NEW YORK – Commissioner Don Garber reiterated his concerns about D.C. United’s future on Thursday, when looking ahead to the 2012 MLS season.
In his 2011 State of the League teleconference, Garber confirmed the real possibility of relocating the franchise from their expensive home at RFK Stadium.
“If they can’t get a new improved lease in D.C., they’ve got to move to another facility in the region,” Garber said. “I will be supportive of that and help them do that. If they can’t find a solution in Baltimore, then we’ll have to go through the same process as we did with San Jose to think about potentially moving the team.”
The Commissioner pointed to the franchise being one of the most decorated in the league’s history – four MLS Cups, four Supporters' Shields and two US Open Cups support this notion – and he feels United should be getting more support from local government when it comes to building a new stadium.
“I remain concerned and I’m continually frustrated,” Garber said. “This team has been an important asset for the community. It has delivered on everything that a pro sports team should be focused on. They‘ve been successful for the most part on the field and they’ve been engaged in the community.”
Garber also believes D.C. need to find a solution as soon as possible, as RFK Stadium is not only proving costly, but also ineffective towards the spectator experience.
“I’m shocked to say that I believe they could be paying more for their lease in RFK than any other team we have in the league,” said the Commissioner. “There is no doubt in my mind that it's a stadium that is substandard to what soccer fans are able to experience in many other marks in the US and Canada.”
However, the Commissioner revealed he is not purely asking government officials for a new stadium to be built in the Nation's Capitol. Instead, Garber wants help renegotiating a better deal for D.C. at RFK first and foremost.
“All I know is that Part 1 of this project is not asking the mayor to give us money to build a stadium in D.C.,” Garber said. “The first part is to try to renew a lease at RFK that makes economic sense for a soccer team that delivers great value, employs lots and lots of people and has been a good member of the community.”
Nevertheless Garber remains worried about the road ahead for D.C. United.
“I am concerned about where this team will be in 2012,” Garber said. “We have to aggressively figure a solution out and that solution needs to be figured out soon.”