SBD/May 13, 2011/Facilities

DC United Deals With Aging RFK While Trying To Land New Stadium Deal

DC United has spent all 16 MLS seasons at the aging RFK Stadium
DC United "has repeatedly failed in efforts to build a new stadium," and the club "remains lodged at RFK Stadium" in its 16th MLS season, according to a front-page piece by Goff & O'Connell of the WASHINGTON POST. Despite a record four MLS Cup titles, United long "has endured power outages, a crumbling infrastructure, scheduling conflicts with baseball and football games, antiquated bathrooms and concessions, and the absence of luxury suites." DC United President & CEO Kevin Payne said, "We have a lot more good memories than bad memories in this building, but its time has come and gone, and it’s time to move on." Three years after United "first believed it had a deal for a new stadium in the District, its long-term future remains unclear." The team has made "several attempts at finding a new place to settle in the Washington area, but each has ended in frustration, prompting United to consider other options." Backed by the Maryland Stadium Authority, Baltimore "has reached out to United with an early-stage proposal to build a facility near the city’s baseball and football venues." Payne: "Our name is DC United and we don’t take that lightly, but the Baltimore opportunity is a real one and we have to take it seriously." Payne has discussed "at least four sites with DC officials," and any deal in the District is "likely to require some assistance from the city." DC could "try to lean on the private sector to provide some financing, as it did in creating a gross receipts tax to help finance" Nationals Park, but DC Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Barbara Lang said that "businesses were still irked at having some of the ballpark funds repurposed for other city spending." Payne stressed that United "isn’t looking for the city to fully finance a project but does want to partner with the District on a plan that would include a new stadium elsewhere in the city and also a separate complex on the RFK grounds with multiple fields for team and public use." He dismissed the idea of renovating RFK because he said it would "require very substantial infrastructure changes" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/13).
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