DC United has been petitioning the DC Government for a stadium of their own. The primary team owner, an urban real-estate developer, made some promises to build the stadium, in exchange for some contracts. Well, he didn't win the contracts (more DC contract boondoggles?) and now wants to take his stadium deal off the table, and wants the city to bankroll it. A tale of money, property, development, and the wonders that is the Local Government.
I've been following this locally, and it has a several twists and turns.
Initially, the majority owner of DC United (a San Franciscan by the
name of Victor McFarlane) offered to build the stadium with his own
money, if he was allowed to develop the surrounding area. However, he
lost the contract on the development of the area (which is slated for
mixed-use retail/office space) and he has since been claiming that the city
needs to build the stadium. Stadiums in other cities have been built
for $100MM or so, DC is offering (weakly right now) $150MM, and he is
claiming they need $225MM for their stadium.
The location of the new stadium is an area of SE DC called "Poplar Point". As the picture shows, it's jammed in between the Anacostia freeway, the South Capital St. Bridge, and the 11th St. bridge. In other words, while it is served nicely by a combination of freeways and metro stations, it is still termed "Centrally Isolated". The MCI center was smack in the middle of downtown, and the Nationals park is on the waterfront
Other stadiums like the MCI center downtown (hockey/basketball) and
the new National stadium (baseball) in SE are able to meld into the community
(the baseball one is a very big question mark as the area down near
the old navy yard was special in its own way).
The Post article which nailed the reason for the concern was Mark Fisher's article where he used the number: 35. This is the number
of home dates that are played by DC United. When you do the math, and you look at the return, each home date will need to bring in $320K worth of revenue. I'm basing this on $225MM cost and 20 years to pay it back (which may be too long. Many owners start whining when their stadium is ten years old). In this term, they are correct. We haven't even discussed the environmental issues surrounding the open parkland, though personally the place has always been a no man's land - near the water, but so close to nothing, and it's ideal for noontime trysts from the local military bases.
Councilman Jack Evans (the one who made the Nats stadium happen) will probably make a good run at getting this going because
he has two agendas - he wants to see the Anacostia development go
through and work and he thinks the mixed use idea can be made to work
again. Second, and more importantly is he wants everything out of the
old RFK stadium because he wants to level it and tempt Dan Snyder into
bringing the Redskins back into the city. RFK is there, and DC United
will get trampled the first whiff of the Redskins moving back.
Victor MacFarlane, primary owner of DC United, has been running into some financing issues recently, most notably in Southern California with CALPERS. They had to get bailed out by Dubai money. Struggling real estate market + lack of contract to build retail/office space = no money for stadium from Victor.
The best part - Councilman Marion Barry is in the mix!! You can not be denied
the political enjoyment.