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United to stay in RFK homeless shelter after PG County spurns team

Bye bye, Prince George’s County

It seems that, on their own, the county’s council listened to some of the concerns I had about a stadium, and added some of their own. I’ve been around too many issues like this to have gone into this an optimist (sorry Mike). And Martin’s comment about this was right on; bureaucracy can do in the best of a deal, and on the surface, I’m not sure if this was the best deal for all parties.

No deal is a lock until shovels are in the ground, and really, not until the opening whistle on the first day the new stadium is opened. 

Team spokesperson Doug Hicks says United is talking with other jurisdictions.

Does this put DC back in play? Virginia? Another Maryland location? St. Louis? Ottawa? Hard to say. But I think the message from legislators is that they want the team to take the most risk, and the government to get the most reward. Governments want to assume as little risk – real or perceived – as possible.  

Somewhere in there there has to be compromise on both sides. 

DC United has to get a good enough deal to make money, and ultimately, so does whatever locality that decides on building  a stadium. 

After much fanfare, and with support from county legislators, some have reversed course. Are we surprised? 

Though I am, and remain, a pessimist about a stadium deal getting done nearterm, I do have hope. 

I just have the feeling that in this economic climate, the team and MLS are going to have to put up most, if not all of the collateral to keep the team in the region.

Only the name remains the same

The press conference has come and gone.  The politicos and official team folks have waxed poetic about how a new Prince George’s County Stadium for DC United will bring scores of jobs and millions to the county. 

But it is really a good deal? And is it a good deal now? 

Whatever happened in DC, the city’s lost one team in the Redskins, and a second should everything go through as PG and DCU officials hope. Again, the District of Columbia dropped the ball on keeping a good community partner in the city – unless a desperation slide-tackle in the Maryland penalty area is successful, and even attempted. That being said, stadium financing and job creation by sports franchises can be a slippery slope also.

Questions, and these are only a few, that need answering:

Jobs – what kind of jobs are we talking about among these 1,000+ full-time equivalents, and how much would people be getting paid? Are these construction jobs, jobs for people after the stadium opens, both? Other? 

Projected revenues? – $5 million in projected tax revenue for the county and $65 million to $80 million of new economic activity in the county and state on a yearly basis? Don’t believe any of that until a stadium is open and you can see first hand whether or not the money is coming in. Studies, at least the ones I’ve seen about similar subjects, usually have loftier projections when they’re touting the good, and less-so when projecting the bad (re: Virginia’s budget deficit). 

Projected revenues II (who gets what) – Part of the reason for moving out of RFK Stadium is to make money, for the team to have its own revenues. The bill says that DC United and PG County are to come to an agreement “that the allocation of revenue from events at the Prince George’s County Stadium is set forth.”

Projected events – 60? OK, 20 of those would be United matches, about 10, maybe for a pro women’s league team should it still be around in three years and a handful for the University of Maryland men’s powerhouse. The rest of the events, it seems, the stadium authority would have to compete for – MLS Cup, MLS All-Star game, World Cup qualifiers and international exhibitions, College Cup, high school and festival-type events, concerts, etc. 

The bill itselfHouse Bill 1282 – that seems to be lost in all the hype. It was introduced Fri., Feb. 13 – yes, Friday the 13th – in the Maryland General Assembly’s House of Delegates by Del. Melony Griffith. No action has yet to be taken on the bill, which sits in the House Appropriations Committee and has had its first reading. State Sen. Anthony Muse is supposed to introduce the Senate version, but has yet to do so. The House version, as yet, has no co-sponsors. Bills must go through three readings in each chamber – once upon introduction, another time after it has a committee hearing (where it can be amended) and then a third time when a floor vote is taken. The General Assembly has 47 senators and 141 delegates.  The text of the bill says the county has already identified a suitable site for a stadium, even as the team said yesterday it will look over several.

The bill, if passed, would take effect June 1, 2009. 

Location – It seems to be mixed on whether its Northern Virginia fan base would travel further to PG County for matches. Some have said it would likely be a few minutes longer on Metro to get there and don’t mind the trip in exchange for a first class stadium, while others say it’s already far enough for them, and a longer trip would be too much. Has the team already identified the fans it might get to replace the ones that – while likely still remaining fans – will not be coming to the matches? Have team officials made any projections on how many fans it might lose? Surely if there are rosy economic figures out there, they’ve got some rosy figures for fan attendance too. 

2012 opening? – Sure, if ground is broken now a stadium could be completed by then, if not quicker, but that assumes all goes well, the economy recovers at some point and no one in Maryland gets cold feet.

It’s a good hope to see a flicker of light at the end of the stadium tunnel. But now’s not the time to stop being skeptical. Read the bill and keep asking questions. We will.

PG United?

Following a scuttled stadium deal at Poplar Point in the District of Columbia, DC United executives signaled their intentions Friday to move the team to Prince George’s County in Maryland and build a 24,000-seat stadium at a cost of $180 million to $195 million. Team co-owner Victor MacFarlane and team president Kevin Payne, will take part in an 11:30 a.m. press conference Monday at Prince George’s Community College where Sen. Anthony Muse and Del. Melony Griffith, members of the Maryland General Assembly, will unveil plans to introduce legislation to allow DC United to move to Maryland and work with the Maryland Stadium Authority to build a stadium. Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson will be among those in attendance. A report commissioned by the Maryland Stadium Authority said a new stadium would generate $65 million to $80 million annually. The stadium is to be paid for by DC United and new revenue generated by the team and stadium, according to a press release about the stadium announcement. The new stadium would not, according to the announcement, “draw on the existing tax base or require lottery funds.”