*Ben Olsen has been associated with D.C. United since 1998: 12 as a player, eight months as an assistant coach and three as the head coach. He’s the most public face of the organization and a longtime District resident. No one has endured more ups and downs with stadium talk/gossip/rumor/speculation/promise/failure than the former midfielder.
On this go-round, however, he has got a good feeling.
“This one feels different than the other ones. I think I have a little more background on the legitimacy of this,” he said Thursday morning ahead of Mayor Vincent Gray‘s news conference announcing a plan to build a soccer stadium at Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington.
“It’s just a great day. For those of us who have been around this club for a long time — fans, people who have worked upstairs in the front office, players — this is a huge day for us. We understand it’s the first step and we are a little bit programmed not to get too excited about this stuff, but again, this one feels different.
“The fact this now Washington, D.C. [mayor’s office] is committed is special. Shovels in the ground are a different thing — I know that. But D.C. has come out and committed to a team that has been committed to them and to this city for 17 years. I am so excited. I am so excited for all the people who have been through the times when we have struggled with stadium news. The good news comes at a very good time because there hasn’t been a lot of good news this year,” referring to United’s MLS-worst 2-14-4 record.
What do the players think of a facility to replace RFK Stadium?
“There is a good buzz” in the locker room this morning, Olsen said. “I just explained it to them. Some of them probably don’t understand what this means and probably aren’t as excited as some of us who have been around and have seen what a struggle it has been to get to this point. I think they get it. I think they understand it will be a couple of years before it comes to fruition but, hey man, it’s a great first step.”
*In his morning column, Post city government reporter Mike DeBonis examines the political pitfalls of the stadium proposal and the challenges that lie ahead.
*Here’s where Jonathan O’Connell’s story appeared in the print edition: