D.C. United soccer stadium opponents launch “Winning Goal” campaign

Evy Mages/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST - Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, is considering how D.C can get a better deal on a new soccer staduim near Nationals Park. (Photo by Evy Mages/For The Washington Post)

Advocates from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute have put together an early coalition of progressive activists, unions and Southwest residents to question D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s plan to pay for about half the cost of a new stadium for D.C. United on Buzzard Point.

Under the mayor’s plan, still being finalized by City Administrator Allen Lew, the District would contribute as much as $150 million of land and infrastructure, about half the cost of a 20,000-seat stadium on Buzzard Point, in part by swapping the Reeves Center on U Street to developer Akridge.

The coalition’s logo, sent in an email Thursday.

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DCFPI, a major opponent of public financing of Nationals Park, has begun gauging the interest among potential partners and dubbed the emerging campaign: “Winning Goal Coalition: DC Residents for a Fair Soccer Stadium Deal.”

Ed Lazere, executive director of DCFPI, said there is interest so far from the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, D.C. for Democracy, the D.C. Environmental Network and members of Unite Here labor unions.

DCFPI, which advocates on behalf of low- and moderate-income D.C. residents, sent an e-mail to partners Thursday morning to unveil the effort. It read: “A new soccer stadium for DC United is exciting news! But how will it affect taxpayers, the residents of surrounding neighborhoods, DC’s assets, and the city’s development plans?”

Lazere said in an interview that he and his staff aren’t hearing a lot of support for the mayor’s plan thus far, in part because Major League Soccer is not as popular a league as Major League Baseball. “What we’re hearing is that there’s not a lot of enthusiasm, that soccer is not like baseball or football,” he said.

Lazere said he is still gathering supporters, but has scheduled two forums for this month. One will be held at the John A. Wilson Building, where the D.C. Council meets, on Oct. 18 and the other will be an evening meeting in Southwest Oct. 23.

“We’re trying to knit [these groups] together and say all of these issues and all of these voices are important,” Lazere said. “Do we want to just sell public properties because we need money, as opposed to a more thoughtful process?”

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