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Details Given on United's Proposed Stadium

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 1, 2004; Page D05

A proposed soccer stadium on the east side of the Anacostia River would include 24,000 seats and approximately 40 suites and additional club seats, according to D.C. United President Kevin Payne.

In an e-mail to season ticket holders this week, Payne wrote: "We are not in a position at this time to discuss many details of our plans publicly. However, given the publicity, which has arisen of late, here's what we can tell you.

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"We are discussing a 24,000-seat soccer stadium, with approximately 40 suites and a suitable number of club seats, a pub-style restaurant with access from inside and outside the stadium, and permanent staging at one end of the facility to accommodate outdoor concerts."

A United spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail and its details.

Payne, who has declined to publicly discuss specifics of the stadium plan, also said in the e-mail that "we would build, adjacent to the stadium, a high-level training center, with fields for the D.C. United first team and our development teams. There is also the possibility of a U.S. Soccer training center being part of the complex" that would be used periodically by men's and women's, as well as youth, national teams.

The U.S. Soccer Federation, which oversees the sport in this country, has a similar arrangement at Home Depot Center, an 18-month-old soccer complex in Carson, Calif.

Preliminary plans for a Washington soccer stadium to be built near Poplar Point in Anacostia were revealed by D.C. government officials last week. The stadium would be part of a mixed-use development project involving local developer John E. "Chip" Akridge III and billionaire Phil Anschutz, who operates five MLS teams, including United. Anschutz also financed the construction of Home Depot Center, where the Los Angeles Galaxy plays home games and where various international soccer competitions have been held.

United has been hoping to move into a new complex by the start of the 2007 season. Meantime, however, the club is preparing to share RFK Stadium, its home since MLS was launched in 1996, with the Expos baseball team, which was officially relocated to Washington on Wednesday.

The city is planning to open a 41,000-seat baseball stadium in Southeast, across the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge from the proposed soccer facility, in 2008, but financing for the project has yet to be approved.

Although much of the soccer development would be on private property, a portion of the complex probably would be built on National Park Service land. Park Service officials confirmed last week that they have participated in preliminary talks about the project. Any development would require public hearings and approval by the Commission on Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission, a process that could take several months.

In the e-mail to season ticket holders, Payne added, "While we are excited about the progress we have made in these discussions, some important details remain to be worked out."

United Notes: Defender Ryan Nelsen was fined $250 by MLS for "his actions" toward referee Jair Marrufo following his first-half ejection from last Saturday's 1-0 loss at Columbus.


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