District officials have entered preliminary discussions with Pepco over the feasibility of building a soccer stadium for D.C. United where the utility’s generation and substation facilities are located on Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C.
Pepco’s property constitutes a major portion of the footprint for a new stadium based on the plans that D.C. United officials began vetting with District officials in 2010. The utility decommissioned the generation units on the site in May of this year, but its substation there remains operational.
“Pepco has been in preliminary discussions with representatives from the District and DC United regarding the potential siting of a new soccer stadium near the Buzzard Point Facility,” said Pepco spokesman Marcus Beal in an e-mail.
Beal did not say whether Pepco would consider selling or transferring the land to the District. But he said the company wanted to be supportive of the city’s economic development efforts in determining whether the site could accommodate a stadium.
“At this stage, we are only discussing the feasibility and impacts that building the stadium in the area might have on the existing underground electric infrastructure that serves this corridor of the city,” he said. “Pepco is supportive of efforts to bring new economic development opportunities to the District while providing safe and reliable electric service to our customers.”
Pepco is not the only private landowner that would need to participate in a stadium project. Two others, development firm Akridge and Mark Ein, a tech investor and owner of the Washington Kastles tennis team, said this week that they have not had discussions recently with the team or the District about their properties.
But the discussions show new effort on the part of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) to try to accommodate the team’s long search for a new stadium that could better serve the team and its bottom line. DC United currently plays its home games at the deteriorating and overly large RFK Stadium.
Pepco’s willingness to consider the idea represents a shift since March, when spokesman Bob Hainey issued a statement saying,“no land will be made available” for a soccer stadium.
Gray recently attended one of the United’s playoff games and praised the team’s return to the MLS playoffs. Four days ago, the team announced the departure of team president Kevin Payne, who had spearheaded the stadium search for years.
Mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro characterized the discussions as a first step.
“The question has been asked — could you? — and that’s where the discussion has been. You always want to see what the possibilities are,” he said.
Ribeiro wouldn’t say whether the District would try to acquire the land in some way. “There’s a lot of different things floating around there. I think it’s too early to get into details,” he said.
But he said Gray was committed to making sure the team remained in the city.
“We want to work with the team. We want to keep in the District. We value them as part of the community. We value their fans. And we want to keep them here,” he said.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz