Soccer may not matter when it comes to future of new D.C. United stadium

New DC United Stadium June 2014

After an initial public hearing, it became clear at the future of a new D.C. United stadium may not hinge at all on soccer, but rather on the District’s ability to put together a financial and land deal.

The D.C. Council hearing, which featured testimony from District officials, and executives from MLS’s D.C. United and developer Akridge, was noteworthy for the direction District officials were leaning when it came to the project. The deal, reached after months of negotiations, requires council approval for a series of land swaps that will essentially spend $140 million on land for the stadium, along with $40 million in tax breaks over 10 years.

Indeed, councilmembers spoke out favorably about the new D.C. United stadium and how it would be privately financed. The bigger part of the debate was over the land swaps that would make the project possible. It includes the sale of the Reeves Center, along with some other city property. And while the consensus was that the Reeves Center has a limited shelf life, it could potentially bring in more money if placed on the open market. From the Washington Post:

Reeves is so energy inefficient and out-of-date that most any buyer would likely demolish it. Even Council member Marion Barry, who got it built, acknowledges the building’s time has passed.

But it’s not as easy as tossing Akridge the keys. The city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender center moved into rebuilt space there barely a year ago. The Post Office at Reeves, which Graham fought to save, has a long-term lease. And the D.C. Department of Transportation’s traffic center operations and other data facilities are also located in the building.

There’s also a more pressing issue: what would replace Reeves Center. Clearly, more planning is needed, but it looks like the planning will need to come from District officials and not D.C. United.

RELATED STORIES: DC begins deliberating new United soccer stadium; New D.C. United stadium renderings posted, D.C. United, District reach agreement on stadium deal, District, owners close to new D.C. United stadium

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