Plans for a new soccer stadium in the District are bringing promises of economic growth for Southwest Washington. DC United's new home would be just down the road from Nationals Parks. As News4's Tom Sherwood reports, the $300 million is exciting developers as well as soccer fans.
At a midday press conference Thursday, Mayor Vincent Gray announced a deal to build a new, $300 million, 25,000-seat pro soccer stadium for D.C. United near the Nationals' ballpark.
"The winningest franchise in Major League Soccer will be staying in D.C.," Gray said at the press conference.
He said that playing soccer at RFK had become "a real anachronism" and added that United needed a "soccer-first facility."
D.C. United will build the stadium, which is to be located on Buzzard Point, across South Capitol Street from the Nationals' ballpark. But the city will provide the land in the deal.
To get the land, the District intends to swap land with the Akridge development company, which owns the land where the soccer stadium will be built. In return, Akridge will get the land where the Reeves Center is now located, at 14th and U streets NW.
The District will build a new Reeves Center in Ward 8, Gray said.
No taxpayer money would be used to build the soccer stadium or buy the land. The stadium construction is expected to cost $150 million and the land is worth $150 million.
Since 1996, D.C. United has used RFK Stadium in Southeast.
The District has tried for years to land a soccer stadium deal but it fell through because previous owners of the team were unable to finance their own stadium. The new owners of D.C. United have been searching in Maryland, Virginia and the District but wanted to be in the city.
Gray said the deal was meant also to spur economic development in the east end of the city.
City Administrator Allen Lew, who was the city’s lead official in building both the Walter Washington Convention Center and the Nationals' ballpark, echoed the economic development message, pointing out that the construction would provide jobs.
As for what to do with RFK, Gray did not announce specific plans, but said he thought it would be a good football stadium -- "And not just for college games either," he added.