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D.C. United step up outreach on stadium project as election season arrives

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WASHINGTON – The back-and-forth over D.C. United’s new stadium plan continues this week, as the club underscores their project’s broad support in the wake of a new set of public-opinion polls about the issue ahead of next week’s mayoral primary election.

D.C. United logo“The grassroots movement to support a proposed D.C. United stadium at Buzzard Point and associated District of Columbia development continues to grow,” proclaimed a statement from United on Thursday. “More than 3,000 residents across all eight wards of Washington, D.C., have sent more than 42,000 emails to the District of Columbia Mayor and Council members in less than four weeks since the movement was launched.

“This grassroots backing is on the heels of two recently released public polls that show more D.C. residents support the proposed plan than those who do not.”

A March poll commissioned by The Kojo Nnamdi Show (a popular daily show on local NPR station WAMU 88.5) and the Washington City Paper, a plurality of District residents support a plan, by a margin of 49 percent to 44 percent, that at least calls for the District to assemble the land and prepare it for development (street lights, sidewalks, curbs, etc.) and for United to privately finance and construct the $150 million stadium.

The plan, led by incumbent mayor Vincent Gray, requires City Council approval and has yet to be formally delivered to the council.

“The message is clear that more and more residents understand and support the details of the stadium proposal,” said Tom Hunt, D.C. United’s new chief operating officer, in a club statement. “We are appreciative of all the District residents that have made their voices heard and who want to see the city move forward with this project.”

In February, a poll funded by the D.C. Working Families coalition, a union-backed organization whose membership would benefit from the jobs created by the stadium project, found that by a margin of 49 percent to 42 percent, likely Democratic primary voters supported the city’s plan for obtaining land for the stadium.

DC-Buzzard-Point-stadium-2“We are ready and waiting to help fill the nearly 1,500 jobs this package will deliver with local people that need jobs today,” said Brent Booker, Secretary Treasurer of the National Building Trades. “For so many, a new stadium and the related development projects will mean a new opportunity to get back to work.”

On Monday, local blog Greater Greater Washington published a post with a rundown of where political candidates running in D.C.’s April 1 Democratic primary election stand on one of the stadium deal’s main planks, the land swap that would see the city sell off the Reeves Center government office building at 14th and U streets NW in order to finance the acquisition of the stadium parcel in Southwest.

The general trend suggested cautious support for a soccer stadium among the pols, but less enthusiasm for the specifics of the land swap.

The current details of the proposal pave the way for a partnership that seeks to transform Southwest D.C. in the same way that the Verizon Center reshaped and revitalized the Gallery Place/Chinatown neighborhood.

The proposal will generate $387 million in new tax revenue, create 870 construction jobs and 550 permanent jobs. The District, which will lease the stadium site to D.C. United, will retain ownership of the land at the end of the lease period, at which point the property will likely be worth more than $700 million.

Besides United’s home matches, the new stadium will also host more than fifty events each year, including headline concerts, cultural events, school-age sports, college soccer, football, lacrosse, and more.