DC Council unanimously approves deal for DC United stadium
The D.C. Council unanimously approved Dec. 17 a $300 million soccer stadium for D.C. United at Buzzard Point in Southeast D.C., ending the team’s 18 year search for a permanent home.
The 20,000-seat venue will be blocks away from Nationals Park. The city will foot half the bill to acquire and build infrastructure on the land, while D.C. United will pay the other $150 million to construct the stadium.
The deal is expected to spur development in that area of Southeast, bringing wraparound businesses such as restaurants, hotels and shops. Councilmembers generally lauded the project as an investment for the community.
“What we have on the table right now is a $150 million in economic investment for the city,” Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) said.
At-large Councilmember David A. Catania expressed concerns of the city borrowing money while it will need to fund new public schools, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and other public services.
“We are putting ourselves in a very, very tight place,” Catania said. “It’s with some caution that I continue to support this.”
Managing General Partner of D.C. United Jason Levien said today after the vote that he believes the stadium will open in time for the 2017 season.
For nearly two decades, D.C. soccer fans saw other Major League Soccer teams build soccer specific stadiums, while their home team played in crumbling 1960s era RFK Stadium.
“[The stadium] is finally coming to fruition it seems. I’m very pleased. It’s about time,” Cliff Moy, a United fan since the team’s birth in 1996, said.
The bill also includes $4.3 million to expand Circulator bus service to reach Buzzard Point. But transportation concerns remain, as the closest metro stop, Navy Yard Station, is a mile away.
“We think [the Circulator] is a good start,” Levien said. [Transportation] is a work in progress as we move forward.”
AU students will be able to take the Metro’s red line to Gallery Place station and transfer to the green line to Navy Yard station to attend games.
Josh Levesque, a freshman in School of International Service, said the match day experience at RFK was underwhelming when he attended a match in October.
“The fans were great, but you could tell [RFK] wasn’t meant to be a soccer stadium,” Levesque said. “I’m really excited about seeing this and I hope it has a great atmosphere.”
A previous version of this article said that the D.C. United stadium was approved on Dec. 18.