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Garber fumes about United stadium situation

Asked on a media conference call about D.C. United's inability to reach a deal on a new stadium, MLS Commissioner Don Garber assigned blame on area political leaders and reiterated his concern about the club's long-term future in the D.C. area.

"I am tired of going down [to Washington] for meetings and getting back-slapped and [attending] faux press conferences with mayors and local city officials to have them back-track because they can't get out of their own way. Quite frankly, it is frustrating, and at some point, we are going to have to do something about it."

Hello, Baltimore?

By Steve Goff  |  March 23, 2010; 2:59 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , MLS  
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Next: Payne adds to D.C. United stadium discussion

Comments

I'm disappointed you passed up the John Waters reference with "Good Morning, Baltimore."

I'm also disappointed that we're still dealing with this situation. Hopefully by the end of the season there will be happy news; if not, I fear there will be supremely unhappy news.

Posted by: TheAMT | March 23, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

VA is probably a more viable option.

Posted by: TheJim1 | March 23, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, it never stops for DC United fans. As soon as we get the latest "this could dissolve the League and our team" crisis out of the way, here comes the other.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | March 23, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Garber has every reason to vent. With the strike threat behind us, the horizons for MLS are endless. If DC can't get its act together, there are plenty of other cities that would love to have our beloved team. Has anyone thought through the possibility that a Montreal team may be a relocated DC United team, in order to keep the 18 team structure next year? Not to mention the irony of a pro sports relocation going in the opposite direction of the Expos-Nationals?

Posted by: jofij | March 23, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

If DC only became a state, it would run far more smoothly.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | March 23, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm still floored about John Busch getting dropped like that... man, the MLS is so pathetic at times.

Garber whining about this "unobtainable" DC stadium is still more pathetic. Their business plan is NAKED, "make it" in NY & LA & the rest of the league will take care of itself.

They'll not make it in NY, might in LA & Garber aught to grow a pair & act or clam up.

Posted by: the_lizard1000 | March 23, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey Don, if you're tired of coming to Washington, then stay home. There's already quite enough money-grubbers in this town with their hands in my pockets. You might have better luck if you and the owners quit looking for a hand-out and put up some g_dd_mn money.

Posted by: OWNTF | March 23, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't a United stadium deemed and reconciled in the recent bill?

Posted by: delantero | March 23, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Garber. The entire DC area has become one big NIMBY cesspool. I'm in Omaha today and the old railyard north of town has the Qwest Center, a burgeoning hotel district, a new baseball park and attempts at retail and entertainment redevelopment. In NOVA, the old rail yard contains a sprawling strip mall and bazillions of town houses all done with no improvements to basic transportation infrastructure.

Posted by: griffin1108 | March 23, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

OWNTF - they've tried to put up money. Under at least one of the many iterations of stadium plans, DC would foot the entire construction cost of the stadium - the city would have been responsible for infrastructure (which they'll have to build and pay for in Poplar Point no matter who develops it eventually). PG County never got off the ground, but it was because of NIMBYism and not wanting to spend money on a stadium study (which has to be publicly funded to avoid conflict of interest), not because United refused to put up money for construction.

Chang & Co. may just need to swallow hard and jump in with another developer who has a better relationship with the mayor (read: frat brother). That's the only way anything's getting done in the District while Fenty's still in office.

Posted by: TheAMT | March 23, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

He could not pick an a worse group of fans to say this to. He can talk about just taking the team somewhere else (and might physically be able to order it) but man is he in for mess of indignation, rage, and fallout if he does.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | March 23, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Time to launch a new "pick a site" contest. Just read about Montgomery County finally moving ahead with some development around White Flint, which made me think of a great empty area close to lots of public transport, decent places to go out before and after, easy access to I270 and the new intercounty connector...Check out the empty space across the street from Montgomery College on Hungerford/Rockville Pike on Google Maps if you don't know it. Very easy to have a shuttle from Rockville Marc/Metro/Amtrak and from Shady Grove Metro so no major infrastructure $ needed, space for parking as well. For size comparison, check out the Montgomery College Soccer field across the street (re-develop this with MC as a training site for DCU!!). OK, I've just made all this up, it will never happen, but it's not as crazy as it sounds. Beat that, Baltimore!

Posted by: assocfoot | March 23, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

@OWNTF

Nice!

The best case scenario for DCU would be if Chang gets another investor. That is the only way the club would be able to put up enough money for any local government to build a stadium. Worst case DCU moves to Baltimore. We will probably know more by next October. The ironic thing is so far this year Goff is 0 for 1 at predecting the future when it comes to MLS. I predict 0 for 2 with the whole DCU relocating. Keep reading the tea leaves Goff!

