This nice little article by David Nakamura of the Washington Post, appeared in the Post today. A few quotes below.
"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."Ok, I understand that, however, United has never proposed that the D.C. government subsidise any Soccer Specific Stadium that had been proposed. In fact, D.C. United has repeatedly stated that a new stadium for them, would be privately funded by United, and has only asked the city to kick in infrastructure costs. That same infrastructure is going to have to be put in place anyway as Poplar Point gets developed, so we don't see the problem with that.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty wants a "fair deal" for the city. What about a fair deal for this city's most winning professional franchise in its history? United has propped up the decrepit DC Sports & Entertainment commission by being their sole tennant at the aging, and falling apart RFK Stadium for the past 12 years. Were it not for D.C. United paying outrageous rent (somewhere on the order of $100,000 per match played at RFK) that stadium would have sat there empty, bringing in virtually no income. United has lost money, as they do not get any revenues from concessions, nor parking at RFK, that all goes to the District. Another main issue I have with Fenty's plan, is that United would not actually own most, or any of the land its new stadium and facilities would be built on. The city wants to lease this to United, once again pigeonholing United into having to continue to pay the city just for the right to build and occupy land that it initially wanted to own outright. Furthermore, there would no virtually NO room for future expansion of the stadium, nor much in the way of parking facilities. One of the main reasons United wanted to place their stadium at Poplar Point, outside of remaining in the city in which it plays, and helping revitalise a very blighted, neglected, and largely forgotten part of the city, was that it would own the land it was developing, and would stand to make more money from such development, and not to have to continue to pay to stay in D.C, which they have done diligently for 12 years now. Fenty is seemingly turning this into a very one sided deal, that is only fair for the city, and no one else. I think United has paid their dues to the city and then some over the last 12 years. Its time the city make a few concessions for all that United has done for it. Of course, this is all largely speculation at this point. We will have to wait and see exactly what it is the District/Fenty will ultimately offer.
"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."
On to a little brighter bit of news on the stadium front...
A good sign that Clark Realty was selected as the primary developer of the site, as there are ties between Clark, and D.C. United's ownership group. Clark was one of the finalists who included a Soccer Specific Stadium in their development proposal to the District. Marion Barry has been a staunch proponent of D.C. United being allowed to build its stadium on, and to provide substantial development on the Poplar Point site. As noted above Fenty suddenly broke off talks with United's ownership group last summer. It should be noted, that Fenty ran for his election as D.C. Mayor, on one of his big campaign promises that he would get D.C. United's stadium built in the District, and get it done in a timely manner. Fenty stood in RFK Stadium in front of 25,000 fans and made this promise the year of his election. Since then, Fenty has done nothing but stand in the way since then, stalling, stalling, stalling.
"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."
"Thank you Kevin for this D.C. United jersey and congratulations on your terrific season," Fenty said. "It is great to see over 20,000 fans here at RFK supporting D.C. United. It is my hope that your fans will soon be coming to your brand new soccer stadium at Poplar Point in Anacostia. World class fans, and a world class team like D.C. United, deserve a world class stadium. And I am going to make it a priority to help you build that stadium. Thank you -- congratulations and good luck to the Black-and-Red!" - Then D.C. Mayoral Candidate Adrian Fenty | 28-10-2006
Speaking as a D.C. United supporter: Fenty is all talk and all lip service to D.C. United and their supporters. If what he says is true, then shovels would be hitting dirt this year. Fenty is not interested in D.C. United at all, he is interested in how he can turn this around to make himself look good, and take most of or all of the credit for getting this done. The reality of it is Fenty has done nothing but stall and get in the way, and RISK losing United to either MD or VA, all because he wants to make HIMSELF look good. United was, and still is willing to fully fund their own stadium, yet still were involved in this awful, long, drawn out mess that is Fenty, and the inept D.C. government have created. Now, part of me wants to see United LEAVE D.C., just to give fenty and the district a big fat middle finger, because thats about all they deserve at this point after dragging this out and lying to everyone involved for years. Lest Fenty forget, that United has spent MILLIONS of its own dollars on varying improvement projects and outreach in Ward 8, and Millions of its own dollars on lobbying congress to transfer the federally held land that is Poplar Point, to the District, so it could be developed. Were it not for D.C. United, Fenty very well still might be battling to get the land from the feds. United has certainly paid their dues to the District. We all want United to stay in D.C., however Fenty has made this entire process a complete nightmare for everyone involved. United had stated for nearly 7 years now, that it wanted to be in its new stadium no later than 2010 at the lastest. Well Fenty? Its early 2008 now. You and the District, are running out of time.