A rendering of the new D.C. United stadium at Buzzard Point.
D.C. Mayor Vince Gray today announced an agreement with professional soccer team D.C. United to help build a 20,000-seat, $300 million stadium at Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C.
As part of the plan, D.C. would put $150 million worth of land and infrastructure improvements towards the project, with the team's ownership picking up the tab for the building the new stadium, which would be completed by 2016.
One of the major land swaps would involve the Franklin D. Reeves Center for Municipal Affairs at U and 14th Streets NW, which would be turned over to a private developer in exchange for land to be used for the new stadium. A new Reeves Center would be built in Anacostia, where it will house 1,000 D.C. employees.
"The realization of a soccer stadium in the District is a reflection of D.C. United’s role within the fabric of the city and the sport. Our club and our fans forged traditions to anchor Major League Soccer in its infancy. This accomplishment will add to our rich history, leading to a venue in our nation's capital unlike any other in our league," wrote team owner Jason Levien in an open letter.
Despite expressing enthusiasm for the plan, Gray admitted that it was both "creative" and "complicated." Given the land swap component involved in the deal—which would allow D.C. to avoid exceeding its debt cap, set at 12 percent of overall spending—Gray will need seven members of the D.C. Council to go along with the plan.
One Council member who already pledged his support was Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who built the Reeves Center and would see it relocated to his ward. "I support it 100 percent. It makes a lot of sense to bring thousands of employees east of the river. We would welcome the traffic, they would bring money and go shopping. Ward 8 is going to be booming," he said.
The last stadium D.C. worked on was Nationals Park, which was fully funded by taxpayers to the tune of more than $700 million. Gray said the D.C. United stadium deal would look more like the Verizon Center, which was paid for by Abe Pollin while the city paid for infrastructure.
D.C. United has played at RFK Stadium since 1996, but fans and team officials have regularly complained that the 52-year-old stadium isn't up to snuff for a professional soccer team. Of the 45,000 seats in the stadium, only some 20,000 are used for D.C. United home games.
Over the years, team officials have considered moving the team to Prince George's County and even Baltimore, both of which seemed open to helping build a new stadium.