WASHINGTON – As the Audi Field ribbon cutting ceremony commenced Monday, the dignitaries sat in a line, drenched in sun at the stadium’s northwest corner.
Before them, a woman read her poetic ode to the beautiful game, verse rich with a rhythm rooted in a city culture that long predates D.C. United’s arrival.
Behind them – maybe 15 yards or so – head coach Ben Olsen held his youngest son aloft and a cluster of club legends stood against the doors of D.C.’s new jewel: John Harkes posing for a selfie with Jeff Agoos and Jaime Moreno.
And so began a program that combined the pomp and circumstance with the intensely personal. After nearly two decades of uncertainty, a permanent fortress for MLS’s original giants was finally open ahead of Saturday night's first match (8 pm ET on ESPN+ in USA, TSN1 in Canada).
“My friends, that roadtrip is over,” emcee and longtime voice of D.C. United, Dave Johnson, told the crowd. “We are here. We are home in Washington D.C.”
“Today’s the day we’ve been waiting for,” said club co-owner and managing partner Jason Levien. “A landmark day in a landmark year for D.C. sports. It’s difficult to overstate the magnitude of what today represents.”
Following the ceremony, those in attendance got a glimpse at the stadium from the concourse, taking in the views inside the imposing new ground, one with steeply banked seats that suggest the promise of noise rivaling RFK Stadium’s most riotous nights.
Olsen had already experienced some of that in a scrimmage held by the team at Audi Field two weeks ago.
“Very few people were allowed in, and the noise level, the acoustics were fantastic,” Olsen told reporters about that exhibition. “I can’t just wait to get everybody in here and let this place start to rock.”
AUDI FIELD OPENING: D.C. United is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony and housewarming party from 4:30-7 p.m. for the brand new Audi Field!
AUDI FIELD OPENING: D.C. United is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony and housewarming party from 4:30-7 p.m. for the brand new Audi Field! The first game at the stadium is this Saturday night. http://bit.ly/2NH5HkCPosted by ABC 7 News - WJLA on Monday, July 9, 2018
It’s up to this new-look club, fresh off signing Wayne Rooney to the most expensive contract in club history, to provide the inspiration.
“I want to help this team go forward to win titles and it’s my job to try and do that,” Rooney told the crowd. “And hopefully in the next few years we can bring some titles and create some history in this wonderful stadium.”