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:

http://www.mdstad.com/pdf/MSASoccerS...portSept08.pdf

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Garber Speaks...

http://i.a.cnn.net/si/2007/writers/jonah_freedman/10/26/garber.qa/p1_garber2_1026.jpg
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.

Quiet...

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...

http://www.aarepdc.org/images/board/vmacfarlane.jpg
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!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"Black People Don't Like Soccer" ...?

http://www.wusa9.com/news/columnist/blogs/uploaded_images/07621174658_barrythu2-779853.jpg
Former Mayor Marion Barry, and current War 8 Rep.

By. Chris Pittman

Alright, so this ones been rattling around in my head for a while now. For some time I've heard these small arguments arise from people. Arguments that start with the "well you know's" and the "I mean don't take this the wrong way's". Up until recently they've seemed to be just small opinions on the matter of a DC United stadium in Ward 8, but today it really struck me while reading through the comments section of Marc Fisher's recent blog posting. I realized that there are more than a few folks out there weighing in on the subject that really find the idea that African Americans don't like soccer to be a relevant and appropriate argument against a stadium in Anacostia.

What century are we living in!?!

Forgive me for ranting here but how can anyone argue against building a stadium in a certain area under the basis that they personally think the majority race living in that area, as a whole dislikes the particular sport that will be played in that stadium? Now I am no fool, I am very much aware that soccer is not a powerhouse urban sport in our country. That's a fair argument, but can I just say that anyone out there that wants to argue the validity of a United park in Ward 8 on the basis that all African American's (and yes, I believe thats whats at the heart of this stance) simply dislike soccer is an ignorant bigot.

I apologize for being harsh but I am just very tired of this line of thought. Open up you're eyes people. This is the 21st century. A person no matter what their race, can follow and support any sport they like. Currently there are more people in Ward 8 in support of a United stadium than there are against it. If United is successful in their bid to build on Poplar Point, let us all rub it in the faces of those who scratched their heads in confusion at the idea of a "white sport" being played in a "black" neighborhood. Soccer is a sport that has always brought people together, and I believe it will do just that in Ward 8.

Remember to write you're local council member in support of a stadium at Poplar Point if you are a district resident.



3/5/08: The Washington Post - Soccer Stadium Update: Calling United's Bluff

Raw Fisher

Mayor Adrian Fenty very much wants to keep the D.C. United soccer franchise in the District, but he does not consider a soccer stadium nearly as powerful an engine of economic development as the Washington Nationals' new ballpark on the Southeast waterfront. And the mayor seems unfazed by the mating dance between United's owners and Maryland politicians about moving the team to Prince George's County.

"I don't think they really want to go to Maryland," Fenty tells me.

The mayor says he is committed to examining proposals for a stadium at Poplar Point, across the Anacostia River from Nationals Park. "But it has to be something fair," he says.

Does that mean a very significant team contribution to the building costs? "Yes," the mayor says.

Fenty, who was an early and vocal opponent of the city paying to build the Nationals' stadium, is now a big booster of Nationals Park and the residential, retail and entertainment district that is expected to develop around it. He sees two important differences between the baseball and soccer situations: Baseball more easily lends itself to ancillary development because its season has 81 home games, whereas the soccer team plays only 16 games at RFK Stadium.

And Fenty is not persuaded that the Poplar Point development needs a stadium to succeed: "We have three excellent plans to develop Poplar Point by nationally recognized developers who are ready and willing to make a great development without a soccer stadium," the mayor says.

Still, he adds, he feels "a huge impetus to do something to keep the team here. They are clearly a valuable private enterprise contributor to the city."

Politically, Fenty is in a bind. Some of his supporters fondly remember his opposition to the baseball stadium, while others have happily embraced his late conversion to the cause of the Nats' park.

If he were to take a strong position against the soccer stadium, Fenty would run the risk of being blamed for the loss of United to Maryland. And he would be in for a blast of icy wind from Council member Marion Barry, whose Ward 8 includes the Poplar Point site and who has come out strongly for the stadium development.

But if the mayor made a strong pitch for the soccer stadium, he would incur the wrath of some of his most devoted and important supporters, the environmental community, which has lined up strongly against the stadium and in support of keeping as much of Poplar Point as possible as unspoiled parkland.

So Fenty is holding back, waiting to see how engaged the D.C. council and other factions in the city become on the issue.

Most likely scenario: Delay. The worsening economic situation makes it ever harder to justify pumping big money into a stadium that would not significantly expand the tax base. Since Maryland's not likely to be eager to put up big bucks right now either, the wait and see move is probably Fenty's friend. But this is one that can't be put off indefinitely: The city will want to do something big with the RFK Stadium site in the next few years, and that would leave United homeless.

Fenty assures me that he has no intention of using the possible demolition of RFK as a threat against D.C. United. That, he says, is not how he wants the District to do business.

Is there a deus ex machina in this play? Some on the mayor's staff still say it's possible to find United another site in the city. The District is not exactly chockablock with wide open spaces available for sports facilities. The thin roster of possibilities when Major League Baseball was scouting for locations proved that out. But a soccer stadium's footprint could be smaller. Ideas, anyone?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

2/28/07: The Baltimore Sun - $70,000 Study Set On D.C. United Move

The Maryland Stadium Authority ordered a $70,000 study yesterday to determine whether Prince George's County would be a suitable home for the D.C. United soccer club.

The study by Crossroads Consulting will examine the county's potential as a soccer market and the potential tax and economic development benefits of attracting the Major League Soccer team.
It will not focus on specific stadium sites. Those would have to be vetted later, though the club has shown interest over the years in several locations near College Park.

It's unclear who would pay for a soccer stadium in Prince George's. "Our commitment here is just to do the study," stadium authority chairman Frederick W. Puddester said.

