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Soccer MLS

MLS: D.C. United’s New Stadium Outlook Turns Grim

Barra Brava D.C. United MLS

Brad Mills – USA TODAY Sports

The ongoing discussion for a new stadium to house D.C. United has been one snag after another, but it may have finally hit a wall. D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser said Wednesday that she opposes the current plan to establish ground for a stadium in the Buzzard Point area. Her rhetoric and battle with current Mayor Vincent C. Gray puts the stadium deal in jeopardy due to political posturing toward public sentiment. For D.C. United and MLS, now would be a good time to come up with a relocation plan.

The current plan on the table includes land deals with owners in the Buzzard Point area, tax incentives and a land swap. The city would put up about half the cost, including trading the Reeves Center to the developer for a piece of Buzzard Point. The project is said to cost upwards of $300 million.

As chair of the council’s committee on economic development, Bowser can block any large scale leases or land sales. When asked about the deal she stated that it is not a priority for D.C. United to get another stadium and she would worry about how to transform the city’s schools. D.C. public schools already average more spending per student than any other area in the United States, including a $2,000+ bump from 2009 to 2010.

Bowser’s recent comments also included calling out United’s majority owner, Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir, and the valuation of the Reeves Center. She wants to make sure the team is invested and that the city gets the full worth of the Reeves Center. There has been a strong opposition to the possibility of another publicly-funded stadium in the D.C. area.

Slips in the stadium schedule have now become a big deal as the April 1 political primary approaches. This political posturing moving toward an election means the chances of working out a new stadium deal for United looks bleak. If the public embraces Bowser’s ideals then the money for a stadium is pushed to classrooms or another priority. Politics in general can be a slow game, but here is an idea of how slow it could be in D.C.

 

The evidence is against D.C. United so it is time for the ownership and MLS to look at the next option. Relocation should now be an option, if it wasn’t already. Bowser may shut down other options and RFK Stadium is still under control of the Washington Redskins. Leaving needs to be discussed.

Douglas Smith is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DFresh39, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.