SBD/July 26, 2013/Facilities

Significant Hurdles Remain In MLS DC United Stadium Deal With City Council Yet To Approve

DC United aims to begin play in the new stadium in '16
Several "key city lawmakers" Thursday endorsed the $300M DC United stadium plan announced earlier in the day by the team and DC Mayor Vincent Gray, but "significant financial and political hurdles remain," according to Mike DeBonis of the WASHINGTON POST. The city in the deal "agrees to acquire and clear the land" for the 20,000-seat stadium, costing an estimated $140-150M, and "leasing it to the team for $1 a year over the 'useful life' of the facility." United in the deal "agrees to build the stadium and assume all other costs of the project at a price not set out in the term sheet; the team has said it expects to spend $150 million." Payment of taxes and fees to the city is "subject to a complex revenue sharing agreement that would be finalized in a later contract" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/26). In DC, Thomas Floyd reports Gray "praised the work" of United Managing Partner Jason Levien. Gray said the agreement is a "very creative plan." However, the project "still requires D.C. Council approval." Gray noted that the deal is "different than the entirely city-financed Nationals Park project, which went well over budget." Gray: "If the stadium costs more at the end of the day, that will be on D.C. United’s nickel -- not the taxpayers of the city." Floyd notes if the land acquisition and council approval "aren’t finalized by Jan. 1, United can back out" of the deal. United are "aiming to begin play in the stadium in 2016, with Levien calling 2017 an 'outer end' possibility." Pending council approval and site preparation, construction is "projected to take 18 months" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/26).

LEVIEN CONFIDENT IN TEAM'S CHANCES: In DC, Steven Goff noted "formidable obstacles remain" before the deal is final, including the "city council’s blessing, land acquisition and other issues." But Levien said, "My level of confidence is high." He added the project "makes a lot of sense. It’s a win-win-win." The team and city "envision concerts, college football, soccer and lacrosse games, high school football, and international soccer matches" being held at the new stadium (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/25). In K.C., Tod Palmer writes the new stadium will represent a "long-sought and much-needed transition from playing in rundown RFK Stadium." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said of the deal, "That’s something the club has been working on for really 20 years" (K.C. STAR, 7/26).
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