The report is expected to be complete by July. United has agreed to reimburse the authority for its effort if the club ends up staying in Washington.

United spokesman Doug Hicks said the club is pleased the study will go forward.

United's status in the District of Columbia is murky. Club officials reached out to Maryland leaders about a possible move last fall after funding plans for a new stadium in the city seemed to fall through. But Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty recently refloated the idea of paying $190 million for a stadium as part of a redevelopment project in Southeast Washington.

Fenty previously criticized the use of public money for a new $611 million baseball stadium. Like the Washington Nationals before them, United wants out of RFK Stadium.

Given the uncertainty, United officials remain interested in assessing their options in the Washington suburbs.

Puddester said club executives told him they were caught off guard when Fenty reinitiated talk of funding for a Washington stadium.

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson and state Comptroller Peter Franchot have expressed interest in luring the soccer club.

In other business yesterday, the stadium authority heard that construction on the new video and scoreboards at Camden Yards is on schedule. The last pieces of the video screen were expected to go in yesterday, with work on the right-field scoreboard and the main scoreboard set to wrap up next week or the week after.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2/27/08: Washington City Paper - To Build or Not To Build... Who wants a soccer stadium in Ward 8?

image: An aerial view of the proposed development in Poplar PointAn aerial view of the proposed development in Poplar Point
(Courtesy Clark Realty)

The development of Poplar Point would fundamentally change the character of Ward 8, long known as the most economically disadvantaged and restaurant/retail-deprived area of the city. For years, residents have pondered what should become of this 110-acre parcel of land on the banks of the Anacostia River. Now, the city is considering a major development plan created by Clark Realty, which would include two distinct shopping areas, mixed housing, 70 acres of public parkland and a space option for D.C. United’s next soccer stadium, which would require public funding. While the possibility of a sports arena enthralls some, it repels others. This week, we talk to members of communities and hear their takes on the issue:

PRO:

There’s no adjective that I can think of that really describes how intensely I am for it. Having the stadium here in Ward 8 will make this ward a destination point for people in the metropolitan area. In my mind, there are practically no stores that they could put on that point that people could not access is their own communities. So, just putting in retail will not make Poplar Point a destination point, neither will it make it a destination point by just having mixed-income housing. Although the waterfront is there and there will be green space and we would want visitors, why would people think that someone living in Fairfax is going to necessarily come over to enjoy the green space at Poplar point, when there’s plenty of green space in that county? But, soccer will draw people because if you’re soccer fan, you’ll have to come over to where the action is.
-Philip Pannell, Executive Director of Anacostia Coordinating Council

I support the complete development package, which is very important to the new Ward 8. We would get some amenities that we’ve been missing for over 30 years…I work in the District, but I can’t spend my money in the District. All you have is Macy’s downtown! Where can I spend my money? I don’t necessarily want to see department stores. You can have boutiques and other stores. The majority of the local people are [in support of the stadium development plan]. I’ll doubt if you’ll find one that’s not. The soccer crowds will be good for the city, just like the baseball stadium. When you have these different sport activities, people enjoy that. That’s their relaxation, and that’s what they need.
-Mary Cuthbert, Ward 8 ANC commissioner

These days, nobody’s coming to Ward 8 unless you live here. Your cousin might visit you. Once we get the soccer thing and the retail, we’ll have things to give a person a reason to come over to Ward 8. Right now, we got nothing, nothing, nothing…You look at a tourist map downtown, we’re not on it. But then, they’ll expand that map. [Laughs.] We need people to come in and spend money. It’s nice to have visitors; we don’t want them to move here. But, they can visit. Then, we can feel like we’re part of the District. Right now, we’re the only ones here—we can see each other everyday. This would bring a different type of visitor…They pay taxes; the stadium people will be paying taxes; the vendors will pay for their licenses. It will bring in revenue, so Ward 8 can pay its fair share, because right now, we don’t have much to pay in taxes.
-Sandra Seegars, candidate for Ward 8 Councilmember

CON:

I’m always in favor of development and improvement. If you start addressing the quality of life issues first, then I can support a soccer stadium if they were to do that. But, I don’t support anything with this cost. I mean look at the stadium across the river. I’m not in favor of throwing the money in the black hole again. Take care of what needs to be taken care of now, and that’s the people that are here now, not the people, who when you do your projection at the office of planning, and see the type of income that it’s going to sustain the community, blah-bidee-blah, 10, 15 years later. You know, we’re talking now: I would like to see more than one hospital and nursing homes. The two nursing homes that I know over here are horrible. Let’s fix them. Let’s staff them. We’re talking about mental health clinics, recreation centers, low income housing.
-David Brown, resident for 30 years

I’ve been to meetings. I’ve heard people’s pros and cons, and I’ve pretty much been against it from the beginning. And now that I’ve heard it’s going to be built partially with public funds, I’m even more against it. I’m a real outdoorsey type person. Once you lay concrete, it’s hard to take it up, and have a natural setting again, and even though they’re proposing it’s going to have a low impact design, it’s still going to be a major impact on the environment. It’s going to be an impact on the river—and we all know what condition that that’s in. Poplar Point is such a small area, for one. And I know people think visitors are going to be using the Metro, but the stadium’s still going to bring so much traffic. Plus, with everything else they’re going to build on Poplar Point—the area’s not that big.
-Crystal Banks, lifelong Southeast resident

Friday, February 22, 2008

2/23/07: The Washington Post - Funding Plan for Soccer Stadium Denounced

Ward 8 residents are pushing to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River.
Some District residents are skeptical of public funding.(By Alexandra Garcia -- Washingtonpost.com)

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 23, 2008

Ninety D.C. residents and 17 organizations co-signed a letter to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) denouncing a proposal to use public tax money to fund construction of a soccer stadium in Southeast.

In a private meeting with the council last week, Fenty had laid out the possibility of using excess tax revenue that was being collected to service debt on the Nationals ballpark to borrow $150 million in construction bonds for a 27,000-seat stadium for D.C. United. The coalition said in the letter that city leaders should either pay off the baseball stadium debt faster or use the excess taxes for other city services.

"Every penny of public subsidy going into a soccer stadium is a penny that could be used to improve services that DC residents really care about -- health care, education, a clean environment, good libraries, decent housing, and healthy recreation spaces," the letter said.

--

Saturday, February 16, 2008

2/16/08: Washington City Paper - MacFarlane Speaks—”Hopeful” of Council Approval

Victor B. MacFarlane (left) smiles with fellow owner Brian K. Davis as Christian Laettner (right) joins the celebration at the announcement of new leadership for D.C. United.
MacFarland (left) Davis (right).

By Mike DeBonis
on Feb. 15, 2008, at 6:00 pm

LL wasn’t the only tall, handsome, impeccably dressed gentleman roaming the Wilson Building halls this afternoon.

D.C. United owner and real-estate mogul Victor MacFarlane was making the rounds of D.C. Council offices late today, trying to gauge and drum up support for public funding for a Ward 8 soccer stadium.

LL caught up with MacFarlane on his way out of the building about 20 minutes ago and asked him what his message was to councilmembers today. MacFarlane declined to talk specifics, but spoke in broad terms: “I think we’re focusing on the main principles….We’re going to provide substantial equity that doesn’t require any new taxes.”

Yesterday, a Washington Post article revealed that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty was in talks with MacFarlane about public funding for a stadium at Poplar Point.

MacFarlane has lobbied for a soccer stadium on Poplar Point since the days of Mayor Anthony A. Williams, but the talks came as a surprise, because MacFarlane’s company had declined to submit a bid to serve as master developer of the Poplar Point project after Fenty decided to open the land to other developers.

MacFarlane did say that he’s “very satisfied” with the announcement yesterday of Clark Realty as the master developer and that he and Clark had already begun talks about the stadium.

Asked if he was confident of council approval for any public-private partnership on the stadium, MacFarlane said: “I’m hopeful.”

2/16/08: The Washington Times - United's Stadium Could Help Nationals


Mary F. Calvert / The Washington Times D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray: "We could actually have parking for D.C. United used for the Nationals as well."


By Tim Lemke
February 16, 2008


D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray yesterday said a new soccer stadium at Poplar Point would help alleviate parking problems across the Anacostia River at the Nationals new ballpark.

"We have a horrific parking problem with the Nationals stadium," Gray said. "I'm not sure people know how close Poplar Point is. If we coordinate schedules, we could actually have parking for D.C. United used for the Nationals as well."

During an interview with reporters and editors of The Washington Times, Gray said there is now strong council support for helping D.C. United find a new home at Poplar Point, and that he has not ruled out using some public funds to construct the new facility.

"I think there are a lot of council members who are excited about how we can do this, and we'd like to reach some sort of conclusion sooner rather than later," he said. "I'm interested in trying to see what we can do to keep D.C. United here. The feasibility side of that I think really will still have to be determined, and that is what is the deal, what is the plan, and what will be required of the District."

Mayor Adrian Fenty on Thursday announced that Clark Realty will head up a massive redevelopment of the 110-acre Poplar Point site and said he is in favor of placing a stadium there.

Neither Fenty nor Gray, however, said they will support financing the stadium entirely with city money, as was done with the Nationals ballpark.

"I don't think there's likely to be any support for a deal in which we'd pay for the entire stadium," Gray said.

Poplar Point is located east of the Anacostia River, within sight of the Nationals ballpark in Southeast. Conceivably, Gray said, fans heading to Nationals game could walk from Poplar Point across a pedestrian walkway on one of the bridges crossing the Anacostia. The Nationals have identified only about 5,000 parking spaces in the ballpark neighborhood, forcing them to use shuttles bus fans from lots at the RFK site.

Gray also said fans parking in Poplar Point would boost economic development efforts east of the Anacostia.

"With Poplar Point becoming a mixed-use site, imagine 81 days with bringing five, 10 or 15,000 back to the other side of the river after games or even before games," he said.

Gray downplayed recent suggestions that the city would try to lure the Redskins back to a new stadium in the District. Early proposals have called for the city to tear down RFK and allow the Redskins to build a new stadium on the site. The city would provide the team with the land for free.

"To the extent there have been discussions with the council, I'm not aware of that at all," Gray said. "RFK has been around for 48 years, and there's absolutely no economic development that's taken place. If economic development is supposed to be the objective of this, how should I believe things will be different after 48 years?"

Meanwhile, Gray said he is hopeful that a new Major League Baseball academy will be under construction within the next year at Fort DuPont.

Gray, who campaigned for the academy when a council member representing Ward 7, said he has had several meetings with Dirk Kempthorne, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, about getting access to the necessary land through either a transfer or long-term ground lease from the federal government. Construction could begin after an environmental study, which will take six to nine months.

Gray also said the Tiger Woods Foundation has had early talks about building a new learning center in Ward 7.

Friday, February 15, 2008

2/15/08: The Washington Times - Fenty Commits To MLS Stadium

Mayor Fenty, DC United Announce New Team Ownership
Mayor Adrian Fenty now appears willing to negotiate terms with the D.C.'s MLS side.


By Tim Lemke
February 15, 2008

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty said yesterday he is committed to placing a new soccer-only stadium at Poplar Point in Southeast, resurrecting hopes that D.C. United will continue playing in the District.Fenty stressed that the city has not struck a deal with the team but said he has had positive discussions with the Major League Soccer team over the last month about building the stadium as part of a $2.5 billion redevelopment of the 110-acre Poplar Point site.

"We understand that playing at RFK Stadium can't work," Fenty said. "We want to find a new stadium for D.C. United. Since Jan. 2, I can't tell you how many meetings I've personally had with D.C. United, let alone my staff, to try and come up with a proposal that makes sense for the District of Columbia."

Fenty made his remarks after announcing that the District selected Clark Realty as the master developer for the redevelopment of the Poplar Point site. Clark beat out several other companies during a competitive bidding process and has proposed millions of square feet of retail, housing and office space along with a 70-acre park.

During the bidding process for the development, Clark had presented plans that included an option for a new soccer-specific stadium. Clark's sister company, Clark Construction, has built several stadiums including FedEx Field and Nationals Park.
"We're just really coming to the table now," Clark Realty Capital managing director Cleve Johnson said. "Obviously, we've built stadiums, and we'd love the job. We're certainly open to working with them."

Fenty said he favored some public subsidy to construct the stadium, whose cost has been estimated at nearly $200 million. He declined to discuss specific financing plans.
One financing option raised to members of the D.C. Council this week was a plan to use excess revenue from business taxes relating to the financing of the Nationals' new ballpark. Such a plan likely would meet some resistance because many city leaders had hoped the excess revenue would be used to pay down the ballpark debt early, or be reimbursed to the business community.

Julie Chase, a spokeswoman for D.C. United owner Victor MacFarlane, said the team and city are discussing proposals that would call for some city subsidy — but no new taxes — as well as a "significant" contribution from the team. She said details, including how much the team would contribute, are still in the works.

"We're certainly happy to be in these negotiations, and we're just going to take it a step at a time," Chase said.

Talk of a stadium had appeared on life support as recently as last summer, when Fenty announced that he broke off talks with United in favor of pursuing a competitive bidding process for the redevelopment of Poplar Point. D.C. United responded by holding talks with officials in places outside the District, including Prince George's County.But council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, said he believed Poplar Point would be redeveloped with a soccer stadium as part of the plan, and supported the use of public funds.

"I want to thank the mayor for being committed the concept of a stadium," Barry said. "A lot of work has to be done. We're on the same page. I've canvassed most of the members of the council, and I'm confident most of the members support enthusiastically the concept of a stadium."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2/15/08: The Washington Post - D.C. United Must Chip In to Get Stadium, Fenty Says

Ward 8 residents are pushing to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River.
Ward 8 residents are pushing to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River. (By Alexandra Garcia -- Washingtonpost.com)

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 15, 2008; Page B02

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said yesterday that he would support a public subsidy for a new professional soccer stadium if the team also invested in the project, stating that he opposed spending public money on the Washington Nationals' $611 million ballpark because the deal was too "one-sided."

Fenty (D) made his comments at a news conference near the site of where the project would be built along the Anacostia River. He sought to temper expectations about his administration's commitment to creating a new home for D.C. United, saying no deal had been struck for a proposed 27,000-seat stadium at Poplar Point, a 110-acre swath of neglected parkland.

Yet talk of a new stadium brought swift and divided reaction from residents, business leaders and activists, foreshadowing a replay of the protracted debate over the baseball stadium.

On Wednesday, Fenty told D.C. Council members in a private meeting that he was considering using up to $20 million a year in excess tax money being raised for the Nationals' ballpark to fund $150 million in construction bonds for a soccer stadium. The city also would lease 11 acres, valued by administration officials at $40 million, to United, bringing the public subsidy to $190 million.

"No one ever said there could not be public dollars" for baseball, said Fenty, who voted against the baseball package as a council member. "We said it had to be a fair deal. The baseball deal was completely one-sided. I would never support a deal that is 100 percent city-funded. I would support a deal that is a public-private partnership. Have we seen that deal yet? No."

D.C. government officials and a source close to United's owner, Victor B. MacFarlane, said the team would pay a significant amount of money toward construction, but they declined to be specific.

At the news conference, Fenty announced that Clark Realty of Bethesda had been selected as the master developer for Poplar Point, federal property in Ward 8 that is being transferred to the District. Clark has proposed a $2.5 billion mixed-use development with housing, offices, retail space, a 70-acre park mandated by the federal government, an environmental museum and business hub, and a "deck" that connects Anacostia to the new development. A soccer stadium is optional in the plan.

Fenty did not mention the stadium until it was brought up by council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who supports the plan.

Barry and a dozen civic activists who attended the news conference said the stadium would spur long-awaited development in their ward. Residents, many of whom criticized Fenty for breaking off negotiations with MacFarlane last summer, chanted "Four more years!" as Barry thanked Fenty for "listening to the community."

The stadium "will be an anchor for all the other activity taking place," said James Bunn, head of the Ward 8 Business Council.

But business leaders, environmentalists and social activists raised concerns.

Since 2004, the largest D.C. businesses have been paying a special tax toward the 30-year construction bonds for the baseball stadium project. The debt could be retired several years early if the excess tax money is not used for other projects, according to a recent analysis by D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, and the special business tax could be discontinued.

James C. Dinegar, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, said businesses are upset that the council is moving forward with legislation that would require paid sick leave for all workers. He said the Board of Trade would consider the soccer stadium proposal if the city presents a cost-benefit analysis that shows a healthy upside.

But retiring the debt early "is always a prudent business move," Dinegar said. "Obviously, the economy looms large right now. There is unpredictability in the near future and long term. The cost to doing business in the District of Columbia continues to climb."

