Page 2 of 2   <      

Fenty: No Deal for Poplar Point Soccer Stadium

Ward 8 residents are pushing to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River.
Ward 8 residents are pushing to use a soccer stadium as a catalyst to develop Poplar Point, along the Anacostia River. (By Alexandra Garcia --

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who voted against the baseball financing, said, "We learned in the baseball debate that the public is leery of public financing, and there are many who will say, 'Here we go again.' "

D.C. United began threatening to move to Prince George's County after Fenty broke off informal negotiations with team owner Victor B. MacFarlane in July. Fenty thought that MacFarlane's plan, which required $350 million in public subsidies for infrastructure, was too expensive for the city.

"We do not have any deal with the District," said Julie Chase, a spokeswoman for MacFarlane.

United plays at the 47-year-old RFK Stadium and will be the sole tenant there after the Nationals move in spring into their new ballpark, near the Navy Yard and South Capitol Street SE.

Fenty has said repeatedly that he would try to keep United in the District. But according to government sources, he has feared supporting a publicly financed soccer stadium lest he become embroiled in the kind of bitter, lengthy political fight that his predecessor, Anthony A. Williams (D), waged over the baseball stadium project.

Williams fought for almost two years before the council gave final approval to the baseball financing package. Among the highlights of the negotiations was a night in 2005 when the council voted to reject one version of the deal, only to reverse course and approve it about 1 a.m.

Fenty, the sources said, wants to ensure that he has the support of the majority of the council before he makes a public announcement.

Even if the council agreed to use public money for a soccer stadium, the larger Poplar Point development project is likely to cost much more in public funds. The Clark proposal could cost $200 million to $350 million for infrastructure, including roads, sewers, lights and the park. Some of those costs almost certainly would fall on the city.

Administration officials will negotiate with Clark Realty for the next six to nine months to nail down the development plan. Environmental remediation could take as long as 1 1/2 years before construction begins, officials have said. The overall plans could take more than a decade to realize, officials said, although the soccer stadium probably would be in the first wave of building, within three to four years.

<       2

© 2008 The Washington Post Company