Major League Soccer’s D.C. United spent its first 16 years at RFK Stadium, but that will soon change.
UPDATE: Thursday, July 25, at 11:10 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
The day D.C. United and their fans have been dreaming about for years may finally have arrived.
United and Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced on Thursday morning the signing of a $300 million public-private partnership to build a 20-25,000-seat soccer stadium in the Buzzard Point area of Southwest D.C., about a mile and a half south of the US Capitol near the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers.
The new home of the four-time MLS Cup champions will be located adjacent to the Fort McNair Army base, bounded by Half Street and Second Street SW between R and T Streets a few blocks west of the Nationals Park baseball stadium, and is anticipated to be completed in time for the 2016 season.
'We are proud to say that D.C. United has achieved a major milestone towards establishing a permanent, state-of-the-art home in Washington, D.C.,' United managing partner Jason Levien said in a club statement. 'This is a significant step forward, and we are going to continue to work diligently and collaboratively with the Mayor’s office and the D.C. Council to expedite this process and make this stadium a reality.'
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Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post originally reported, D.C. United and District officials have reached a preliminary agreement to build a new stadium for the team:
D.C. United executives and District officials have reached a preliminary $300 million deal to build a 20,000-seat stadium for the team on Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington.
The agreement, team and city leaders said, could end a decade-long search by the Major League Soccer franchise for a new venue that would allow it to leave RFK Stadium, where D.C. United has played since its founding in 1996 but where its investors say the team loses money every year.
O’Connell also notes that the new stadium would be part of an “economic development achievement” for Mayor Vincent C. Gray and would add to a string of developments along the waterfront.
The District is said to be willing to put $150 million toward the land and site preparation, while D.C. United will be responsible for the rest of the expenses in building the stadium. According to O’Connell, the team would have the land on a 25- to 35-year lease with the option of adding additional revenue-building businesses to the area.
Steven Goff of The Washington Post expanded on the financial impact of moving from RFK and into a new stadium, and quoted D.C. United managing partner Jason Levien as being “laser-focused” on securing a new venue.
According to Goff, the move from RFK would be about more than moving into a new, more modern home. With few sources of revenue in the current stadium, D.C. United has reportedly lost “several million dollars annually.”
With the complicated deal still in the early stages, Goff also notes the team isn’t likely to begin playing in the new stadium until 2016.
Per both reports, the stadium proposal is for a stadium of at least 20,000 seats, though O’Connell indicates D.C. United has yet to decide if it will boost the seating to 25,000 from the onset or leave room for future expansion.