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D.C. United's Ownership and Stadium Status

D.C. United chairman Will Chang confirmed a Sports Business Journal report that he has hired an investment firm to identify potential business partners.

Why? He says he wants a larger group to oversee the club, similiar to the arrangement of which he is a part with baseball's San Francisco Giants. He also cited the Washington Capitals, led by Ted Leonsis, as a model for diverse franchise investment. Ideally, he would like to attract local investors. "By getting the community involved," Chang said, "I think it would strengthen the franchise."

In a telephone interview this afternoon, he also told me that he has no plans to bail on United, despite mounting losses. "If I didn't believe in the franchise, I wouldn't have bought out the other partners -- that is my vote of confidence and belief that the franchise has a huge future," he said, referencing his purchase of Victor MacFarlane's stake in the club and buying out a group that included former Duke basketball teammates Christian Laettner and Brian Davis last year. "I am passionate about the game and about the team, and I have no intention of getting out."

As for a timetable, he said he has "no deadline. I will take as long as it takes to get the right group of investors together."

Naturally, the conversation shifted to the prospects for a new stadium, which are intrinsically tied to the club's financial well-being. Without a new facility, United will continue to bleed cash and remain a candidate for relocation. Philadelphia and New York will move into modern, medium-sized arenas this season and Kansas City has broken ground on a venue that will open next year. Los Angeles, Chivas USA, Dallas, Chicago, Colorado, Real Salt Lake, Columbus and Toronto have moved into new stadiums over the years.

As you know, United has been trying for years to jump-start a project. How could we forget Poplar Point and the seemingly sure thing in Prince George's County?

Team president Kevin Payne provided this update:

"We have conversations on-going. Baltimore is studying the issue now with their consultants. We have a conversation on-going with a developer and others in Virginia and there is a conversation going in D.C. But I am not going to talk about any details at all. We think that, when the time is right and there is more to talk about and we can speak intelligently about any of these options, we will do so."

There is a lot of skepticism about whether this will ever happen.....

"That's one of the reasons I don't want to talk about it."

Is there reason for optimism?

"I am optimistic that we will have a long-term solution for a stadium, but I am not going to try to predict where it will be."

What about when it might happen?

"I think we will have clarity this year."

This year meaning.....

"2010."

That's an awfully wide window.....

"I know, but having gone through what we have gone through, I am not going to [predict]. We successfully resisted for a long time trying to talk about when we felt we were going to have a stadium, and then we switched strategy at one point and made things public [with the PG County plan]. In my opinion, it didn't serve us well. These are complex and sensitive conversations and it's best not to talk a whole lot about them until there's something definitive to talk about."

That said, how long can you continue to play at RFK while continuing to suffer financially and have to sit back and watch most other teams move into new stadiums?

"Certainly not endlessly. It's not an easy thing dealing with the losses."

Chang added this:

"I don't have a preconceived notion for how long. I very much want to stay in Washington, D.C., but I can't stay in RFK indefinitely because the financial model doesn't work. How long? I don't have an answer, but I can tell you that I very much want to stay in the District or within the Beltway and don't want to move the franchise. There is a tremendous value, as I go around the world, about being in the nation's capital of the most powerful and richest country in the world. How patient I could be as far as staying here? I can't answer that. I don't know."

By Steve Goff  |  February 1, 2010; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Comments

If the games move from RFK, someone post the new location and I'll see you there. Until then, see you at RFK...

Posted by: JkR- | February 1, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

"I don't have a preconceived notion for how long. I very much want to stay in Washington, D.C., but I can't stay in RFK indefinitely because the financial model doesn't work. How long? I don't have an answer, but I can tell you that I very much want to stay in the District or within the Beltway and don't want to move the franchise. There is a tremendous value, as I go around the world, about being in the nation's capital of the most powerful and richest country in the world. How patient I could be as far as staying here? I can't answer that. I don't know."

That's a long winded way of saying "one year." JOKING!

Thank goodness that MacFarlane was bought out, by the way. I didn't realize what a disaster MacFarlane Partners have been for its investors.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | February 1, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Am I over-reacting by reading something into the fact that Payne mentioned Baltimore first, then VA and then DC? I really hope that's not the order of options/non-options.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 1, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

New stadiuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Posted by: SportzNut21 | February 1, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I understand why keeping it quiet is the right call. But thanks for the "zzzzzzz" update Steve. Good reporting.

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | February 1, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, indeed. but still good stuff. :)

Posted by: nairbsod | February 1, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

No Baltimore. I live in the summer in Springfield, VA. That trip will suck. I probably will only be able to make a few games then :(

Posted by: grubbsbl | February 1, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

DC United. Enjoy while it lasts.

Posted by: OWNTF | February 1, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Steve, Is it possible to just tear down RFK and build a new stadium there? How about something like what Philly or LA has build a stadium in connection with a university. Georgetown, American, Catholic, Howard, or George Washington, and so on surely DCU can find a partner that would like to have a new stadium on their campus.

Posted by: degerron | February 1, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Will Change tweeted "just did an interview with Steven Goff...check it out."
http://twitter.com/willchangdcu

Posted by: rockotodd | February 1, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

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

Kevin Payne just tweeted "Doesn't Steven Goff have a basketball game to cover or something?"

Posted by: OWNTF | February 1, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Vamos Baltimore United just doesn't have the same ring.

I'm confident Chang & Co. can find a venue inside the beltway, but it's going to be a hefty investment. Maybe this is why partners are needed?

Posted by: SoccerVA | February 1, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Not surprised that Goff made Payne squirm. The previous announcements have been hard for everyone to take. Its a difficult sitution, they are going to need additional investors because even if they do come up with a site, with the poor economy and nearly broke municipalities, you can discount any private - public partnership for a soccer specific stadium. At this point, I wouldn't hold out much chance for a Metro accessable site either.

Posted by: sbg1 | February 1, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I just hope someone with the club reads this, but even though I live a long way away I will not support Baltimore United. I will wait until another team returns to DC. They will have to rebuild the fan base from near the bottom.

Posted by: bdwooton | February 1, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

All I have to say to those who would bail on the team for moving to Baltimore: "Good Riddance".

I live in North Carolina FFS. I make it to matches when I can, but I've supported the team since 96' and will continue to do so at RFK, in B'More, NoVa, or anywhere else in the area.

Posted by: alecw81 | February 1, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Even though I do support and love DC United and it would feel right without them. There will be support for the team in Baltimore. There are plenty of soccer fans in the area. There is also a group that started to support a team
www.mlsinbaltimore.org

Posted by: BmoreFan | February 1, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm concerned where DC United will play next season. All signs pointed towards 2010 as being almost the last viable season RFK would be able to host sporting events. I'm convinced that if we do not have a groundbreaking by the end of the season, they'll be playing elsewhere in 2011.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: jayrockers | February 1, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I say get rid of that moron Fenty, and make a new deal with a new mayor...A mayor that sees the value.

Posted by: alan19 | February 1, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

I keep getting less and less hopeful every time Chang or Payne talk about a stadium within DC. By 2011 only one team that has spent their entire time in one city will not have their own stadium...us. I think Chang wants more investors because he needs the extra cash to finance a private stadium. That seems like the only way things will get done at this point.

Posted by: dpowellutkedu | February 1, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Will Chang "I can tell you that I very much want to stay in the District or within the Beltway and don't want to move the franchise"

Ok, so can we drop the trolls (rocker, pwerbtr) and the St. Louis/elsewhere references already? Baltimore? Uh, a distant third.

Time for DC to step up to the plate . . er wait that already cost them $600 million . . maybe step up to the penalty spot?

Posted by: delantero | February 1, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Good reporting/questioning Mr Goff.
I guess the unasked question is.....can this market really support a stadium and a team?
I think it can - but what does the money think?.......for they decide, not me.

Posted by: marksman37 | February 1, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

AArrrggghh! The brutality!!!

Posted by: JaimeSegundo | February 1, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

When DCU leaves RFK it will have NO rent-paying tenant. It will either sit there derelict or it will be torn down and rebuilt. The city won't pay for the rebuilding - all their jack went to the Nats stadium. Private investors will have to do it - Danny, if he can, or Will and his new investors. My bet is that Danny springs for a DannyDome, and Will and his friends get hind teat in one of the parking lots.

Posted by: b18bolo | February 1, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

When DCU leaves RFK it will have NO rent-paying tenant. It will either sit there derelict or it will be torn down and rebuilt. The city won't pay for the rebuilding - all their jack went to the Nats stadium. Private investors will have to do it - Danny, if he can, or Will and his new investors. My bet is that Danny springs for a DannyDome, and Will and his friends get hind teat in one of the parking lots.

Posted by: b18bolo |

Actually, the city can and I think will pay for a new stadium on the RFK site - in partnership with Snyder. Nats Park has not hurt the city's ability to fund such projects, it's actually helped the bond rating. I'm no development financing expert, and it will awhile but you have to think the city wants the Skins back. And in a stadium that will attract the Super Bowl and the Final Four.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 1, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

The best tidbit i've heard in years. they're keeping it private instead of displaying in the dc news which immediately draws community ire from small groups of short-sighted, NIMBY "people" who overrun this place & who don't a flying f about anything but their own boring selves.this town sometimes has no vision of how great of a city it could be

Posted by: jbfromfc | February 1, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see these dudes are finally reading all my comments on SI and doing the right thing.

Please get Chang, Snyder, and Leonsis in a room already. Explain the World Cup Bid implications(K. Payne is a USSF board member right!?) AND LETS ALL GET ON THE SAME PAGE ALREADY!


Posted by: DadRyan | February 2, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Am I over-reacting by reading something into the fact that Payne mentioned Baltimore first, then VA and then DC? I really hope that's not the order of options/non-options.
----------------------------------------------------------

Nope -- not overreacting. Without a doubt, that's where things stand now, because United is committed to getting public financing. Baltimore is the only community that is studying the possibility. Of course, I also would read into this that KP's trying to needle the other jurisdictions. I would also read int this that KP blames MacFarlane's taste for the limelight for torpedoing past efforts (DC, PG). I'm not sure that's entirely fair, but PG might have gone better if the study had been done first. I doubt, but ya never know. PG lacks a soccer constituency. So does Anacostia, but it had Barry as a champion, and Tony Williams as a numbers wonk that saw potential.

No doubt, Will does want partners to bring in some more capital. Ideally, it would be someone willing to do what Cooke did in Landover -- but that's not economically realistic. United could never bring the kind of return the Redskins do, even with more games. So, Will is really looking to spread the losses. One reason to like Leonsis would be the city would have a hard time saying "no", if he offered a financially viable stadium plan. Of course, Snyder could work with ownership to build a pair of stadiums on the RFK site (he can't finance it himself -- Six Flags is in bankruptcy, and the Redskins aren't even worth what the football stadium would cost).

I want to be encouraged by the effort to reach out for new partners, but until they materialize I can't be. I've been pretty upbeat about this -- maybe the most upbeat here -- but, for the first time, I'm concerned by what the owner has said. Will is making it very clear that he cannot continue to operate the team at RFK for much longer without a firm plan to turn revenues around.

I think they're signaling if there isn't plan in place in a year, they will explore other options...other locations. The thing is, in an election year and in the middle of the biggest recession we've ever seen and massive government reductions and layoffs, I don't see any possibility of any locality committing public funds. Maybe Baltimore, which is desperate to get an anchor for the Westport project. Or, maybe Fenty will have a change of heart if he sees votes in announcing an actual development plan for Polar Point or Barry Farms -- or a two-stadium plan to bring back the Redskins. In most election years, this would be very plausible, but this year...???

Posted by: fischy | February 2, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Oh -- Dad - they're not reading the comments on this blog. Not yours. Not mine.

Posted by: fischy | February 2, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Spending some time downtown last week, I thought, how great it would be to put a stadium on the site of the old convention center. It would be tight, and would probably result in a non-traditional seating arrangement due to the shape of the existing lot, and certainly there would be no parking---but it would be fantastic to have the stadium right in the middle of downtown.

And now, back to reality...

Posted by: mrchuckles | February 2, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Payne has done a wonderful job of trying to get a stadium...does anyone care what he has to say, come on...

Posted by: LCR-54 | February 2, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

At what point will the loses from not owning a stadium amount to the price of a self-financed stadium? I know everybody wants to use public money (after why use your own) but if the money ain't coming any time soon and DC is really losing morning with every match played at RFK, why not just self-finance the deal?

