Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NEW NEWS!!!!!!!!!

Wow I know it's been awhile since I last wrote and I'm sure no body cares just as it was before but I thought I should pop my head back in and drop the PG County's economic feasibility study that was released yesterday. Aside from just the fact that there's actually some new and worthy news to talk about it should also be mentioned that IT'S POSITIVE, well at least somewhat. I haven't had more than a few minutes to skim through it yet, but the overall summary sounds as if it's thought that a PG county stadium would be a positive investment for the state. Aside from that there are of course some negatives as in the total estimated attendance number. It seems that they have found that United would loose fans if the club is moved out of the district, and I personally don't disagree.

Sure everyone has they're own reasons for why they'd be less inclined to drive just that bit more around the beltway, but why does it seem to be such a universal value among it's fans that United should remain playing in the district? Why are fans so stubborn on this issue? Maybe it's the same reason Kevin Payne is...

It seems to me that if you move United out of downtown Washington the club will in one way or another die. I don't mean the team will fold, no I think it's safe to assume that if the league survives then United will survive I wouldn't worry about that, but the soul of the club could invariably be lost very much the same way that Redskins lost their magic after moving to Landover. Anyone who would argue the latter of that point obviously never attended a Skins game at RFK. The place rocked, the Skins won, and you could still afford to go to more than one game a year.

Something very similar I fear could happen to United if they leave the district. I mean lets face it, for whatever reason attendance WILL drop. There's nothing to argue against it. Less people will come. Sure die hards and supporters will make the beltway trek, but the fair weathers, the soccer moms from VA, why would they sit an hour on the outer loop to make it out for a Thursday night game? We have to be realistic about this and admit that after the magic wears off this new stadium (however nice it is) it will be the same as Frisco and Commerce City... with a slightly more enthusiastic supporters section. DC could easily be lost in the sea of mediocre soccer stadiums that sadly do exist in this country.

With all of that outlined the club would then have to raise ticket prices as they already would have had to do in compensation for playing in a brand new stadium. This would only exacerbate the problem.

I've been going to games since I was a kid and I've dedicated a great deal of my young life to supporting United, but even I would be hard pressed to renew my season tickets if such a stadium is built. I've thought about it for quite awhile now and I have to admit that it's not a certainty. I have also wondered to myself that if I feel this way then how do many other supporters feel? If I'm starting to hedge my bets than there must be a lot of others that won't continue attending games. It's a scary prospect for a club that has built up what I am proud to say is one of the most genuine and authentic sporting atmospheres in the country.

Let's hope this new study from PG county forces the councils hand and United can get to work on it's real stadium at Poplar Point. All in all though we should be happy that the wheels are finally moving again... even though their in the wrong county.

Here's the PDF:


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Garber Speaks...

Garber at this years SuperDraft.

So again, there's no real news here to discuss, but The Washington Post's Soccer Insider writer Steve Goff did offer this bit from United's kickoff luncheon earlier today...

On the prospects of a stadium at Poplar Point, Commish Don Garber said:

"We are making progress. I sat next to a number of city officials [during today's DCU luncheon] who believe in this team, believe in this sport, they believe in Victor MacFarlane and Will Chang. It's frustrating and continually surprising to me that such an authentic team that is so deeply embedded in this community, that has been a great partner in the District is struggling to get a stadium built. And yet we have teams that are being launched around the country that have had a much easier and faster path. I applaud Victor's patience and his willingness to continue to work through the process, but when you think about how great this could be, it's disappointing that we are going to have to wait so far for that true vision of the team to be realized."

"RFK has served this team well and it served the Nationals well for a few years, but it would be inconceivable for baseball to play long term in RFK and it's inconceivable that MLS could play long term in that stadium. So we either resolve it here or we push this ownership group to move out of the District and that's something I say with a heavy heart because this is a community that has really supported this team."

Garber said he has toured the two potential stadium sites in Prince George's County, Maryland.

"They are great sites, they are accessible to public transportation, they've got great access for signage, which is a valuable component to stadium financing, and I am very pleased that the outreach the state and local community has had to move the team there."

