Muriel Bowser schedules soccer stadium hearings in affected neighborhoods


File: This artist’s rendering provided by the District of Columbia shows the proposed $300 million soccer-only stadium. (AP Photo/District of Columbia)

About a month after drawing hundreds of fans and skeptics to the John A. Wilson Building, the debate over a proposed $300 million public-private stadium deal for the D.C. United pro soccer team will head into city neighborhoods next week.

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), the Democratic candidate for mayor, announced Thursday she will hold two hearings on the soccer stadium deal: one in Southwest Washington, not far from where the proposed stadium would be located on Buzzard Point; and another in the Frank D. Reeves Center, the municipal office building at 14th and U street NW that is a key cog in the deal’s financing scheme.

Bowser’s Economic Development Committee did not join in the June 26 hearing called by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), which drew dozens of witness pro and con, plus more than a few spectators. In a news release Bowser said the hearings will “offer the residents of communities most likely to be affected by the proposal an opportunity to participate in the legislative process at a time that is convenient for many work schedules, and at a location that is proximate to their homes.”

The Reeves Center hearing will be Wednesday, July 23, at 6 p.m. in the building’s second-floor community room. The Southwest hearing will be Thursday, July 24, at 7 p.m. in Suite E200 of the city office building at 1100 4th St. SW, across from the Southwest Safeway.

Reeves Center neighbors have been vocal since the outlines of the deal were first sketched out, pressing in particular for daytime uses at whatever replaces the 28-year-old city office building. Southwest residents have been ambivalent about the proposal, but have recently expressed concerns about transportation planning for the stadium and possible displacement from low-income housing nearby.

Those who wish to testify are asked to call (202) 724-8052 or e-mail tbekele@dccouncil.us with a name, address, telephone number, and organizational affiliation, if any, no later than close of business Tuesday.

One thing is for certain: Neither hearing will conflict with any World Cup games.

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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