Posted by: tundey | February 2, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Will Chang needs to step in and take charge of the United Soccer teams business operation. Why is it other teams are capable of securing a stadium of their teams while the United franchise keeps struggling to finalize and agreement. Also, the teams performance is going in the wrong direction. I hope Curt Onolfo will turn the team around.
DC needs more soccer minded indivisuals. People that understand the game and know a good soccer player.

Posted by: galaxies42 | February 2, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Will Chang needs to step in and take charge of the United Soccer teams business operation. Why is it other teams are capable of securing a stadium of their teams while the United franchise keeps struggling to finalize and agreement. Also, the teams performance is going in the wrong direction. I hope Curt Onolfo will turn the team around.
DC needs more soccer minded indivisuals. People that understand the game and know a good soccer player.

Posted by: galaxies42 | February 2, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Excellent observation about the people. I nominate galaxies42 to head the effort to bring soccer-minded individuals to DC. Alternatively, we could bring a lot of good soccer players here and introduce them to DC's residents.

The Sounders will bring in over $1,000,000.00 in ticket sales for every home game. We need something like 30,000+ soccer-minded individuals here, too. Good luck with your new duties, galaxies42.

Posted by: fischy | February 2, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh -- Dad - they're not reading the comments on this blog. Not yours. Not mine.

Posted by: fischy | February 2, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

I thought it was mentioned here a few months back, by someone who had reason to know, that the front office does indeed read these comments and take them seriously. Sorry I don't remember when exactly, or who said it.

I'm not driving to Baltimore . . . I'll see my live pro soccer in Germantown if they move. Unless there's a stimulus bullet train to the Baltimore stadium.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 2, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Question to Steven Goff:

I assume that being a reporter, you are reporting on facts. That being said, when in your story you use terms like "suffer financially" and "bleed cash", has DC United ever shown you their books or tax returns?

I'm not arguing against a stadium for the team--though I will argue against a city taxpayer funded one---but be it soccer, or of the other Major League sports in this country, all we see time and time again is owners talk about how they are losing money, yet they never go out of business.

I question how much DC United is losing money and in a sport where the roster of "players" salaries are lower in MLS than that of a AAA minor league baseball team, I wonder how much they are losing and why?

Also, if RFK is so bad, why not look to temporarily rent Byrd Stadium at U of Maryland, or even 25 miles to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis? What about Fed Ex Field since its the stadium of choice for friendlies against big name teams.

The point is, I question how much United is losing until they can prove it, and since they are not going to show their books, the skeptic in me remains and should remain in everyone else following the team.

Posted by: dccavalier | February 2, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I just Saw a Rented movie About Health Care and Nationalistic Democrats all should see By a 1972 Geraldo Rivera' movie Called Unforgotten Twenty Five Years after WillowBrook about the Public out cry about the Willowbrook State School for people with DevelopMental disablities. it was Like watching the Trails at Nerumberg Germany About the doctors of Nationalistic 3rd "Riech"

Bloomington I.U. Sports and Reom Emnalue Acorn Supporting Abortion backing Democrat Nationalistic Views play out much the same way as with like Bloomington Mayor Seeking to Nationalize a Small Pivitly owned Sport plex backed by paid I.U. coaches that are paid 6,000,000 a year but backed nationalism of the about same amount for the city to own the Sport plex as the Not for Profit Stone Belt Care company that takes care The Developmental disabled that I.U. Pre World war Two 3rd riech Doctors and leaders acted to exsperiment on refuse to help them as their under founded 70,000..Can you see the Likness of Poor Leadership of Obama..

And to think It was A Socer Coach that Backed this act of Nationalism
Bruce Anderson FaceBook

I am Writing a Book that deals with Bloomington World War Two Past. Writing.com Elisheva & The Way Stones

Posted by: WindSong | February 2, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Deja Vu to the S.J. Earthquakes move to Houston. Doomed.

Posted by: JRandomReader | February 2, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Also, if RFK is so bad, why not look to temporarily rent Byrd Stadium at U of Maryland, or even 25 miles to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis? What about Fed Ex Field since its the stadium of choice for friendlies against big name teams.

Posted by: dccavalier | February 2, 2010 9:21 AM

Byrd - too narrow and UMd not interested (especially after they were used as a bit of a pawn in the Morgan Blvd game)

Navy - maybe, I guess

FedEx - can't be economically viable. And I don't think Snyder would want United post-August.