How much longer can MLS and DCU wait for this process in the District to play itself out?

"I'd like to get this resolved in a matter of months, but I am not sure it will be."

Asked if he had any news on the Poplar Point project, Victor MacFarlane said:

"No, nothing. I'm boring these days."

As for exploring the alternate sites in Maryland, he added:

"We are continuing our process in other places."

DCU President Kevin Payne said that Poplar Point is the only option inside the city limits. (There had been talk that the city might propose an alternate site.) He also said DCU and the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission met this week about a long-term lease to stay at RFK until a new stadium opens and that he expects that to be finalized in the coming weeks.


Well I haven't posted for quite some time now because every single facet of the Poplar Point debate seems to be dead. Neither the Mayor, Ward 8 Leaders, or D.C. United have said anything remotely newsworthy since David Nakamura's last entry on February 15th. United seems to be totally focused on preparing for the season, and continuing in the late stages of the Concacaf Champions Cup. While Fenty's hands are full trying to back his proposed budget increase, scaling back government jobs, and continuing his dismantling... err I mean, reformation of the D.C. school system. All this while Ward 8 remains what it has been for some time, quiet and unheard.

Here's to hoping we get some news soon. I'm starting to think the Revs might be in a new Park before we are...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

2/5/08: Washington City Paper - Access and Allies: The Washington Post's cozy year with the Fenty administration

Brooks (center) leaked a key scoop to the Post at a top-secret Sunday rendezvous.(Darrow Montgomery)

By Mike DeBonis

Last June, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty made big headlines. On the first day of his takeover of the D.C. Public Schools, he announced he was firing superintendent Clifford Janey and replacing him with the young, virtually unknown Michelle Rhee.

But before he held a press conference, interested observers had a chance to read all about it in a thorough 1,200-word article on page A1 of the Washington Post, as well as in a Post editorial praising Fenty for his bold choice.

That, of course, pissed off activists, legislators, and, yes, reporters—all of whom suspected that the Fenty press machine had handed the story straight to Post city-hall reporter David Nakamura, who has repeatedly come under attack for essentially being the Fenty administration’s pet reporter (Dept. of Media, “Hand-Scooped,” 6/20/2007).

At the time, Fenty’s communications director, Carrie Brooks, wouldn’t play the feud in the pages of this august publication. She declined to lay out whether the scoop came gift-wrapped from on high or whether Nakamura had just out-hustled the competition. “That would be a question for Dave Nakamura,” she says.

Nakamura declined to comment at the time. The Post’s top Metro editor, Robert McCartney, said, “We are nobody’s PR arm.”

OK, fine. Eight months later, LL has the e-mails!

Just after the New Year, LL submitted a records request for all e-mails sent to Washington Post employees from high-level mayoral aides and communications staffers during 2007. Call it the Year of Scooping Effortlessly.

Why dump this stuff now? LL doesn’t have a great answer to that question. A philosophical predisposal toward disseminating public information? There’s that, sure. Maybe it’s a “beat-sweetener” that stands to endear LL with the activists and legislators snubbed by the Fenty operation. Got that, Councilmember Barry? Perhaps it’s to soothe the bruised reporter egos of LL and his reporter colleagues. OK, you can take that last one to the bank.

Anyhow, here’s the goods:

In the weeks before Fenty made his announcement, intense speculation centered around one big name that had been floated during the last search for a school chief, back in 2004: Miami superintendent Rudolph F. Crew. For weeks, Crew was the odds-on favorite to take over DCPS, assuming Fenty intended to quickly dismiss Janey.

Crew, however, was a safe but not unassailable choice—his background had a lot in common with failed DCPS leaders past: Janey, Paul Vance, Arlene Ackerman, Franklin Smith.

As much as a week before the Rhee announcement, Nakamura was inside the mayor’s deliberations on the schools leadership. Like a true beat reporter, he was even protecting his sources from other sharks in the roiling and vast waters of the Washington Post. On June 7, Nakamura sent this note to Brooks: “fyi, bewteen us, …jo-ann armao was about to crush you guys for picking crew. i called off the attack…”

Brooks’ reply: “Thanks!!”

Jo-Ann E. Armao is the Post’s top editorial board expert on education and D.C. issues. So much for that vaunted news-editorial firewall.

Says Nakamura, “If I was trying to correct a factual thing, then I would have expressed information to [Armao] to avoid any inaccuracies.” Armao says there never were plans to editorialize about Crew, and she says she can’t recall any circumstances that would account for that e-mail. As for the firewall, she says, “It was not breached here.…An exchange of information is not problematic.”

McCartney seconds Armao’s analysis and says Nakamura’s message falls within the bounds of proper interdepartmental discourse at the Post: “We can communicate with the editorial page over matters of fact,” he says, stressing that “calling off the attack” didn’t mean that Nakamura was trying to persuade an ed-board member. “He did not do that, and we would never do that.”

The e-mail machinations continued. About an hour after sending word of his politicking at the editorial board, Nakamura e-mailed Brooks again, this time asking for “an acceptable way for us to write a story that rules crew out”—indicating that he already had knowledge from the mayor’s office that Crew was out of the picture.

No story mentioning Crew appeared after that. But it was clear that the mayor’s people had hammered out a sole-source contract with the Post to broadcast news about the schools chancellor. On the afternoon of Sunday, June 10, Brooks wrote Nakamura, “Can you meet at af house instead? Now he’s really running late. 6 PM. Work?”

“sure. i’ll come to his house… 6 p.m.,” he replied.

A Crestwood rendezvous was not meant to be. Brooks wrote back about a half-hour later: “Sorry to do this, but just moved us back to [the John A. Wilson Building]. One of us will meet you at back door as planned.”

What happened after that planned city hall back-door sneak-in is up for debate. But the next day, around noontime, Armao had some pertinent questions for Brooks: “1. her age. 2. where is she from originally 3. do you know how many employees there are in dc schools and 4. is klein still the only person to talk to? And, anything else I should know...... I might call [Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso] in a bit.” Brooks’ responses to those queries clearly refer to Rhee.

Let’s pause for a second on No. 4. By asking whether Klein is “still the only person to talk to,” Armao hints at the contours of the exclusivity deal driven by the Fenty people vis-√†-vis the Post. “Klein,” in this context, is Joel I. Klein, the New York City schools chancellor and a consigliere for the Fenty leadership search. Judging from the news story, it appears that the Fenty press people told the Post they could use only Klein as an outside source on the Rhee selection; Armao confirms that the terms of the Fenty administration’s embargo limited which outside sources the Posties could contact.

And here’s what Klein coughed up to the Post about Rhee: “That’s the choice D.C. needs, given that, year in and year out, they have not gotten results.”

Back to the frenzied e-mail traffic. Just before 7:30 on Monday night, Nakamura sent Brooks a note: “four hours to go…”

Replied Brooks: “Eek.”

Around 11:30, Nakamura sent Brooks another one: “Anything yet???”

“I think they are meeting with gray now,” she wrote. That would mean that the Washington Post was informed of Rhee’s selection approximately 30 hours before D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, the man whose panel actually had to confirm her.

The afternoon after the story hit, Nakamura was already working on his “Day 2” story: “so, predictably the backlash has begun about fenty not talking to enough people ahead of time. in fact, many say he didn’t follow the law from the takeover legislation.... what sayeth you?”

Wrote Brooks: “Let me know if you need people to say good things! Ill check out the other.”

“i got plenty of good comments about Rhee—it’s more the fenty process that ticked people off…” came back Nakamura.

Ah yes, “the fenty process”—now there’s a subject Nakamura didn’t need Fenty himself to tell him about.

Some other choice cuts from the Post-Fenty correspondence file:

• For those who worry about the White House Correspondents Dinner and the uncomfortably close relations it engenders between reporters and those they cover, put this in your dossier: On Feb. 2, 2007, Nakamura queried Brooks: “any decision yet on who AF will go with to WH Corres. Dinner? my editor is pressing us… Adrian would go with [McCartney] if he accepts our invite.” Despite the flirtations of other news outlets, including USA Today, Fenty took the Post up on its offer.

