LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Soccer fans aren’t letting public opinion stop them from bombarding D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and city council members with support for a new, 20,000-25,000 seat DC United stadium at Buzzard Point in Southwest.
Stadium advocates have sent more than 27,000 emails to D.C. officials in the past three weeks via UniteDC.org, according to team CFO Tom Hunt.
UniteDC describes itself as “a coalition of District residents, local businesses and labor unions that support the plan for a new multi-use stadium at Buzzard Point.”
The plan for a new stadium was announced in July but is not yet a done deal. Under the proposed terms, D.C. would assume the cost of land acquisition and infrastructure — approximately $150 million — and DC United would construct the stadium, which would also cost about $150 million.
That’s less than half of the cost of the Nationals Park, which opened in 2008 and was also a public-private partnership.
A recent Washington Post poll shows, however, that six out of 10 city residents oppose the plan.
Mayor Gray has remained optimistic.
“The new soccer stadium is the final piece in the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative puzzle that, when complete will create the most vibrant and sustainable sports-and-retail district in America,” he has said of the plans.
He has also maintained that both the team and taxpayers will benefit from the stadium if it’s successful.
DC United claims the proposal will generate $387 million in new tax revenue, create 870 construction jobs and 550 permanent jobs. The team says the District will lease the stadium site to D.C. United but retain ownership of the property, which at the end of the lease period will likely be worth more than $700 million.
Hunt says he expects many more D.C. residents to send messages of support to the Mayor and council in the coming weeks.
The city government has been negotiating agreements with the team and various property owners of the proposed stadium site. After these agreements are completed, they will be presented to the council for a vote.
DC United hopes the stadium will be ready by Jan. 1, 2017. The team currently plays at RFK Stadium, which used to be home to the Washington Redskins.