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Land Swap Deal Questioned At Hearing Over Proposed DC United Stadium

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A rendering of the proposed stadium for DC United located at Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C.
DC United
A rendering of the proposed stadium for DC United located at Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C.

The D.C. Council is considering a deal for the proposed soccer stadium in Southwest D.C. Council members say they're on board with a new stadium in southwest D.C., but several have concerns about how the deal is structured.

The deal hinges on the city trading away land at 14th and U Streets NW — a hot spot for development — to a developer in return for land where the stadium will be built in southwest D.C., a much less lucrative parcel of land, at least right now.

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) says he doesn't think the city is getting a good deal for its land on U Street.The value was set by three appraisers. Graham says the city should open up the land to bidders. Other council members say they believe the land swaps are fair and want the deal to go through as quickly as possible.

"Let's have an auction, let's attract bidders from all over the world, and see what his most desirable property is truly worth," Graham said.

That would likely throw a wrench in the deal. On the other side of the spectrum is Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2). The long time council member says while the economic analysis is important, what really matters is that D.C. gets a soccer stadium.

"But most importantly, the reasons we have these stadiums and teams, is that we can get to do a game," Evans said. "That's why I wanted a baseball stadium, didn't want to drive to baltimore to go a baseball game."

Several representatives of DC United were on hand for the hearing. Coach Ben Olsen testified that a new stadium could help D.C. cement its standing as the capital of U.S. Soccer.

Others testified that the stadium could help anchor new development in the neighborhood, although there are questions about how people will get to the games because the closest Metro station is about a mile away and the streetcar plans have been potentially scaled back because of budget cuts.

More hearings are expected and dozens of people testified at the day-long hearing.

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