WASHINGTON, March 19, 2014 — It’s not clear which way public opinion is swinging towards Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s plan to build a soccer-specific stadium at the Buzzards Point location. However, one thing is clear: there’s is a passionate grassroots campaign by the loyal fans of the four-time championship team D.C. United to build a soccer venue in downtown D.C.
In a display of support for the stadium, over 2,000 D.C. residents, have mobilized in less than three weeks to send over 27,000 emails to the Mayor and Council members, according to a press release sent out by United.
An inspired movement, made up of, local residents, community groups and businesses, is working hard to make its voice heard in support of the proposed stadium at Buzzard Point, not far from the new Nationals’ baseball venue. United has been the city’s most successful sports franchise, winning 13 titles in the last 18 years, boasting an inspired, activist, and dependable following.
Mayor Gray has been a huge backer of the stadium, but the embattled politician is a very tight race in his bid to get reelected. The clock is ticking for Gray as the April 1 Democratic primary approaches.
Whatever happens in the political arena, United’s loyal fan base is trying to reach out to the District’s power brokers to explain their case.
“We are pleased by all the support we are receiving from District residents,” said D.C. United Chief Operating Officer Tom Hunt. “The more people understand the plans, the more they like what is being proposed. We are still in the early stages of our outreach efforts to inform the community about a plan that will benefit the city and its taxpayers. We expect many more D.C. residents to send messages to the Mayor and Council in the coming weeks.”
Backers say the soccer stadium will transform Southwest Washington in the same way that Verizon Center reshaped and revitalized the Gallery Place neighborhood. United plans to privately finance and construct the $150 million stadium. The proposal is expected to generate $387 million in new tax revenue, create 870 construction jobs and 550 permanent jobs. The District, which will lease the stadium site to United, and will retain ownership of the land at the end of the lease period, at which point the property will be reportedly worth more than $700 million.
“The plan is so much more than just a sports stadium. It will create jobs in three different wards and revitalize several different neighborhoods including the Anacostia Gateway,” said Stan Jackson, President and CEO, Anacostia Economic Development Corporation. “In fact, the proposal will generate in excess of 1,000 jobs and redevelopment that is highly needed in Ward 8.”
The new stadium will have many other uses besides soccer and is expected to host over fifty events each year, including concerts, cultural events, school-age sports, college soccer, football and lacrosse.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
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