WASHINGTON – Entering his first full season as D.C. United’s managing partner, Jason Levien stood next to the pitch at RFK Stadium before the club’s home opener and addressed what he called the “800-pound gorilla in the room”: building a new soccer-specific venue for United.
“I use the analogy that we’re going to use a machete and we’re in the middle of the forest right now,” Levien said. “We’ve gotten a lot of cooperation and support from the city, obviously, and I feel like we’re definitely making tangible progress. So hopefully that will continue. I’m anxious to have more specifics to report, but until we do, we’ve just got to keep chopping ahead.”
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In February, Levien told The Washington Post that the team had ruled out building a stadium in Baltimore and he continues to be optimistic that the District and the club will be able to strike an agreement. Levien also said that the support he’s received from the league has been positive.
“I think the league knows that they know they want this team to have the same kind of opportunities that other teams in the league have,” he said. “They know that’s what we want and we made this investment with the realization that, for us to be successful, we needed a new stadium. They know that we’re putting so much pressure on ourselves, they’re not externally putting on more. But I think they’re in it with us, and they know that for D.C. to take the lead in MLS once again, we need a path to a new stadium.
“I talk to [MLS Commissioner Don Garber] or [president Mark Abbott] on a regular basis about it and I think it’s a high priority for them. They’ve also said to us, ‘Whenever you want us to weigh in or need to hear from us, let us know.’ We’re just keeping them abreast of what we’re doing.”
Levien said he and the District are in weekly, almost daily interaction about various issues regarding the logistics of having a new stadium built in D.C.
“It’s very collaborative and positive,” Levien said, “but there are hurdles to figure it all out and we have to put all the pieces together.”