is a non-starter. As Cavan9 put it, the political realities on the ground are next to impossible to overcome.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 31, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I guess next year the visiing teams and the kick-off luncheon will be in Northern Virginia somewhere.

Posted by: lgm6986 | March 31, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Poplar Point became a deal for the District to pay for infrastructure of Poplar Point while giving United development rights for the rest of the site, afadgsafhgd. PG doesn't include development that we know of.

Posted by: sitruc | March 31, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

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