The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Read the D.C. United stadium deal

(D.C. Office of the City Administrator)

Behold the 17-page document signed today by Mayor Vincent C. Gray and D.C. United managing partner Jason Levien putting the city and the team on a path toward building a 20,000-seat soccer stadium.

Note that this does not commit anyone to actually build a stadium. The document is full of opt-outs and other circuit breakers making it easy for matters to get delayed or cancelled outright if things don’t go as planned. If things go as planned — which, by the standards of these types of things would be a miracle — the District would have the land assembled by Jan. 1, the site would be ready for construction by March 2015 and the stadium would be in a state of “substantial completion” by Jan. 1, 2017.

Some other notes:

• The finances of this whole thing remain very sketchy. The agreement does not set out a dollar-value commitment for D.C. United, though it obligates the team to plan, build and operate the stadium if the city does its part to prepare the site. That work is estimated at at least $140 million, with $100 million of that for land acquisition. There are several paragraphs (Section I-D) outlining a revenue-sharing scheme between the team and the city, but it is terribly convoluted and is subject to further agreements between the parties. The ground lease terms, however, are pretty simple: $1 a year for the “useful life of the stadium” — 25 to 35 years.

• Transportation issues are dealt with, somewhat. There is little said about parking except this: “The Parties will work cooperatively together to address parking.” The city is under no obligation to find parking spaces for the team, which is good news, because that became a big-time sticking point on the Nationals deal. The city also agrees to consider accelerating development of a streetcar line to Buzzard Point and building a stadium stop.

• The agreement includes the expected benchmarks for local business participation in stadium construction (50 percent) and stadium operation (35 percent), and D.C. resident hiring for stadium jobs (51 percent, though front-office and team jobs are exempted). The team is also granted the right to engage in “ancillary development” on the site to “enhance the game day experience” for fans, while to a lesser extent providing “amenities to surrounding neighborhoods on non-game days.”

• There is acknowledgement in the term sheet that the trickiest part of all of this will be relocating the Pepco substation on the northeast side of the stadium property. That land is exempted from all of the land acquisition and preparation deadlines, with a mutual acknowledgment that “this portion of the Stadium Site is likely to lag behind the rest of the Stadium Project.” D.C. United has agreed to design the stadium “so that the structure can be completed and available for use without obtaining title to the operational portions of the Pepco substation site.”