D.C. United and RFK Stadium are close to reaching agreement on a new lease deal that will allow the MLS club to continue playing at the 51-year-old facility, United President Kevin Payne said Monday.

“We’re negotiating in good faith with Events D.C.,” the organization that operates the stadium on the city’s behalf, Payne said. “We hope to have something done shortly.”

There had been speculation that United might seek an alternative venue as an interim solution while the club pursued a new stadium project. But with the season set to begin in less than five weeks, it became clear United would remain at RFK for the foreseeable future.

Both sides need one another: United has called RFK home for all of its 16 seasons and the facility has no other full-time tenants.

United’s season opener is March 10 against Sporting Kansas City.

“We obviously awkwardly have not made a formal announcement yet, but given the timing I think it’s safe to assume we will be playing at RFK,” Payne said. “We do expect an announcement shortly of a new relationship with Events D.C.”

For the new stadium outlook.....

United has been pursuing a more favorable lease agreement to allow the club to reduce financial losses. Terms of a potential new deal weren’t disclosed.

On the topic of the stadium search, Payne said: “There’s nothing new to report. In Maryland, the process is that there will be discussions during this [general assembly] session about some money to further study the stadium opportunity in Baltimore. We’re not the ones doing that; that’s something the Maryland Stadium Authority will be pursuing as part of their study process.

“Here in D.C., we continue to talk with a number of government leaders. We had a meeting last week with the chairman of the Council to talk about process. We’re confident that the District of Columbia and its leadership wants us to remain here and wants to find a way to work with us to accomplish that. We continue to work on parallel charts.”

Asked if the city’s budget surplus might be applied toward a stadium project, Payne dead-panned: “They didn’t call us and offer us the surplus.”

On a serious note, “It certainly doesn’t hurt to the extent that the District is in better shape financially. That helps the conversation.”

Lots of team news to come shortly.....