Reader discretion ... is advised.
(Declared in the foreboding voice at the start of “24”.)
If you don’t want your hopes raised about a new D.C. United stadium, if you’d prefer to avoid the possible heartache of yet another proposal floating down the Anacostia with other rubbish, if you’d prefer to wait for guys in suits to plunge ceremonial shovels into earth before even beginning to contemplate the possibility of United playing somewhere other than fabled RFK Stadium, this blog item is not for you.
Go outside and play with a balloon, Sally. (“Mad Men” reference)
On Monday, Jonathan O’Connell, my Post colleague in Capital Business, penned a story outlining development plans at Buzzard Point that include a United stadium. We’ve been telling you for some time United is targeting that plot of largely anonymous land in Southwest Washington. Owner Will Chang acknowledged as such over the weekend.
The 20-page concept plans are proof that United has been very serious about it. The plans, however, are dated July 2010, which, as one contact warned, is an eternity in real estate development circles. Maybe things have changed a bit. Perhaps they have changed a lot. Maybe this specific outline has been abandoned altogether. We don’t know. United, which has been burned in public over the Poplar Point and Prince George’s County proposals, is tight-lipped.
Anyway, these plans do exist. I’ve seen the spiral-bound drawings/photos/renderings. I’d love for you to see them too. They’re quite lovely. An online gallery would do the trick, but alas, they are not in the public domain and we don’t want to get sued for copyright infringement. So in an extension of O’Connell’s fine story, I will try to describe some of the mouth-watering details:
*The stadium would sit about four blocks southwest of Nationals Park, in the heart of the Buzzard Point peninsula, which, at its tip, serves as the confluence of the Anacostia River and Washington Channel.
*If fully developed, the area would be known as the “Sports and Entertainment District, Phase 1.” Akridge developers own a large chunk of the land.
*About 850 surface parking spaces would be available just south of the stadium and 400-plus spaces on streets just north of it. It appears another 600 spaces are part of an underground structure and 180 on concourse and upper levels.
*Pedestrian paths would link Nationals Park to the soccer venue. Construction properties and storage facilities are among the businesses currently occupying the middle ground. A proposed streetcar line would pass a block west of the soccer stadium. Metro stations are about a mile away.
*Pepco, the power company, owns a large share of the land and operates facilities that are scheduled for decommission. The historic steamhouse would remain, southeast of the stadium. James Creek Marina is three blocks south. Fort McNair is a block west.
*The area immediately east of the stadium would include the main entrance, several retail buildings, a club store, theater and tree-lined walkways.
*A lower level at the south end appears to include 100 parking spaces, plus additional retail and a pub.
*The stadium would have a press box level bookended by suites, a full suite level, a club level and an office level.
*A potential hotel would sit at one end, with direct views into the stadium. Residential units would be included in the hotel complex.
What to make of it all? If this plan holds true in its full capacity, it has the potential — potential — to become one of the best stadium projects MLS has ever seen. But until Chang signs up new investors to help pay for it, until the land is purchased and the city pledges infrastructure assistance, it will remain, as Red might’ve said to Andy in a D.C. United-themed version of “The Shawshank Redemption”:
“This is just %$#*& pipedreams. I mean, Buzzard Point is way the hell down there and you’re in here at RFK, and that’s the way it is.”