Md. Mulls Luring D.C. United Away From District

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; 2:36 PM

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is asking the Maryland Stadium Authority to pursue luring the D.C. United soccer franchise from the District by helping the team find a site for a new stadium in the state.

In a letter to authority Chairman Frederick W. Puddester today, Franchot noted that United's negotiations with D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to build a new 27,000-seat stadium in the city have stalled.

"In the wake of these developments, I would strongly urge the Maryland Stadium Authority to meet with representatives from the United to learn more about its proposal and explore potential opportunities to bring this great franchise to the State of Maryland," Franchot wrote. "If an ideal site could be found and a development agreement reached with the franchise, this project could yield enormous benefits for our State."

The letter comes less than a week after United principal partner Victor B. MacFarlane announced that he has hired consultants to examine potential stadium sites in Maryland and Virginia.

United officials had been informally negotiating for months with the Fenty administration to build a stadium and mixed-use development at Poplar Point, a 110-acre strip of parkland along the Anacostia River. But the mayor broke off talks during the summer and opened a competitive bidding process to solicit other proposals for the site.

MacFarlane, who bought the team with a partner in January, said last week that it is increasingly unlikely that he will be able to enter the competition because United cannot meet the economic parameters set by the city.

Fenty administration officials, who met with MacFarlane last week, said they remain open to working with United to find a suitable new home in the city. The team plays at 46-year-old RFK Stadium.

Under his initial proposal, MacFarlane offered to pay for the $150 million stadium if the city allowed him to build 8 million square feet of development at Poplar Point. MacFarlane also has asked that the city contribute $350 million in infrastructure for the overall project.

But under the terms of the competitive bidding process established by Fenty, developers have been asked to submit proposals that limit development to about 4 million square feet. Bids are due Nov. 2.

In his letter, Franchot said that stadiums "can be a dependable catalyst for economic development that is compatible with Smart Growth principles. The construction of the facility itself, along with the surrounding infrastructure, would create good-paying jobs at family-supporting wages.

"When complete, the stadium would attract fans and tourists from throughout the region, all of whom would be eating in Maryland restaurants, shopping in Maryland retailers and even staying in Maryland hotels," he wrote. "The enormous tax revenues generated on game nights alone would provide an enormous benefit to a State that is currently searching for reliable revenue streams to balance its budget."

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