Posted by: no_recess | March 23, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"(which they'll have to build and pay for in Poplar Point no matter who develops it eventually)."

The District could:

(A) Not spend the money on infrastructure at this point in time, or

(B) Require a potential developer to pay for infrastructure.

RBNY spent a ton of money on road and utility improvements in Harrison, and paid for renovations to the Harrison PATH station.

It's deceptive to imply that only the District can/should pay for roads/utility/etc.

If DC United wanted this to happen, they would recognize that in the current fiscal environment, the District isn't laying out any more money than they need to, and the soccer team would pay for infrastructure. If they aren't willing to do that, then it's no wonder the mayor and council aren't listening.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | March 23, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

or, you know, just have the team owners pay for the thing and be done with it.

Posted by: nairbsod | March 23, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

or, you know, just have the team owners pay for the thing and be done with it.

Posted by: nairbsod | March 23, 2010 3:38 PM

True - but they can't afford it. And it's not even close. They need tons of partner money. What I'd like to know is what Garber and the league are doing to help Chang find partners and capital for a privately funded project - or is Garber just begging for a handout (as most league commissioners are want to do)?

I think the only prayer for a stadium in the city is to get in bed with a development company that could put a stadium in Buzzard Point. But there are plenty of things standing in the way of that even if they came up with the money and the plan.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 23, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Somebody check me on this, but when the city picked a developer for Poplar Point (after backing away from McFarlane & Chang in 2007, well before this financial climate), the city would still have been responsible for outlays for certain infrastructure.

Obviously it's all academic at this point. The site of the stadium is the preliminary question that hasn't been answered since the Mayor's Office walked away from negotiations over Poplar Point in 2007.

Posted by: TheAMT | March 23, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Did someone mention a stadium.........


"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 election)

link to full article: http://www.mlsnet.com/news/team_news.jsp?ymd=20061031&content_id=77524&vkey=news_dcu&fext=.jsp&team=t103

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 23, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

If Garber wants to not come to DC and backslap politicians he should talk to Payne, not to the press. Kevin Payne has had getting a new stadium as job one for 10 years. In any mature industry that record of failure would result in a lack of employment. Three coaches have been fired over that period, and any number of players let go, for not performing. Yet Payne with this massive failure still hangs on. His inability to perform due diligence, identify the real players in any political community, and the public relations atrocities like the General Assembly email attack have left us without a stadium and without any prospects.

Posted by: Liverbird | March 23, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Gandhi (the CFO, not the ahimsa guy) said no more borrowing for DC. Fenty, of course, is free to ignore htat if it benefits his cronies. On the other hand Martin O'Malley says that the new health care legislation will save Maryland $1B over the next 10 years. Surely some of that can go to a stadium in MoCo or PGCo, if it doesn't all go to projects in Baltimore.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 23, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I believe it to be true that Red Bull gmBH paid 220 million American greenbacks that they earned the old fashioned way (making stuff and selling it) to build the Harrison stadium.

So. Where there's a will there's a way.

If DC United and MLS want a stadium in DC, then quite whining and begging and just build it already. It's really disgusting to watch them act so entitled to public money, time and everything else. Take a look around at cut-backs in cops, fire, schools, Metro, and every thing else under the sun. And sky high taxes as it is.

I mean Garber's comments are really offensive. Everyone that doesn't k*ss your a$$ "can't get out of their own way"? What a condescending entitled brat. Speak of tripping over one's own self, dude, why don't you just STFU.

Posted by: OWNTF | March 23, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"OWNTF fumes about United stadium situation"

Posted by: OWNTF | March 23, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Weird - DC paid something like $35 million to renovate Eastern Market, which was and is the RFK of farmer's markets.

Maybe in the wake of EMK's death, some rich democrats could fix up RFK, to give all the Kennedys a memorial in DC to rival at least one of Reagan's. Play at Navy or College Park while that's going on.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | March 23, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

An argument against DC building a stadium with taxpayer money:

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Commentary/2002/07/Taxpayers-Prop-Up-Sports-Profits

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | March 23, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

zzzzzzzzzzz.....

Posted by: chemweapon | March 23, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

JoeDoc -- One of the staunchest opponents of public funding of the Maryland stadiums was a young State legislator named Chris Van Hollen. Really made a name for himself watching the public fisc.

Ironies abound.

Posted by: OWNTF | March 23, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"Weird - DC paid something like $35 million to renovate Eastern Market, which was and is the RFK of farmer's markets."

That is one of the dumbest most uninformed comments in the history of blog comments. Congrats.