• In perhaps Brooks’ most taxing stretch as Fenty’s media czar—the days following the shooting of 14-year-old DeOnt√© Rawlings by an off-duty cop—the mayoral media strategy aroused the ire of none other than the executive editor himself, Leonard Downie. In a Sept. 19 e-mail, Nakamura wrote to Brooks, “can you please call asap? our top editor is not happy and i want to give you the full story so you can prepare Fenty…” A later message explains Downie’s beef to be related to the early decision to keep the cops’ names under wraps.

• On Jan. 31 of last year, Nakamura e-mailed Brooks with this jokey breaking news: “Fenty is really putting [DCWatch maven Dorothy Brizill] in her place....priceless!” “I had nothing to do with it,” she fired back. “Good grief,” Nakamura quipped, “these regular citizens asking questions has got to stop!” Replied Brooks, “I agree. But he’s a man of the people.”

• Also on the rabble-rouser beat: On May 16, Nakamura wrote a story (“New Fenty Schools Plan Cuts Copied Langauge”) about how the Fenty folks had revised the famously plagiarized education plan, in which he quoted oft-quoted Ward 4 education activist Cherita Whiting. The day the story ran, Nakamura checked in with Brooks to see how the story played in the mayor’s office. Replied Brooks, “Sucky hed, but story was good. And it wouldn’t be an ed story without a quote from Cherita Whiting.”

• On March 7, 2007, the Post broke news that Fenty would name Dennis L. Rubin as his new fire chief. Reporter Allison Klein, who covers public safety, attributed the story to “government sources.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s the one who procured the scoop. Wrote Nakamura in an e-mail to Brooks the day the story appeared, “I kept my name totally off the story today so no one can yell at you!” To that, Brooks wrote, “Ha!”

Brooks explains her strategy on the Rhee announcement etc. thusly: “I think in the first year, especially when you’re laying the groundwork for the rest of your term, you tend to be more careful and more deliberate on your media strategy…you want to be the first to tell your story.”

Asked if she had any regrets, Brooks says, “I’m very upset I made Jonetta Rose Barras so mad on the day of the Rhee announcement,” referring to the fiery WAMU-FM host and Examiner columnist. “I’d have to say that was the most taxing—hearing Jonetta scream at 6 a.m.”

Got a tip for Loose Lips? Send suggestions to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. Or call (202) 332-2100, x 460, 24 hours a day.

Friday, March 7, 2008

3/7/08: The Washington Post - A Sporting Issue: D.C.'s interests should dictate a decision on a soccer stadium.

AS CONSTRUCTION of the Washington Nationals' new baseball stadium nears completion, discussion is warming up on whether to use city money to help D.C. United build a soccer stadium in Southeast. No doubt the coincidence in timing will be part of any upcoming debate. Supporters believe soccer fans deserve the same consideration that baseball fans are shown; opponents think the expense of the Nationals stadium is reason to rule out public investment in another stadium. In making a decision, District leaders should focus only on the soccer stadium plan and whether it makes sense for the city.

Talk of subsidizing a soccer stadium at Poplar Point in Ward 8 has been on-again, off-again. D.C. United believed it had an understanding with the administration of then-Mayor Anthony A. Williams, but Mayor Adrian M. Fenty cut off talks as he wisely sought other ideas on developing the prime waterfront property. The stadium is back in the picture as an optional part of a proposed $2.5 billion, mixed-use development. Mr. Fenty, an ardent foe of the $611 million ballpark for the Nationals, has said he wouldn't support any deal in which the city picks up the full tab but is open to a public-private partnership. Mr. Fenty has made clear he won't be out in front in pushing the plan without support from the D.C. Council. Indeed, much of the impetus to make a deal with D.C. United comes from the council, including members from east of the Anacostia River, such as influential council Chairman Vincent C. Gray.

