Construction on New DC United Stadium Begins with Protests

Protesters worried about environmental concerns to neighborhood

Ground was broken Monday for a new soccer stadium for the DC United.

The mayor hopes this is just the first step to bring another professional team back to the Nation’s Capital, but an activist group is worried about the potential environmental problems for the neighbors.

Demolition teams began clearing land in southwest Washington near Nationals Park for the new DC United soccer stadium, set to open in 2018. The new $300 million facility’s costs are being shared between the city and the team.

Soccer fans were worried the team might move from Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, where they currently play, to a place in the Maryland or Virginia suburbs. Robert and Jenine Plant, of Bethesda, Maryland, have backed the team since it arrived in 1996.

“Fantastic,” said Robert Plant. “We've been with the team, ups and downs, thinking about the new stadium, and now, it's a reality. We are so happy.”

Percy Goitia and his father, Jose Luis, from northern Virginia, are longtime fans of the team as well.

“Most recently, about three years now season ticket holders,” Goitia said. “This new stadium, this new project is definitely a blessing.”

Protesters, who worried about air pollution and funding for the poor, demonstrated against the project as crews as cleared out the area in southwest Washington. Members of Empower DC, an activist group, said not enough is being done some of the polluted industrial grounds being dug up for the stadium.

They are worried about the elderly, children and the infirmed in the neighborhood. But D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the construction would be mindful of the environmental concerns.

“Any investment in this area is going to enhance the quality of life for everybody,” Bowser said. “One thousand construction and permanent job because of this stadium.”

The mayor said she is also privately exploring a return of the Washington Redskins, bringing all the local major sports teams inside the city’s boundaries.

“If you want to win, this is where you’ll be,” Bowser said.

Construction on the stadium itself will begin this fall.

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