Soccer fans in the Baltimore area have begun receiving an MLS-commissioned survey to gauge interest about a team playing there through expansion or relocation.
The survey alarmed supporters of D.C. United, which has failed to find a replacement for RFK Stadium in Washington and is entertaining proposals from Baltimore.
“We are busy looking ahead to the future of our league,” MLS chief marketing officer Russ Findlay wrote in the e-mail. “As a part of this planning, we are conducting research in Baltimore to help determine the viability of the market as a potential future home of an MLS club.”
Fans are asked, among other things, how likely they would be to attend matches if a current or new team moved into a soccer-specific stadium in the Westport area of Baltimore.
The state of Maryland, city of Baltimore and Maryland Stadium Authority have approached United about moving into a proposed venue in Westport, which is near Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. The plan is still in the very early stages.
However, “we’ve been saying this could happen,” United President Kevin Payne told the Insider. “This isn’t a game. This is serious. This isn’t a bluff. Part of it is trying to understand what that means for our business.
“From our point of view, it’s just due diligence. You have to understand your options. We’re trying to understand the depth of interest in Baltimore.”
United has spent all 16 MLS seasons in Washington but club officials have said playing at 50-year-old RFK is not economically viable. Talks with D.C. officials have shown no signs of progress. Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C., near Nationals Park, has been the club’s primary focus. Previous negotiations, involving Poplar Point in Anacostia and then Prince George’s County in Maryland, collapsed.
The survey also asks fans: If you could influence any of the following MLS teams to relocate to Baltimore, which team would you rather have move to Baltimore?
New York Red Bulls