*Leftover comments from DCU President Kevin Payne that didn’t make the story.....
On the club’s relationship with the Washington Convention and Stadium Authority: “They are responsive. They do their best to solve our problems and they look at them as their problems. We certainly get frustrated but it’s more generic frustration at the building, not at the WCSA. ... We don’t blame anybody. We understand it’s a 50-year-old stadium.”
On potential stadium locations aside from the District and Baltimore: ”Entities that control land between here and Baltimore have come to us but we don’t want to confuse the situation. These things are complicated. You can’t have four or five serious conversations going on at the same time very easily.”
On whether the team is at a competitive disadvantage without the same revenue potential as clubs in new stadiums: “Not necessarily. It certainly would be easier for us in a new stadium to justify spending money on an expensive designated player, for instance. But we think we’re ahead of the rest of the league in youth development. We think we are more committed to it than the rest of the league, and in the long run, that is going to be the most important element to a team’s success going forward. Having a really robust youth system that’s aimed at producing players for the first team [homegrown signings Bill Hamid, Andy Najar, Ethan White, Conor Shanosky] will be the key to preventing teams from having to constantly rise up and then fall back.”
On providing a better stadium for the supporters: “We’ve got phenomenal fans. It bothers my competitive side when I hear people talk about the rest fans in the league are here or there. We think we have the best fans in the league, but we don’t think they are in a venue that can show it off very well.”
With a new stadium, Payne predicts a season-ticket stronghold of between 15,000 and 17,000 and an attendance average of close to a sellout every game. A new facility would accommodate between 21,000 and 24,000, depending on location, design and budget. Right now, Payne said, United has between 10,000 and 11,000 season ticket plan holders and about 6,500 full season ticket holders.
On the subject of the alarming number of serious injuries in MLS caused by harsh challenges, Payne said the league needs to take action even if an injury doesn’t occur. He referred specifically to David Beckham’s dangerous tackle on Josh Wolff last month.
“A tackle like Beckham’s tackle should’ve been dealt with by the league after the fact,” he said. “The fact that Wolff didn’t break anything is just luck and you can’t only punish guys after an injury has occurred. We have to start discouraging that kind of tackle in the first place.
“This is a big issue for us and it’s something we have to figure out. We have to be willing to say to guys: ‘For whatever reason, the referee chose not to red-card you, but as we look at this, it’s clearly a red-card foul.’ ”