WASHINGTON – Things have been quiet of late when it comes to stadium-related news in the nation’s capital.
Ever since the club and city’s agreement in December to construct a state-of-the-art, soccer-specific stadium on Buzzard Point in D.C., there's been a lull in news. But that doesn’t mean the club hasn’t drawn even closer to moving into their new home.
United managing partner Jason Levien attended D.C.’s 2-0 victory over Columbus Crew SC on Saturday evening, taking a few moments afterward to mingle with players and coaches in the locker room and congratulate them on their triumph.
It also gave the media in attendance an opportunity to get an update on the stadium development’s progress.
“There’s been a public lull,” Levien told MLSsoccer.com, “but we’re working closely on a weekly basis with the new city administrator and the mayor’s staff, moving the process forward and looking to meet the deadlines that we originally established. So they’re working on the land assembly, we’re working our efforts on planning how to lay things out.”
In early April, the Council officially allocated the funds necessary for cleanup and infrastructure development of the stadium site, and on Tuesday approved a series of technical amendments – minor changes to the bill that don’t affect its overall composition – further clearing the way for shovels to hit the ground.
There remain a few steps: the city still hasn’t acquired the land necessary to build the stadium – those negotiations are ongoing – and in the case of Akridge, the real estate company that owns a large parcel of land at the stadium site, eminent domain looks to be the most likely pathway towards ownership. On Saturday, Levien reflected on that possibility.
“We’re not a party to that discussion. It’s the District and Akridge. We’re hopeful they can work something out – the District, at the end of the day, has the power of eminent domain and when they come to a roadblock that [they can’t pass], they’ll invoke that."
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There’s also the issue of environmental assessments; though the city doesn’t yet own the land, that process has been ongoing. Levien remains optimistic that that process will go along smoothly as well.
"I think one of the questions is going to be – we haven’t completed all the environmental assessments on the land. One of the things that could throw us off is what we find. We feel pretty good about what we found so far, we feel comfortable, but that’s going to be important in terms of our timeframe."
Pablo Maurer covers D.C. United for MLSsoccer.com.