D.C. United soccer stadium hearing set for June 26


Mayor Vincent Gray wants stadium deal done before he leaves office Jan. 2, but D.C. Council is moving deliberately. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

In the latest sign that the D.C. Council will take its sweet time examining the $300 million D.C. United stadium deal, Chairman Phil Mendelson said Tuesday that four separate committees will have to evaluate and approve enabling legislation before it moves to a final vote.

Mendelson has referred the bill to the Committee of the Whole, as well as three other panels related to the soccer legislation. That puts the fate of the stadium deal into the hands of three other lawmakers — Economic Development chair and mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Finance and Revenue chair Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Government Operations chair Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5).

Evans is an outspoken supporter of the deal and has said he hopes to move the legislation out of his committee before the council’s mid-July summer recess. Bowser, McDuffie and Mendelson have spoken much more equivocally.

Had Mendelson sought to put the stadium deal on a faster track, he could have kept the legislation in the Committee of the Whole, while soliciting comments from the other panels. That would have required only a single committee vote. As it stands, it is highly unlikely all four committees will finish their work before the summer recess, pushing a vote on the deal well into the fall at the earliest.

The good news for stadium backers is that Mendelson has already scheduled a hearing, for June 26 at the John A. Wilson Building. It will be up to the other committee chairs to decide whether they will join that hearing, or hold their own hearings, focused on discrete parts of the stadium deal.

“I expect there will be multiple hearings,” Mendelson said.

Update, 5:20 p.m.: Turns out there’s something else scheduled for the afternoon of June 26: The U.S.-Germany World Cup match, the third and final tilt for the American in group play. Soccer fans are already objecting; asked one tweeter, “Would they schedule a football stadium hearing on Super Bowl Sunday?”

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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