Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1/11/08: Baltimore Business Journal - Stadium Study Could Boost State's Attempt To Lure D.C. Soccer Team

By. Ryan Sharrow Staff
Baltimore Business Journal
Friday, January 11, 2008

The Maryland Stadium Authority will oversee a study to assess the economic impact of a new Prince George's County stadium that would be home to the D.C. United professional soccer team.

The stadium authority got the green light from the Maryland General Assembly's budget committee Jan. 2 to proceed with the study on the possible relocation of D.C. United to the state, according to a copy of the letter written by Senate Budget Committee Chair Ulysses Currie and obtained by the Business Journal.

The stadium authority will use up to $75,000 in "non-budgeted funds" for the study, said David A. Raith, acting executive director of the stadium authority. The state agency received legislative approval several years ago to spend its own money on studies.

"What we're looking for [in the study] is what the economic impact will be for the state, local county and private [industry] that will support the project cost," he said.

The stadium authority first received a letter from Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson on Nov. 9 requesting the state agency's assistance with luring D.C. United to the county, according to the letter from Johnson.

Talk of Maryland building a new stadium for the United began to heat up in the fall after discussions between D.C. officials and United owner Victor MacFarlane broke down on the possibility of building a new 27,000-seat venue at Poplar Point in the District.

State Comptroller Peter Franchot wrote a letter to Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman Frederick W. Puddester asking him to explore the opportunities of bringing D.C. United to the state.

Meanwhile, D.C. officials are still trying to retain the Major League Soccer franchise. The United currently plays in the 46-year-old RFK Stadium in Southeast D.C.

It is uncertain how the cost for the potential new stadium in Prince George's County would be funded. MacFarlane had previously offered to foot the $150 million bill to build a new stadium in D.C.

The stadium authority will issue a request for proposals for the study within the next 60 days, Raith said, and the findings could be released by this fall. It is unclear whether the study will examine a specific location, Raith said.

Julie Chase, a spokeswoman for MacFarlane, declined to comment. Officials with Prince George's County could not be reached for comment.

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