D.C. United took a step toward opening its new soccer-specific home on Monday, as it celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Audi Field.
Starting from its debut in 1996 through the 2017 season, United played home matches at RFK Stadium. The club spent years searching for newer, more intimate venue to replace the aging multipurpose facility, an effort that eventually culminated in the development of Audi Field.
Set to open for a match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, July 14, Audi Field is a new soccer-specific stadium in Washington’s Buzzard Point neighborhood. Besides tying into surrounding development–it is located near Nationals Park, home to MLB’s Nationals–Audi Field is also expected to serve as the modern and more intimate home that United has long sought. United players have been looking forward to the home-field advantage that the facility could provide, while MLS can add to Audi Field to its wave of soccer-specific stadiums. More from The Washington Post:
The stadium’s red and gray seats are positioned at a sharp incline that creates an intimate environment. [United captain Steve] Birnbaum said Audi Field will provide a bigger home-field advantage for the team.
“It was just really cool to step in and know that it’s ours,” midfielder Ian Harkes said a few weeks ago after the team visited its new home for the first time. “I think just seeing it filled is going to be huge. Sometimes RFK, it’s so massive that the atmosphere gets a little bit lost.”
Audi Field becomes the 19th soccer-specific stadium in the league, according to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who attended Monday’s ceremony. In the next couple of years, he said, the league will be up to 25 soccer stadiums, which will help grow the sport in the United States.
Audi Field will be the second new MLS stadium to open this season, following the debut of Los Angeles FC’s Banc of California Stadium in April. For more on Audi Field, see this preview from our own Jon Bruning.
Rendering courtesy Populous.