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About that “done deal” on D.C. United’s new stadium …

Aug 26, 2013, 5:22 PM EDT

RFK Stadium 2

Major League Soccer’s stadium development history, accomplished as it is, has also been wrought with premature excitement and even a few splashy stadium announcements that, well, let’s say they “didn’t take.”

New York had a couple of false starts before finally getting shovels in the ground on the facility that eventually became Red Bull Arena. Happy ending there, at least.

Houston once had a deal … then didn’t have one … before it finally had one again. Confusing, I know.

D.C. United, by my count, has had three optimistic runs, trumpeting to varying degrees a new and sorely needed stadium being in the works. Most recently, the club called “done deal” on a $300 million agreement for the District of Columbia to provide land and infrastructure for a 20,000-seat facility, one that sits nearby Nationals Park. It would replace well-aged RFK Stadium (pictured), of course.

But we would all do well, once again, to recall the Golden Rule of MLS facility development: Don’t bother getting yourself in a froth about anything until you actually see construction at work, until ground is cleared and steel is aimed skyward and men in hard hats can be eyeballed holding blueprints and pointing here and there in purposeful ways.

We read in The Washington Post yesterday the latest evidence of my Golden Rule; the club’s done deal may not be quite so done after all.

The real problem for MLS and for D.C. United is that the dominant opposition voice on this project has already lost a similar battle. Yes, that’s a problem.

See, Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, also guided the efforts to scuttle Nationals Park, the city’s Major League Baseball facility that opened in 2008. Just as armies learn lessons from lost battles, presumably Lazere learned how to fight his fiscal skirmishes in smarter ways.

We’ll see. Meanwhile, continue to enjoy RFK Stadium. And you might want to borrow one of those hard hats; things tend to fall from the building sometimes, you know.

  1. talgrath - Aug 26, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    As always, I’m amazed that cities will shell out millions to bring or keep sports teams in their cities, subsidizing the millionaires/billionaires that own the team. Granted, DC does need to either renovate their current stadium or build a new one, but why must it be done on the backs of taxpayers, many of whom might never see a game (this applies to all sports in the US, mind you).

    • 12is3times4 - Aug 26, 2013 at 7:13 PM

      Right or wrong, for better or worse, city and state politicians equate the presence of big-time pro and/or college sports with prestige, and have trained much of their constituencies to think of it as a quality-of-life issue.

      By this way of thinking, if [insert major city here] had no major pro sports teams, said city would be just a supersized [insert podunk little town here], and nobody in their right mind would want that, now, would they?

    • SD1 Timbers Special Forces - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      Orlando’s mayor has proposed that the governments that do subsidize the Lions stadium get an equal share of the team. Estimated at 14%. Sounds good to me.

      • talgrath - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:16 PM

        That I have no problem with, but the idea of cities just giving bundles of cash to sports teams seems wrong when there are many bigger concerns (particularly for DC).

  2. hildezero - Aug 26, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    Hence Coyotes.

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