D.C. United would pay $140 million for construction of a new stadium in the Buzzard Point area, with the District of Columbia providing the land, under the terms of a deal presented by Mayor Vincent C. Gray to the D.C. Council.
The deal, reached after months of negotiations, required council approval for a series of land swaps that will essentially spend $120 million on land for the stadium, along with $40 million in tax breaks over 10 years.
D.C. United currently plays at aging RFK Stadium and has been seeking a new home in the District or Maryland for years. This plan, while moving farther than any other stadium proposal, faces opposition because of its many moving parts, per the Washington Post:
In any year, the deal would stand as a defining achievement for a big-city mayor, but with about seven months remaining in a lame-duck term, persuading a majority of the council to support the plan could take every ounce of political capital that Gray (D) still has. It may not be enough.
District residents and the council still are torn over taxpayer subsidies for Nationals Park and Verizon Center. In addition, the soccer deal ultimately would allow private developers to convert the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, home to hundreds of city jobs, into luxury housing. That cuts to the core of concerns about the city’s growing economic disparity, and Muriel Bowser, who beat Gray in the race for the Democratic mayoral nomination, already has come out against it.
The developer Akridge owns land at Buzzard Point that the city needs to build the stadium. To persuade Akridge to sell that land, Gray agreed to sell the block-long Reeves Center at 14th and U streets NW for $55.6 million. That’s less than half of its most recent assessment and $17 million below a new estimate by the city’s independent chief financial officer.
Gray and other District officials are pitching the new stadium as an economic-development move: between the MLS stadium, Nationals Park, and other waterfront development, the area is seen as a up-and-coming area of the District, significantly gentrified in the last decade.