D.C. United will need an alternate venue for some home matches in 2018, as the club will not play all of its home games at Audi Field.
Currently under construction in D.C.’s Buzzard Point neighborhood, Audi Field is slated to open during the 2018 MLS season. Its current timeline for completion projects a late June debut, months after the regular season begins.
In light of the stadium’s construction timeline, United had reportedly sought to front load its schedule with road games and begin playing home matches after Audi Field opened. That would have meant playing all 17 home matches in the period between Audi Field’s opening and the end of the regular season in the fall, but MLS officials were concerned about the scheduling issues that could create.
Therefore, United will have to find an alternate venue for a limited number of home games before Audi Field opens. The exact number of games that would be moved and the alternate venue, or venues, have not been finalized. More from The Washington Post:
The most likely number of off-site home games is three, according to two sources, who did not want to go on the record because the matter is unresolved. United officials did not want to comment specifically about the schedule. MLS deferred questions to the team.
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000 seats, 30 miles east of Washington) would seem to make the most sense. “We have had discussions about a game or two, but nothing has been finalized,” Navy spokesman Scott Strasemeier said.
Richmond’s City Stadium, home to United’s second-division affiliate, has 22,000 seats (9,000 are used for Kickers’ matches) and, unlike the Annapolis venue, has a natural-grass playing surface. However, the 110-mile distance on heavily traveled Interstate 95 would probably dissuade many season-ticket holders from attending.
Baltimore has two primary venues, both problematic: Oriole Park at Camden Yards has a baseball configuration and possible scheduling conflicts with the Orioles, while the 71,000-seat capacity at M&T Bank Stadium, an NFL venue, is too large for United’s purposes.
According to The Post, United is unlikely to contemplate the use of D.C.-area venues such FedEx Field, Nationals Park, or RFK Stadium as sites for early-season home games. United played at RFK Stadium from 1996-2017, and previous indications have been that the club is not interested in using the stadium in 2018.
Renderings courtesy D.C. United and Audi Field.
RELATED STORIES: D.C. United Launches Audi Field Social Media; Audi Field Construction Continues as D.C. United Plans for 2018; Audi Field Construction Continues to Unfold; D.C. United Breaks Ground on Audi Field; Done Deal: District Approves Audi Field; New for 2018: Audi Field; D.C. United Stadium Could Be Approved in 2017; D.C. United Tweaks Stadium Design; D.C. United, Developers Clash Over Stadium Design; D.C. United Stadium Will Not Open for Start of 2018 Season; D.C. United Unveil New Stadium Renderings; D.C. United Releasing New Renderings; D.C. United Awards Construction Contract; Crews Break Ground on New D.C. United Stadium; 2018 Opening Planned; D.C. United Takes Next Steps Toward New Stadium