Barbara Lang, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, said: "What we had hoped is that the bonds for baseball would be paid off earlier to relieve the business community of some of the fee."

Gandhi has cautioned city officials to begin conserving money amid a national economic downturn. He also has warned that the city is approaching its borrowing threshold on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, the coalition of environmentalists and social activists that fought the baseball stadium plan drafted a letter to Fenty and the council yesterday stating strong opposition to the soccer plan.

"At a time when the District is likely to face serious budget constraints due to a slowing economy, it is especially appalling to propose a huge subsidy for a luxury like a soccer stadium rather than investing in the basic needs of D.C. residents," the letter said.

2/14/08: The Examiner - United Gets The Ultimate Valentine’s Gift

Mayor Fenty, DC United Announce New Team Ownership
(Andrew Harnik/Examiner)
D.C. United owners Victor MacFarland (left), Will Chang (right), Brian Davis (right) and Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty (center), at a recent event for D.C. United owners.

By. Craig Stouffer, The Examiner
WASHINGTON (Map, News) - In a dramatic turnaround, the District of Columbia government has dropped its long-held resistance to a stadium for D.C. United and instead will announce today that it plans to contribute funds for the construction of a 27,000-seat arena at Poplar Point, the Examiner has learned.

The district will pay between $150-230 million to build a soccer-specific stadium — which will keep D.C. United from moving to the suburbs — on top of $236 million to subsidize infrastructure improvements, The stadium plan will be part of an announcement today of the selection of a primary developer for the Poplar Point site, across the Anacostia River from the Washington Nationals baseball stadium.

D.C. United officials did not return calls seeking comment.

After more than two years of informal negotiations over the development of Poplar Point, talks between the district and team over the development of the site broke down seven months ago. United had offered to pay for a stadium, but after talks broke down, was considering possible stadium sites in Greenbelt and New Carrollton.

If the plan is approved, it will become the largest publicly funded soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer by far, more than double the estimated $65 contributed by Commerce City, Colo., for Dick’s Sporting Goods Park outside of Denver, which opened last year.

Red Bull is paying $180-200 million for a stadium in Harrison, N.J., outside of New York City, according to reports. The Pennsylvania state government also recently approved a package that included $25 million, combined with $30 million from Delaware County and the city of Chester, toward a stadium in the Philadelphia suburb.


2/14/08: The Washington Business Journal - Clark Realty Capital Wins; Soccer Stadium Still In Play

[IMG00055.jpg]
Clarke Realty's Proposal For The Poplar Point Development


By. Jonathan O'Connell Staff Reporter


D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has picked Clark Realty Capital LLC to develop Poplar Point, a 40-acre plot of waterfront property on the Anacostia River.

At the Thursday announcement, held atop the parking garage of the Anacostia Metro station, Fenty said Clark's proposal "was the most superior" and that it would bring amenities east of the river "that residents of this area have desired and wanted for a long time."

A soccer stadium seems likely to be included in the deal.

D.C. asked the final three teams, Clark, Forest City and Archstone Smith-Madison Marquette to work options for a soccer stadium into their proposals and Fenty and Victor MacFarlane, owner of D.C. United, are negotiating a subsidy package to include a soccer stadium, plans Fenty shared with the D.C. Council late Wednesday.

But the mayor refuted press reports that stated the city planned to offer varying subsidies of between $150 million and $200 million. Fenty acknowledged that a stadium would require an agreement on a public subsidy "but we don't have it yet." Neil Albert, deputy mayor for economic development, estimated the cost of a 27,000-seat soccer stadium at between $200 million and $300 million and said MacFarlane had offered to pay a "significant portion" of that.

As a councilman, Fenty opposed $611 million in public financing for the Washington Nationals' stadium and backed out of direct negotiations with D.C. United for a stadium last summer. But Fenty criticized suggestions that the current negotiations represented an about-face from his votes, saying a subsidy for a United stadium would not resemble the "one-sided deal" for the baseball stadium.

Councilmembers Marion Barry, D-Ward 8, and Yvette Alexander, D-Ward 7, were on hand to applaud the announcement.

"I want to thank the mayor for being committed to the concept of a stadium," said Barry, a stadium supporter. He said he was sure there was enough votes on the council to pass a stadium proposal

Whether or not it includes a stadium, Clark has proposed a $236 million public subsidy for infrastructure for the $2.5 billion project. The Arlington-based arm of Clark Enterprises proposed building 1.5 million square feet of offices, 3,200 residential units, 405,000 square feet of retail and 224,000 square feet of hotels. Arlington-based Clark also planned an international environmental facility as a center for sustainable energy education and industry, as well as a pre-K through 12th grade school in partnership with KIPP, the network of charter schools that already serves hundreds of Ward 8 children.

All of the new development would surround 70 acres of park space.

Seven teams initially responded to the city's solicitation for offers, and three were quickly eliminated before the remaining four presented their ideas to the community in December. In the meantime, MacFarlane entered discussions with Maryland officials about the possibility of building a stadium in Prince George's County for D.C. United.

The federal government still controls the land, and D.C. estimates that it will take 12 to 18 months to transfer National Park Service facilities on Poplar Point to another location. The U.S. Secretary of the Interior will then have to certify plans for the site before it is transferred to the city.

Construction is not likely to begin until 2010 or 2011.

2/14/2008: The Washington Post - Fenty: No Deal for Poplar Point Soccer Stadium

Ward 8 residents are pushing to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River.
Ward 8 residents are pushing to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River. (By Alexandra Garcia -- Washingtonpost.com)


By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2008; 1:04 PM

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said today that no deal has been struck to use public funds to build a professional soccer stadium in Southeast Washington. He also said his talks with D.C. United about a partnership do not represent a drastic departure from his stance against public financing of the Nationals baseball stadium.

The proposed new stadium would cost as much as $190 million in public money -- $150 million in construction bonds and $40 million in land leased to the D.C. United soccer franchise, according to government sources.

In a private meeting with the D.C. Council yesterday, Fenty (D) said the District has been collecting $20 million a year in excess revenue from city taxes related to the financing of the baseball stadium, the sources said.

Fenty said the city could use that revenue to pay for construction bonds for a 27,000-seat soccer stadium for United, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussion was private. Such a plan could prove controversial in the business community, which has been paying additional taxes since 2004 toward the baseball project. The District instead could choose to use the excess tax money to retire the 30-year baseball stadium bonds early, city officials said.

As a council member, Fenty repeatedly voted against public financing of the $611 million baseball stadium. Since taking office, he has been under increasing pressure from Ward 8 residents to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop a barren 110-arce parcel, known as Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River.

At a morning news conference today in Anacostia, Fenty played down the stadium discussions, saying: "We're not at that point yet. Nothing has been finalized."

When asked how he would square supporting public dollars for a soccer stadium against his previous stance on baseball, Fenty said his position had been misrepresented.

"No one ever said there could not be public dollars" for baseball, Fenty said. "We said it had to be a fair deal. The baseball deal was completely one-sided. I would never support a deal that is 100 percent city-funded. I would support a deal that is a public-private partnership. Have we seen that deal yet? No."

Sources close to D.C. United said that under the latest stadium proposal the team would contribute "significant equity" to the project.

The mayor also announced at the news conference that he has selected Clark Realty Capital, a Bethesda-based company, as the master developer of Poplar Point.

Clark, which won an open competition for the site, proposed a mixed-use development that includes housing, retail, a 70-acre park mandated by the federal government, a hub of businesses dedicated to the environment, a charter school and a three-block "deck" built over Interstate 295 so that Anacostia residents can walk to Poplar Point. An optional stadium was also included.

When asked about the discussions in the meeting, council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who has backed a stadium, said: "My understanding is that a stadium will be part of the deal. The community has been empowered and their voices heard."

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who voted against the baseball financing, said, "We learned in the baseball debate that the public is leery of public financing, and there are many who will say, 'Here we go again.' "

D.C. United began threatening to move to Prince George's County after Fenty broke off informal negotiations with team owner Victor B. MacFarlane in July. Fenty thought that MacFarlane's plan, which required $350 million in public subsidies for infrastructure, was too expensive for the city.

"We do not have any deal with the District," said Julie Chase, a spokeswoman for MacFarlane.

United plays at the 47-year-old RFK Stadium and will be the sole tenant there after the Nationals move in spring into their new ballpark, near the Navy Yard and South Capitol Street SE.

Fenty has said repeatedly that he would try to keep United in the District. But according to government sources, he has feared supporting a publicly financed soccer stadium lest he become embroiled in the kind of bitter, lengthy political fight that his predecessor, Anthony A. Williams (D), waged over the baseball stadium project.

Williams fought for almost two years before the council gave final approval to the baseball financing package. Among the highlights of the negotiations was a night in 2005 when the council voted to reject one version of the deal, only to reverse course and approve it about 1 a.m.

Fenty, the sources said, wants to ensure that he has the support of the majority of the council before he makes a public announcement.

Even if the council agreed to use public money for a soccer stadium, the larger Poplar Point development project is likely to cost much more in public funds. The Clark proposal could cost $200 million to $350 million for infrastructure, including roads, sewers, lights and the park. Some of those costs almost certainly would fall on the city.

Administration officials will negotiate with Clark Realty for the next six to nine months to nail down the development plan. Environmental remediation could take as long as 1 1/2 years before construction begins, officials have said. The overall plans could take more than a decade to realize, officials said, although the soccer stadium probably would be in the first wave of building, within three to four years.


Amidst Hope There Is Confusion and Doubt...

[IMG00054.jpg]
Clarke Realty's Proposal For The Poplar Point Development

By.Chris Pittman

I can't lie. Yesterday when I heard that our new buddy(?) Adrian Fenty is now planning to propose public funding for the building of a stadium at Poplar Point, I nearly jumped out of my seat. News like this has been a long time coming, and I for one was pretty psyched. But...

After a few hours my conscious started to kick in and I realized just how unjust this is (if true) for the taxpayers within The District. I love D.C. United, but I originally invested myself in this whole debacle because there seemed to be a sort of moral battle in this issue. I didn't like the idea of the government going through with a development that seemed to not have the best interests of the citizens in hand. I firmly believed (and still do) that any development at Poplar Point without a "privately" financed United stadium would be a failure.

Now after getting a little more information regarding what exactly Fenty is proposing I have to honest and say that I'm downright confused. I think the choice to partner with Clarke is wise since they, by far had the best plan for both the city, the people, and the team. I just cannot understand the numbers and logic behind the Mayor's decision. Why would he offer public financing? He has to know that the city will also have to cover the infrastructure costs? This now almost doubles the districts bill?

After politically shooting down United's plan months ago it seemed as if United would never get Fenty's full support. He had cut off all negotiations and publicly distanced himself from the team. So why now all of the sudden has his tune changed? Why now has he decided to throw up more money than was originally asked for?

My only guess would have to be that Fenty must have finally felt some real growing pressure from PG county's bid for the team. Looking at the numbers the Mayor had to have realized that The District is better with United, than without. So now he is about to make, what appears to be a hasty political bid to keep the team in The District... on his terms. Who knows how MacFarland will react to this offer. My gut tells me that he and the United front office will take it as a positive sign and re-start negotiations with The District. They most likely won't be interested in a deal that requires them to submit to the DCSC, so I wouldn't be surprised if this drag's out over the next few months before we get any definitive answers on who will pay for and own the stadium.

