We end 2016 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Soccer Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #6: D.C. United plans its new stadium.
It has been a long road for the D.C. United, as the team has spent years pursuing a new stadium. That journey, however, could be coming to an end soon as the team plans a bright future at Buzzard Point, even though 2016 is concluding with some issues hanging in the balance.
The new stadium in Buzzard Point is something that has been highly anticipated by the United. A replacement for RFK Stadium has been eyed by the team for years, and the plan in Buzzard Point features numerous benefits, including a location within the District that is close to the Washington Nationals’ Nationals Park and other amenities.
Some steps were knocked out this year, including the selection of a contractor, as the team announced in July that Turner Construction Company would handle the project. The United also released new renderings of the facility, showing how the stadium could connect to the surrounding area and be a hub for non-soccer events.
Certain design features were met with criticism from some area developers, who contended that parts of the stadium’s exterior would stifle retail development. The United eventually made some small changes to the design, thereby alleviating those issues.
However, one major step remains between the Untied and the beginning of the stadium’s construction. Earlier this month, the D.C. zoning commission decided to schedule a final vote for the stadium in 2017, with the crucial hearing expected to take place in February. Between now and then, the United must find ways to address the concerns raised by the zoning commission, including the environmental impact of the construction process and a transportation plan for stadium events.
The stadium could very well be approved in February, but the biggest question beyond the zoning commission’s vote will be the construction timeline. The Untied have already confirmed that the stadium will not open until the 2018 season, but have been clear in wanting to avoid delays.
While the year is ending with some loose ends, the United still stand to move to Buzzard Point in the near future. When that happens, it will represent a major milestone for the franchise.
Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2016 List: