Plans detail Buzzard Point soccer stadium for D.C. United


In planning documents dated from July 2010, a “Sports & Entertainment District” featuring a new stadium for D.C. United is envisioned a few blocks southwest of Nationals Park. (Satellite image via GoogleEarthPro)

Construction of a soccer stadium for D.C. United on Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington would require assembling properties from five owners, including the District, according to development plans obtained by Capital Business.

The 20-page concept plans, dated July 2010, propose a “Sports & Entertainment District @ Buzzard Point” stretching from Nationals Park to a new D.C. United stadium. The soccer stadium would be bordered by T Street to the south, 2nd Street to the west, Half Street to the east and Potomac Avenue and R Street to the north.

Akridge owns nine acres on Buzzard Point, but it only controls the southwest corner of the site outlined for a stadium. In the concept, the company would initially provide 850 parking spaces for the team on land it owns to the south, which it later plans to develop into a mixed-use project featuring office buildings.

The stadium would have team offices, a club venue and underground parking. A public plaza, shopping, ticketing center and theater would line Half Street SW. The planners included images from outside other famous sporting venues, including Boston’s Fenway Park, San Diego’s Petco Park and Flushing Meadows in New York City.

The private planning documents were produced by HKS, the Dallas-based architecture firm that designed Cowboys Stadium and was a finalist to design Nationals Park.

United President Kevin Payne and Akridge President Matt Klein declined through spokespersons to comment on the plans. Last month, Klein announced he was bringing another sport to the area — track cycling — by leasing space for a velodrome two blocks south.

The plans are almost two years old, but D.C. officials say the team’s focus remains on Buzzard Point and have sounded a more optimistic tune with the team having nearly completed a two-year extension to play at RFK Stadium. A source in Vincent C. Gray’s administration, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that if the team could finance construction of its own stadium on Buzzard Point, the city might be willing to pay for new infrastructure.

“I love D.C. United. My kids love D.C. United. I am a soccer fan,” D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D), who met with Payne in late January, said in an interview. “I believe that we should do everything we can to keep D.C. United in the District of Columbia.” Brown said he wasn’t sure how to pay for a stadium but said it needed to be accompanied by other uses. “I think the key will be to build not just a stadium but a community around the stadium,” he said.

Despite his strong opposition to a training center for the Washington Redskins on the eastern end of Capitol Hill, Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) said he would support a D.C. United stadium on Buzzard Point. “The difference is that the training facility creates no economic impact,” he said.

Paying for the stadium is one obstacle; assembling the land is another. Mark Ein, a tech investor and owner of the Washington Kastles tennis team, owns property on the northwestern end of the site. He said he had spoken “conceptually” about a stadium with United and Akridge officials but was unaware of the idea to build a stadium using his property. “Look, if it ever came to fruition I would definitely talk to them about it, but it just hasn’t happened,” he said.

D.C. owns two triangular parcels in the stadium’s proposed footprint while Pepco owns generation and substation facilities there. Bob Hainey, manager of media relations for Pepco Holdings, said the company plans to retire its generation units by May but that “all the support facilities including the original generator building will remain.”

“No land will be made available,” he said in an e-mail, and “Pepco is not involved in any discussions about a soccer stadium.”

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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