D.C. United bossman Victor MacFarlane and Prez Kevin Payne stopped by The Post this afternoon for an on-the-record chat with reporters, editors and a Metro section columnist. The meeting was arranged weeks ago, but in the wake of their letter to the city about the club's plans to look elsewhere in pursuit of a stadium project, the timing could not have been better.
Lots of interesting comments. Lots of frustration with Fenty and the city. You could almost see the steam coming from MacFarlane's ears.
There will be a comprehensive Metro section news story in Friday's print editions (available on washingtonpost.com late tonight), but for now......
WP: Is there still a chance you could end up with a stadium at Poplar Point?
MacFarlane: We still have a developer who has said they want to include a soccer stadium. We have told them what our minimum requirements are and we'll see.
WP: Where else are you looking to build a stadium?
VM: We have engaged with a consultant to find all the sites that are appropriate for a soccer stadium in and outside the District.
WP: How disappointing is it for you to reach this point?
VM: Oh, it's extremely disappointing. I am still hopeful we will be in the District. We will see. I am less optimistic about Poplar Point. I am sure one or two [alternate sites in the District] will show up.
WP: The RFK grounds?
VM: They may be. We don't know yet. We just left the deputy mayor's office [today] talking about, hoping that, there will be alternative sites.
WP: Do you feel like the Fenty administration betrayed you?
VM: It doesn't even matter anymore. I'll just leave it as I am disappointed. ... We spent millions of dollars; we don't have a history of being foolish, but maybe that's what we proved to be this time. ... As the owner of the soccer team, we need to know that the land that they offer us -- if it's not going to be Poplar Point, if there is going to be another alternative site -- that it's a site that we can have. Not maybe we can have after a process. As a business person, it makes no sense. If the city really wants us here, they have to tell us: 'Yes, this site is available to you, let's see if it works.' If there is not a site that is for certain available to us, then we need to find one that is.
jump below for more.....
WP: What did you discuss with city officials today?
VM: We talked about how we would like an alternative site in the District, that we would like a new lease at RFK and one extended beyond this year. They said they are supportive.
WP: Kevin, a few years ago, United talked to the Maryland Stadium Authority about a possible project. Have you gone back to them in the wake of your issues with the District?
KP: We've engaged an agency that is going to explore opportunities elsewhere. I believe the Maryland Stadium Authority is probably going to have some level of interest.
VM: We hope.
WP: Given all the stadium obstacles, do you regret buying the team?
VM: No. I just regret starting the process for Poplar Point. I enjoy the team very much, except for the frustrating part of creating the stadium. It's been a fabulous endeavor. ... The stadium, quite honestly, has been a distraction.
WP: Without a new stadium, this team will continue to lose money, true?
VM: Absolutely. A lot of money.
KP: We're going to get a stadium.
VM: The sooner the better.
WP: Would you consider building far outside the city, like FC Dallas did?
VM: We made our name in urban communities, making a difference in urban communities. ... We're not going in some rural area to do it.
KP: Our name is D.C. United.
WP: Is this back and forth between you and the city part of a ploy to get them to say they made a mistake and they really do want you?
VM: We would love for them to say they want us. At the end of the day, I hope they do want us, if not at Poplar Point, then somewhere. But at some point, they do have to say they want us. ... If you don't want us, just tell me. I won't quibble. We will have a stadium somewhere. Just tell me.
WP: Is it possible you could leave the area all together?
VM: No way.
WP: Some believe the next big stadium in the city will be for the Redskins. Would that impede your project?
VM: I don't see us being in competition at all.
WP: But completely hypothetically, if the RFK site is used for the Redskins, you would need another site.
VM: That makes the assumption that you can't fit both. If there is enough land, we would just have to make a decision that we are okay with building.
WP: Are you worried that the city will knock down RFK before you have a new stadium, forcing you to find a temporary home like FedEx Field?
VM: I have asked that question and I have been assured that is not going to happen. (pause) It could, I guess.
WP: Where did you leave it with the city after your meeting today?
VM: They are willing to work with our consultant and they said they will try to provide some alternate sites.
More details in Friday print editions and on washingtonpost.com......