Tuesday, May 12, 2009

They have a dream...for a publicly funded stadium

D.C. United is in a holding pattern. When the District of Columbia was unwilling to bankroll the entire Poplar Point project, the club looked towards Maryland. However, with Prince George's County wants the team to kick in some money, the new stadium is looking lost.

The handful of loyal fans decided handle this in typical D.C. fashion, by taking it to the streets, to drum up support. At least someone brought their A game with the "12 cups, 1 home" banner. But they are lost in the sea of ink, black and red.

Victor MacFarlane, owner of D.C. United, and all around developer, has been working the metro area trying to drum up public funding for a soccer only stadium. He's run into the issue which plagues the D.C. area for all of time - the threeway of local government inaction. There is certainly enough demand for a stadium in this area, as well as enough non-game events (the team believes they can book 55-60 non-MLS events) to help support itself. But MacFarlane wants the taxpayers to pay the whole thing. Maybe in better economic climates, you can make this happen with enough vig in the right places (after all, this is Maryland).

The closest choice came with the idea of raising the money via the use of taxes/fees on the facility. In the comments made when D.C. United 'decided' on one of seven sites in the suburban Prince George's County, Owner Victor MacFarlane made comments about trying to raise money in these times:

"In this economic time, we understand that we cannot ask for one dollar from the existing tax base, and we will not, I promise," said MacFarlane. "We're not going to do that. All we're asking for is that the direct taxes that are generated by the stadium be utilized to help fund the stadium."
What he means is, We're going to pay, one way or another. Prince George's County pushed back last month, not willing to sign up as the entity holding the bag if there is a gap in stadium revenue.

Enter, the congregation at Lincoln Park. Estimates of 500 people showed up. Maybe enough people in Portland to kick local government to action. But not this area, that's just a normal day at the office.

Personally, MacFarlane has always seemed like he's been using the team as a pawn for development projects, and his interest wanes when he is thwarted. Hence the team's selection of PG County, but they are still juggling seven sites. The fans would be better served forcing MacFarlane to either step up and kick in some clauses to help ally fears of any revenue shortfall, while the local government needs to realize their focus here should be to pick up some of that slack also. Right now few cities will be coughing up cash for a new stadium unless their was a guarantee, and D.C. United can't hold that over the head of local politicians. In the game of high stakes fiscal poker, the politicians may be holding right now.

Photos: March for United [BehindTheBadge]
D.C. United Fans March to Keep Their Fans [dcist]
What's Next For United [WashingtonTimes]


Precious Roy said...

Don't think you ever want to use a slogan that is in the slightest way reminiscent of "2 Girls 1 Cup."

Jason Davis said...

Show me some evidence that United wanted the city to "bankroll the entire project".

Precious Roy said...

Jason: Are you referring to the DC proposal?

It's my understanding that the terms of the deal the city had with Clark Realty Capital to develop Poplar Point had changed. And that, after the economic meltdown, Clark wanted the city to fund the construction and pay Clark a fee to act solely as the builder.

But the falling out between the city and United precedes Clark's involvement, correct? And that once the Poplar Point deal was turned over to Clark, it was up to them whether or not they would include the stadium. And, even though they had designed an 'optional site' for the stadium, Clark never seriously negotiated with MacFarlane.

Even so, when Poplar fell apart, any chance of the stadium there fell apart. So the use of the word 'entire' is probably not completely accurate. But in the original deal the District was going to be on the hook for improvements around the park at a minimum. And where MacFarlane had indicated he would pay for the stadium if the city did the improvements, I don't think I've ever seen anything indicating what form that would take (i.e. like taxes generated similar to the proposal in Maryland).

Still I doubt it was going to be from his pocket. And would ultimately come from a tax of some kind, meaning that if not the District, ultimately taxpayers of some stripe would be paying the cost.

MoonshineMike said...

When the district bailed on Poplar point, they set their sights on PG County, and they were maneuvering to pay their part by exacting use taxes, which means they don't want to put up front. I think the biggest issue is who covers the gap in revenue that could happen.

Mike Georger said...

"Don't think you ever want to use a slogan that is in the slightest way reminiscent of "2 Girls 1 Cup.""

it's the only way to get the sport mentioned on deadspin.

MoonshineMike said...

"two mancs, one urinal"?