D.C. United could be moving to Baltimore, Virginia, Poplar Point…Dubai. Or, most likely, it will stay put. D.C. mayoral candidates aren’t courting the team or its fans this election period, and United looks a sure bet to stay in aging RFK Stadium until a municipality steps up with stadium money. Not likely in this political climate.
A soccer-specific stadium, especially in D.C., is ideal for a team with lots of MLS history and a usually strong fanbase (except when, as it is now, United is the worst team in the league). Many MLS teams now boast such stadiums, which offer a more European experience with tighter crowds and more sell outs. That would certainly be something to be celebrated. But MLS still isn’t the hottest ticket; would a new stadium only affect the lives of a small number of people in the region? No, in fact, the whole city could gain.
More important than a stadium for United, but tied into the process nonetheless, is the opportunity for the city to get a much-needed do-over on the Stadium-Armory area, which rubs up against the Anacostia and has excellent access to 295 and a beefy, two-entrance Metro station (Eastern Market, Potomac Avenue and Capitol South are all single entrances). It also has lots of fast-moving traffic, few trees and zero shopping or restaurants. There is already plenty of housing in the area; that shouldn’t go anywhere. Only the blight created from the sprawling stadium complex has to leave.
There was a study years back on what to do with the area surrounding RFK, but practically speaking, until a solution for United’s stadium woes is found, the study is just a pipe dream. But if the team, or a politician who takes the team under his/her wings, makes the connection between a new soccer stadium and redevelopment of a concrete wasteland — devoid of amenities with the exception of the Anacostia Riverwalk — United might be playing in a new stadium more quickly than you might think.
Under that scenario, couldn’t we all get behind Barra Brava?