Mr. Fenty has floated the idea of using excess tax money being raised for the Nationals' ballpark to help finance construction. An obvious question is whether the District can afford to take on the additional debt. And is that even fair to District businesses, which were assessed a special tax with the understanding that the money would go to pay off the baseball debt? The costs will have to be carefully analyzed, particularly since there is economic uncertainty. What will be harder to judge are the intangibles. Such as civic pride in retaining a popular and successful sports team. Or the spinoffs that soccer could provide to the boys and girls of the city. And what could perhaps be the most appealing argument for the stadium -- its potential to spark a revitalization of long-neglected communities east of the river. If soccer can help transform Ward 8 and Ward 7 the way basketball helped to change downtown, city dollars would be well spent.

Much of the discussion about these issues has, regrettably, been behind closed doors, as the mayor and council want to avoid the kind of debilitating battle that occurred over baseball. That desire must not rob the public of full and open discussion of the issues. Or of an answer to the question of what best serves the District of Columbia.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

MacFarlane Aswers Fisher...

Victor MacFarlane and Marc Fisher

By. Chris Pittman

So I'm sure most of you have already read and caught up with the news that our fantastic majority owner Victor MacFarlane has un-officially posted a response to Marc Fisher's blog entry from earlier today. Again I will say that I didn't really find Mr. Fisher's posting to negative in any way, but I did have a problem with the responses, and the overall tone of the title. Obviously our owner did too as he weighed in with this response...

Marc, my policy is not to participate in this manner, but so I guess this will have to be an exception.

I enjoyed your posting and I don't view you as a hater of soccer. I thought the posting was fair and balanced reporting.

My only quibble, if it is one, is with the title as it implies something that isn't true - first that there is a "bluff" and second that our search for alternatives outside of the district has anything to do with anything other than needing a stadium inside the beltway on a metro line(we won't build a greensfield stadium). I think we have been very clear that we would prefer to stay in the district and have spent millions trying to make that happen. So the Mayor's statement is accurate - we don't want to leave the district. And your statement is correct as well, we will leave if we have no viable district alternative. That isn't a threat by any stretch, just a statement of the factual situation in which we find ourselves.

Do I believe a D.C. United stadium in Anacostia would make a difference to the development of the overall program and its progress to completion? Yes. As, is my guess, do most, if not all, of the developers involved. Will it eventually happen anyway? Yes. But the pace of development and the net present value will be greater for the city, the developers and the neighborhood, in my view and experience, if a D.C. United stadium is there.

Either way, stadium in the District or outside the District, D.C. United won't abandon the District nor the east of the river communities. We will continue our programs there no matter where our stadium is located.

This portion of my professional career is dedicated to making a difference in urban communities. We won't propose to put our stadium there if we didn't believe that it would make a positive difference from an economic and social perspective. I can understand someone else having a different point of view but it bothers me when my/our motives are questioned.

D.C. United's mission statement is simple: to serve our community and to win championships. We may not be able to accomplish the latter every year, though we try very hard to do so, but I assure you we succeed every year in the former.

I want to thank you and others for continuing to provide a forum for everyone's views to be shared, including mine. My partners and I want to thank everyone who is supportive of D.C. United, and assure you that our commitments to excellence on the field and service off of it, is real and permanent

And finally, I want to thank the Mayor and the City Council for putting in the hard work that is necessary to strike a "fair" deal. It doesn't mean one will happen, but the effort is much appreciated by D.C. United and its owners.

Posted by: Victor MacFarlane | March 5, 2008 06:23 PM

Now we of course have no real proof that this is in fact Victor MacFarlane himself. Nor do we even know if the person that wrote this is even in any way affiliated with United, or MacFarlane's group. But if I was a betting man I'd have to say that this is legitimate, and it's a great sign to all us fans out here that the organization is listening. We all truly do have a say in this, and again I'd like to urge anyone who already hasn't. Please write to you're local council member if you already haven't. People are listening on this issue, it is important, and we can make a difference.

EDIT: I forgot to mention how highly I think of Victor MacFarlane, Will Chang, Kevin Payne, and the rest of United's ownership group. They truly are the definition of class, and if any organization deserves to build a stadium at Poplar Point, it's D.C. United. Vamos United!