This seems to be a positive step, but the team and the city both need to see that this gets done in a way that doesn't forget the peoples interests. United has waited too many years for this stadium to just let it slip by. They'll work hard to see that it gets done right.

2/14/2008: The Examiner - Taxpayers to Foot $150M of D.C. United Stadium Costs


WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Mayor Adrian Fenty has agreed to use at least $150 million in taxpayer dollars to help build a soccer stadium as part of a deal that will keep D.C. United in the city, The Examiner has learned.

Fenty held a closed-door meeting with District Council members Wednesday and told them that Clark Realty Capital LLC will be paid another $236 million to rebuild the Poplar Point development East of the Anacostia River, city hall sources said. As part of the project, Clark will build a new soccer field for D.C. United, the sources said.

The city would contribute at least $150 million of the total cost of $230 million to build the stadium, multiple sources said.

The plan will be announced today at a news conference.

It comes over objections from council members David Catania, I-at large, and Carol Schwartz, R-at large, who balked at shuffling yet more taxpayer dollars into another stadium project after committing large amounts of public money to the Washington Nationals, sources told The Examiner.

The deal represents a reconciliation between Fenty and Victor MacFarlane, United’s owner. MacFarlane, a prominent developer, had threatened to take his team to the suburbs because Fenty wouldn’t commit public money to a new stadium.

Doug Hicks, a spokesman for the team, refused to comment.

Fenty spokeswoman Carrie Brooks also did not respond to requests for comment.

The mayor was apparently persuaded by his deputy, Neil Albert, council chair Vincent C. Gray and member Jack Evans, D-Ward 2, chair of the council’s finance committee. Gray and Evans met with Albert separately on Monday and mapped out plans to help the mayor win support for United’s public financing.

According to sources familiar with Wednesday’s meeting, Catania — an outspoken critic of the publicly financed Washington Nationals stadium — said Fenty was playing fast and loose with the public’s finances.

Poplar Point deal

» $236 million for “infrastructure”

» $150 million-$230 million to build 27,000-seat stadium

» City to control stadium

Got a tip on the new stadium deal? Call Bill Myers at 202-459-4956 or e-mail bmyers@dcexaminer.com.

2/14/2008: The Washington Post - Fenty Eyes Public Funds for Soccer Stadium

Ward 8 residents are pushing to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River.
Ward 8 residents are pushing to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River. (By Alexandra Garcia -- Washingtonpost.com)


Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2008; Page A01

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has proposed using public funds to build a professional soccer stadium in Southeast Washington that would cost as much as $190 million, a drastic departure from his stance against public financing of the Nationals baseball stadium.

In a private meeting with the D.C. Council yesterday, Fenty (D) said the District has been collecting $20 million a year in excess revenue from city taxes related to the financing of the baseball stadium, according to government sources with knowledge of the meeting.

Fenty said the city could use that revenue to pay for construction bonds for a 27,000-seat soccer stadium for D.C. United, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussion was private. Such a plan could prove controversial in the business community, which has been paying additional taxes since 2004 toward the baseball project. The District instead could choose to use the excess tax money to retire the 30-year baseball stadium bonds early, city officials said.

Fenty, who as a council member repeatedly voted against public financing of the $611 million baseball stadium, declined to comment yesterday. Since taking office, he has been under increasing pressure from Ward 8 residents to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop a barren 110-arce parcel, known as Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River.

The mayor plans to announce at a news conference in Anacostia today that he has selected Clark Realty Capital, a Bethesda-based company, as the master developer of Poplar Point.

Clark, which won an open competition for the site, proposed a mixed-use development that includes housing, retail, a 70-acre park mandated by the federal government, a hub of businesses dedicated to the environment, a charter school and a three-block "deck" built over Interstate 295 so that Anacostia residents can walk to Poplar Point. An optional stadium was also included.

When asked about the discussions in the meeting, council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who has backed a stadium, said: "My understanding is that a stadium will be part of the deal. The community has been empowered and their voices heard."

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who voted against the baseball financing, said, "We learned in the baseball debate that the public is leery of public financing, and there are many who will say, 'Here we go again.' "

D.C. United has been threatening to move to Prince George's County after Fenty broke off informal negotiations with team owner Victor B. MacFarlane in July. Fenty thought MacFarlane's plan, which required $350 million in public subsidies for infrastructure, was too expensive for the city.

"We do not have any deal with the District," said Julie Chase, a spokeswoman for MacFarlane.

United plays at the 47-year-old RFK stadium and will be the sole tenant there after the Nationals move in spring into their new ballpark, near the Navy Yard and South Capitol Street SE.

Fenty has said repeatedly that he would try to keep United in the District. But according to government sources, he has feared supporting a publicly financed soccer stadium lest he become embroiled in the kind of bitter, lengthy political fight that his predecessor, Anthony A. Williams (D), waged over the baseball stadium project.

Williams fought for almost two years before the council gave final approval to the baseball financing package. Among the highlights of the negotiations was a night in 2005 when the council voted to reject one version of the deal, only to reverse course and approve it about 1 a.m.

Fenty, the sources said, wants to ensure that he has the support of the majority of the council before he makes a public announcement.

Even if the council agreed to use public money for a soccer stadium, the larger Poplar Point development project is likely to cost much more in public funds. The Clark proposal could cost $200 million to $350 million for infrastructure, including roads, sewers, lights and the park. Some of those costs almost certainly would fall on the city.