Guess they could try to cram in 9 or 10k at the SoccerPlex, but even that would be difficult. And beyond the scope of what the county wants in Boyds.

I think this is the first time I'm starting to believe that United has a chance to leave.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 2, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

@windsong -- Will your "Book" be Written in "English"? If so, it will be easier to read than your comment. I probably should show enough sense to avoid engaging a discussion, since they say you can't change other people's minds -- but I can't resist. If I can make sense of your ramblings, it's funny how people look at abuses that have occurred without a federal health system to argue against one. Those things do not happen in countries that care enough about their sick and disadvantaged to provide universal health care. I don't understand what you're writing about I.U., but I can assure you that there is no state university coach that makes anywhere near $6,000,000. If there were, though, it would be more proof that our spending priorities are grossly misplaced and there is too much greed and income disparity -- more reason to take the President and Democrats seriously when they talk about what we can do to address these fundamental weaknesses that are killing this country.

Posted by: fischy | February 2, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

The best tidbit i've heard in years. they're keeping it private instead of displaying in the dc news which immediately draws community ire from small groups of short-sighted, NIMBY "people" who overrun this place & who don't a flying f about anything but their own boring selves.this town sometimes has no vision of how great of a city it could be

Posted by: jbfromfc | February 1, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Well said....

Dad-KP is on record as saying he never reads SI or listens to the sports talk shows. He sees nothing "productive" in doing so.

DCcavalier-MLS is not MLB. The league is not a money maker and everyone involved is aware of this to include the players. I'm assuming you are new to the game based on your comments. Welcome to MLS and Vamos United!

Posted by: croftonpost | February 2, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Buzzard Point

Posted by: DCB23 | February 2, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Reading the stadium discussions, I can only shake my head at how helpless the fans feel. I mean...is there ANYTHING we can do to help this happen? I guess for one we could all bring 5 people that wouldn't normally go to a every game to help raise the bottom line. But other than that, I feel like all the calls, emails, marches etc. have really had no impact in getting us any closer to our goals.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: Atlanta4MLS | February 2, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Buzzard Point

Posted by: DCB23 | February 2, 2010 11:39 AM

Yep - this.

Pretty much my Hail Mary hope at the team finding a stadium in a part of the area that we'd all be excited about.

Unfortunately, the planning team that studied the development potential was not psyched about the thought of stadium there...

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=4168

Posted by: Kev29 | February 2, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

3 words: "Maryland Stadium Authority" They want professional soccer & they will build an 18K seat soccer only stadium to bring United to Maryland. MSA loves international soccer even more and they are committed to being in the World Cup rotation when it swings back to the U.S. This plan is already in play but will take 6 months to be finalized i.e. press release early 4th Qtr 2010. D.C. has no money and no investor base & Virginia has no interest. Maryland Stadium Authority knows fans will travel on the train or take buses to the Inner Harbor to watch United play; plus M&T & Camden Yards are proven facilities - Baltimore will win this deal - and they already have! New name will be simply "United" Eagle is the logo | not much will change just location and crab cakes w/National Bo cold one to chase it home. 2012 is the target year for moving in to the new stadium. Go United Go hun and aint that Lincoln Phillips and the Baltimore Bays gettin ready to be honored by El Diablo!
I think Mr. Goff is sitting on the story afraid to release the "micro-burst" storm that this will cause around town... Santino comes home in 2012 & see you all in Fells Point for pre-game warm ups.

Posted by: Zipfutbol | February 2, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I have zero....nay, negative loyalty to Baltimore and United moving away from DC will signal the death of the team I love. I might go to a game or two, but I won't be able to identify with the team anymore. I'll become an Atlanta4MLS advocate full time at that point.

Posted by: Atlanta4MLS | February 2, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Spending some time downtown last week, I thought, how great it would be to put a stadium on the site of the old convention center.

Posted by: mrchuckles | February 2, 2010 8:22 AM
________________________________________

Plans for the development of the old convention center site have been in place for ages:

http://www.oldconventioncenter.com/project.php

Ditto for Potomac Yards. Ditto for Springfield Mall. Ditto for the north end of Crystal City. Can people add other sites to this list?

Posted by: universityandpark | February 2, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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