The Washington Post

Top official for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray optimistic about D.C. United stadium deal

D.C. United and the Columbus Crew square off in a soccer match. (Jamie Sabau/GETTY IMAGES)

D.C. City Administrator Allen Y. Lew, who oversaw construction of Nationals Park and the convention center, said in a brief interview last week that after repeated meetings with D.C. United’s new ownership and other stakeholders he hopes to have the framework for a deal to build a new stadium for the team “inside of a year.”

“The administration is continuing to work with the D.C. United organization to develop a new soccer stadium,” he said. “I don’t think there’s been this much energy put into it by anyone in the past, in any recent administrations.”

D.C. United has agreed to pay for the cost to build a stadium that would would accommodate at least 20,000 fans and also host non-soccer events including college sports and concerts.

Neither the District nor the team, however, controls the site where the stadium is being planned, a little more than a block southwest of Nationals Park, and the team has made no commitment to pay for the land or roads the stadium would need.

D.C. developer Akridge and Pepco own the largest portions of the site, while investor Mark Ein, the D.C. government and other private entities own other small portions. Pepco said last fall that it had begun discussions with the city and the team about how to accommodate a stadium there.

Lew’s real estate credentials are well-established given his work modernizing the District’s school buildings, renovating RFK Stadium, building Nationals Park in time for the team to relocate to Southeast D.C. and planning and building the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Perhaps not surprisingly Gray directed Lew, rather than Victor Hoskins, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, to manage the soccer stadium project.

Still, the team’s new ownership appears to be getting antsy. Jason Levien, managing partner for United’s new ownership group, told the Post last week that “we feel as though we are moving in the right direction” in negotiations with the District. The team is still considering sites in Maryland, however.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.



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