Administration officials will negotiate with Clark Realty for the next six to nine months to nail down the development plan. Environmental remediation could take as long as 1 1/2 years before construction begins, officials have said. The overall plans could take more than a decade to realize, officials said, although the soccer stadium probably would be in the first wave of building, within three to four years.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Conflicting Reports of Progress

So news broke not too long ago that progress has finally been made with Mayor Adrian Fenty. As stated here earlier it seems that (if the current reports are correct) Mayor Fenty does in fact want a United stadium at Poplar Point. It sounds like he wants it so much now that he's now offering to pay for the damn thing. Whether MacFarland and Co. will go for that has yet to be seen, but either way it looks as if a resolution to this debacle might be right around the corner. Here's NBC and ABC's takes on the matter...
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News4 has learned that Mayor Adrian Fenty plans to propose building a $200 million soccer stadium on the banks of the Anacostia River across from the city's new Nationals ballpark.

Sources told News4's Tom Sherwood that the soccer stadium would be part of a $1 billion development deal on about 40 acres of land at Poplar Point along the river. The sources said the mayor will announce as early as Thursday that he has selected Clark Construction to develop the land.

Under the mayor's proposal, which must be approved by the D.C. Council, the city would spend about $200 million on the soccer stadium. Funds to pay for the soccer stadium bonds would come from taxes and revenue that already are being generated by the new baseball stadium, which opens in late March.

If approved by the council, the stadium deal would keep the D.C. United team in the District. Soccer team owner Victor Macfarlane has been talking about moving the team to a suburban location.

In addition to the soccer stadium, the city is expected to spend about $240 million on street, sewage and other public works improvements on the land.
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and now ABC's...
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Sources tell ABC 7 News D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty will announce at a morning news conference the city has offered a deal to D.C. United to build a stadium at Poplar Point in Anacostia, keeping the soccer team in the city.

The mayor briefed council members on his plan Wednesday, according to sources, saying he would like the immediate backing of the majority of the council before moving forward with the deal. It's not clear what will happen if the seven members don't come forward. Sources say under the mayor's plan, the city would lease 11 of the 110 acres at Poplar Point and provide the land to D.C. United for a stadium. The rest of the land would go to Clarke Construction, which the mayor has chosen as having the best plan to develop the area.

An earlier plan, which Fenty rejected, would have given the entire site to D.C. United and it's backers to develop.
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Well there you have it. If I was a betting man I'd have to say that the odds are looking pretty good for a United park within The District. Who knows which report is correct and which way United will go on the offer, but either way, for the first time in a long time it seems as if our local government wants us again. It's a nice feeling. I'll be back tomorrow with an update...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

No News Must Be Good News... Right?

So it's been quite awhile now since we've heard any concrete information on DCU's stadium search. This could either be good or bad. This week I'm leaning towards good, and I'll tell you why...

Right now United has two solid stadium site options within two separately governed areas. This is unchartered territory for this organization since beginning this ordeal years ago, and they finally now have some leverage to use when negotiating with the D.C. government. It's a well know fact that all three of the developers bidding for master development rights at Poplar Point are in talks with Victor MacFarland and D.C. United. It's also known that all three of those developers now have officially outlined their plans with a United stadium as an option. D.C. United has gained substantial support in the D.C. council. Many members have voiced their support of a stadium and it's safe to assume that if somehow a master plan is put forth for a vote that does not include a United park, they would vote it down. It seems that anyone who is involved in this debacle has to realize that Poplar Point needs a catalyst for economic change, and the only suitable catalyst that can be seen at this time is a D.C. United stadium.

This, of course doesn't mean that a United stadium is right around the corner. No, first Victor MacFarland and Co. have to agree to a suitable timeline for the development. The Poplar Point development could possibly take over a decade to finish. A United stadium would have to be the first thing built in the development, and even before that could happen their would have to
to be an enormous effort from the city to environmentally clean the area. This also could take quite awhile. I'd like to believe that Kevin Payne and former Mayor Anthony Williams took all of this into account years ago, but with the way things have gone I really don't know. Either way it's beginning to look more and more likely that United will have it's choice of location when this is all said and done.

The bright side to all of this might actually be the fact that, for the Redskins to move back into the city, United must first vacate RFK. I don't see the district running DCU out of town to build the Snyder Dome, rather I'd like to think that this is just one more reason for the District to work with United in completing a stadium deal in Anacostia. Maybe I'm a glass half full kind of guy, but it just seems the more logical option.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

So, Where Do We Stand...?

By Chris Pittman

Are things going well right now, or are they going bad? Is PG County devoting $75,000 dollars to stadium surveying good, or bad? I'm really having a hard time measuring our chances of success at Poplar Point right now. Jonetta Rose Barras seems pretty sure a deal will be made in the near future. Here's an excerpt from her blog...

Government sources say Fenty and his deputy mayor for planning and economic development, Neil Albert are poised to announce later this week the selection of the developer for Poplar Point. Their proposal of choice includes a soccer stadium, say sources. Two of four developers who presented last month their plans for the southeast site have included a stadium: Archstone-Smith, Madison/Marquette and Clark Realty.

Poplar Point development has been controversial since last summer when Fenty ended negotiations with
Victor MacFarlane, a developer and part owner of D.C. United soccer team. MacFarlane had thought he had an agreement that his company would have exclusive development rights because of discussions he had with former Mayor Anthony A. William. Not so said Fenty. And the game was on to find a developer.

Ward 8 Council member Barry and others in the community were angry over Fenty’s move, believing that a stadium would not be in the mix. But the plans submitted by proposed developers proved otherwise.
TBR could not determine which developer was actually chosen. Deputy Mayor Albert could not be reached for comment.

We now know that the timeline of her information is most definitely incorrect (since this was written on the 6th of this month), but one thing can be said of JR Barras, she knows her stuff. I don't see her writing that and being completely off-base. There has to be some truth to it. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.