The Washington Post

D.C. United’s Kevin Payne addresses new investors and stadium outlook

On D.C. United’s super-fine “Capital Soccer Show” weekly podcast hosted by DC101’s Greg Roche and DCU’s Sebastian Salazar, club president Kevin Payne addressed the imminent addition of new investors and how that relates to a stadium project.

On current investor Will Chang adding partners, most notably Indonesian media executive Erick Thohir, a part-owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.....

“I think it’s important for people to understand and remember Will Chang never intended to own 100 percent of D.C. United. He lives in San Francisco, he has a myriad of business interests in San Francisco and he’s very busy with that. He never anticipated shouldering the entire economic burden himself, whether it was for our day-to-day operations or something extraordinary like building a stadium. So the first thing that happens by bringing in new majority investors — investors with substantial resources — it helps Will shoulder the burden and it gives the team the opportunity to think a little bit bigger about some things. It will definitely help our stadium process and we will be in a position to compete with any team in the league when it comes to availability of resources. That doesn’t mean we’re going to rush right out and do silly things, but we’re not going to be left behind by anybody.”

On the perception, perhaps fueled by stories in The Post’s Capital Business section, that progress is being made on the stadium front.....

“Some of it is somebody keeps sharing confidential documents with a reporter. It’s a little bit frustrating because these are not simple stories. We’re not prepared right now to talk about the entire story, and we’re not in a position to talk about the entire story. There’s still a lot of discussion that needs to be had with either jurisdiction, D.C. or Baltimore. These are big investments and they are sophisticated public-private partnerships. The newspaper would like it to be simple, so they are reporting about what they know. In a lot of cases, they don’t know the whole story, but people understand that with the advent of new majority ownership with Will maintaining a very significant stake in the team — and we hope that will occur this month, there’s no guarantee it will happen this month, but that’s what we are hoping — that will make the conversation a lot easier with either jurisdiction. It will put us in a better position to say, ‘Here’s what we are capable of doing as part of this process.’”

On his level of optimism.....

“I am always optimistic. If I wasn’t, I probably would’ve killed myself a long time ago, [laughter] given the fact that I’ve been working on this stadium since ... 2003? I thought we had a deal done in 2007 [at Poplar Point in southeast D.C.] and that unfortunately unraveled. As it turns out, the District still hasn’t taken title [from the federal government], so I guess it probably would’ve been a different sort of frustration. The [current] plan we have discussed with the District [at Buzzard Point] makes some sense. We have to get back together with the District [for talks], and we’ve told them there is not a lot of point in meeting again to rehash the same conversations until we had a different position to reflect. And I think that will occur once we are able to conclude a transaction to bring in new partners. We hope that will happen reasonably soon.”

To listen to the entire podcast, visit this link. The investors-stadium issue is addressed around the 27-minute mark.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.

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