Posted by: rockotodd | March 23, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

This stadium is not going to be built in the District of Columbia with public money - I think everyone involved needs to bury that idea. It's going to be hard enough to find the land and an agreement on usage and maybe some slight infrastructure help.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 23, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I would love for Baltimore to get a team, but I do not want it to be DCU. I seriously cannot envision a scenario in which the MLS moves United outside of the DC/NoVa/Southern MD region - the fan base is too good and there is too much history (albeit for a relatively new league). It'll get done at some point.

Posted by: Baltimore1202 | March 23, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Good. Garber is right, and someone in his position should be making these threats.

Meanwhile, Houston is now one step closer to building its stadium.

Posted by: Reignking | March 23, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps MLS and DCU should take a page out of the MLSPU's manual - realize that the thing you really want, whether it's public financing or free agency, will never be on the table, and start moving in other directions.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | March 23, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Kev29 - that's the crux of my point. Even if Will Chang walked into the Mayor's office with $300M in cash (more than RBA cost) and said, "I'd like to build a stadium and cover all the incidental costs myself," it wouldn't be enough. There would have to be a site that's available and suitable for building and that the city is willing to allow to be developed for a stadium (zoning, woo!). Then an EIS or seven and of course the NIMBYs. I really think that is where the frustration is coming from - not the city's reasonable unwillingness to pony up the dough.

Posted by: TheAMT | March 23, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"DC paid something like $35 million to renovate Eastern Market, which was and is the RFK of farmer's markets."

Maybe a goofy analogy, but it does give me an idea on how to get RFK renovated . . .

Posted by: benonthehill | March 23, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Will Chang still have people searching for additional capital partners right now?

Don't you imagine that the criteria is the ability to build VW Arena in DC without needing a lot of public assistance?

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | March 23, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Good. Garber is right, and someone in his position should be making these threats.

Meanwhile, Houston is now one step closer to building its stadium.

Posted by: Reignking | March 23, 2010 4:14 PM


Yeah, this is kinda where I am. I don't really understand why anyone is cross with Garber; seems like he's saying what the fans are feeling, only with whatever more political clout he has, if any.

Posted by: JkR- | March 23, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

@benonthehill - RFK renovated? Not a chance. No one is suggesting that. Tear it down and start over? Sure. But that lovable dump is on it's last legs.

The sad fact is that DCU/MLS is going to have to cough up more money for a new stadium. Politically, it's the only way to get a deal done in this economy.

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | March 23, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Salisbury United!

Posted by: vmrg1974 | March 23, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

This has everything to do with the District having had a $674 million boondoggle of a baseball stadium shoved down its throat (whcih, I predict, will be without a tenant in less than 10 years). With that bitter taste in their mouths, I cannot see any politician in the District (with the exception of Marion Barry) sticking their neck out and trying to help finance a stadium with public money. ANY public money. I hate to say it - speaking as a Day One fan of this club - but the reality is that unless something great comes along, and quickly, then I foresee the club being relocated.

Posted by: Str8Red | March 23, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

@PrinceBuster21, I think you're missing benonthehill's little joke...
Torches are right at home with pitchforks. Who's got some matches?

Posted by: DadRyan | March 23, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@PrinceBuster21,

Ok, right. Well in that case I WON'T try to set fire to RFK after all.

Posted by: benonthehill | March 23, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, the reason no deal has been reached for a United stadium is because DC bent over backwards to get the Nationals. DC residents are burdened with nearly the entire debt for that new stadium which has failed miserably so far to stimulate the neighborhood. This makes building another stadium a political anchor. Virginia or Maryland are better bets. DC is known for playing hardball, that is why the Redskins play in Landover even though the late Jack Kent Cooke footed the bill. If you have to lay blame it's a combination of the economy the lack of foresight constantly being displayed by DC government officials and residents.

Posted by: DrFieldgood | March 23, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The Nats Park comparisons and scapegoating are both irrelevant and off-base. The baseball stadium is not a financial drag on the city and it's taxpayers (unless you're referring specifically to the large business owners who saw a tax increase). The flagging property tax revenue from the recession is what's hurting the District's (and nearly all municipalities) budget right now. And the ancillary development is also stalled because of the economy and a lag in the need for office and retail space in the city. "Nats Park boondogle" is an easy answer to the wrong question. Public financing should never be in play for a soccer stadium anyway.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 23, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Garber or Chang need to get one of their 'friends' hired into Fenty's office, dig up a little dirt on "hizonner II" and then they'll finally have some leverage for a stadium deal in the district! That's the way stuff gets done in DC.

Posted by: soccerman | March 23, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

If DC only became a state, it would run far more smoothly.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | March 23, 2010 3:13 PM
---------------------------------------------------

I assume that was sarcasm. Too bad, because it's truer than you would admit. Of course, you could look at every state gov't and find cronyism nd corruption abounding. Which brings me to puzzlement over OWNTF's cryptic dig at the future Sen. (perhaps VP or Pres.) Van Hollen. Oops - that was politics -- but I didn't start it...

@AMT -- I think you're confusion about the to earlier failed Poplar Point deals is this: When DCU offered to build the stadium originally, they were asking to develop the whole Poplar Point deal. Later on, they were proposing to pay for a stadium alone, asking for significant improvements that would be needed to make a stadium viable. The real reason that never got off the ground is the developer walked, but the city and team never had a meeting of minds on the amount of the city's contribution. So, the city has never agreed to pay for anything with respect to the stadium or environs.

Posted by: fischy | March 23, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

"That is one of the dumbest most uninformed comments in the history of blog comments. Congrats."

****************************

well said rockotodd.

Posted by: DCB23 | March 23, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

well its safe to say DC United won't be in DC, the question is NOVA or Maryland (other than PGC). Unless its Arlington I hope its MD, but that won't happen since it looks like it probably will be on the metro.

Baltimore is just a way to get some leverage from someone. Maybe Columbia and split the difference? I'd be ok with that, close enough to still call it DC. Or near BWI so it can be on the MARC train? How's Odenton sound? :)

Posted by: Brian76 | March 23, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Ok, right. Well in that case I WON'T try to set fire to RFK after all.

===

Steel and concrete don't burn too well, anyway.

Posted by: mason08 | March 24, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

United MUST stay in dc proper. However, I find it a bit insane to ask for public funds in the midst of perhaps the worst economic situation in this country's history. I would imagine Phil anschultz and/ or Volkswagen could loan or toss united a bone. Rfk is the perfect site unless the Redskins have that site in lockdown for a return to the city (although I don't think they should be allowed anywhere near the city limits with the product they have). United needs to make the process as easy for dc as possble as the dc government is full of lazy hypocritical grandstanding morons. Too bad the days of bribing Marion Barry for a free pass are over!!!

Posted by: papple | March 24, 2010 1:29 AM | Report abuse

If Garber is tired of being jerked around by politicians and is tired of faux press conferences, then he should build the stadium himself. Come to town and start writing checks.

Since Garber is either unable or unwilling to pay for a stadium himself, he must wait for politicians to give him hand out.

His whining aside, someone (ahem, this blog) must remind Garber of the Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules. And right now the rules for this man who wants to suck at the public teat is, you get treated like dirt.

Dandy Don, STFU.

Posted by: milevin | March 24, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Garber has every reason to vent. With the strike threat behind us, the horizons for MLS are endless. If DC can't get its act together, there are plenty of other cities that would love to have our beloved team. Has anyone thought through the possibility that a Montreal team may be a relocated DC United team, in order to keep the 18 team structure next year? Not to mention the irony of a pro sports relocation going in the opposite direction of the Expos-Nationals?

Posted by: jofij
------------------------------------------
jofij, please do not think that I am trying to be a smart@ss, because i am really not:

The horizons for MLS are not "endless"; they are very, very limited. Especially during the current economic times.

Secondly, the potential Montreal ownership group already has a team in play; it is th second division Montreal Impact.

The Nats to Expo reverse that you threw out, while very creative, just simply is not a possibility.

Posted by: yankiboy | March 24, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

"If Garber wants to not come to DC and backslap politicians he should talk to Payne, not to the press. Kevin Payne has had getting a new stadium as job one for 10 years. In any mature industry that record of failure would result in a lack of employment. Three coaches have been fired over that period, and any number of players let go, for not performing. Yet Payne with this massive failure still hangs on. His inability to perform due diligence, identify the real players in any political community, and the public relations atrocities like the General Assembly email attack have left us without a stadium and without any prospects."
Yes,liverbird, you are right on point. Could not have said it better myself.

Posted by: Jphubba | March 24, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

KP severely miscalculated the DC political dynamics, hiring a PR/lobbying firm and spending bags of Victor's and Will's cash to get a new stadium. Nothing came out of that effort but a job for his daughter. Along with that, DCU decided to direct attention and effort at THE NIGHT OWL! How's that working out for them?

Bottom line: DC is not an option for DCU. The city has stadium fatigue and is pissed because it is not receiving a penny of rent from the Nats because the Nats are claiming that the city hasn't fulfilled its obligations under the lease. Something about the color of the faucets in the bathrooms.

DC has two choices: The provinces of NOVA where, yes, maybe in 7 years the subway will serve a stadium stop, or Baltimore where it will be hosted by a diverse and energetic urban center and housed by a stadium authority that knows a thing or two about building and managing stadia.

Posted by: lgm6986 | March 24, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

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