Friday, February 13, 2009

Not Happy About D.C. United's Proposed Move To P.G. County

DC United, Washington's MLS professional soccer team, is planning to move to Prince George's County, according to the Washington Post.

We hope it won't happen. For years, United has played at old, decrepit RFK stadium in the District. While not the ideal venue, RFK is convenient, easily reached by Metro or car, with plenty of parking.

United deserves a new stadium--a facility suited to soccer, rather than built for baseball. The plan had been to build a new stadium at Poplar Point in the District, but that proposal has evidently fallen by the wayside, caught up in D.C. politics and the perils of the economy.

So now United is reportedly focused on a number of sites in P.G. County. We don't understand why. We'd bet that a relatively small proportion of United's fan base is located in P.G. County, and while some of the sites being considered are near Metro stations, they aren't particularly convenient.

Of course, the real answer is probably money--it always is. But if United picks a lousy location, it will be a long term loser for the team.

United is not the Redskins. When D.C.'s football elite decamped to Maryland a number of years ago, to a decidedly lousy location, they had the advantage of having tens of thousands of desperate fans on waiting lists for tickets. People go out to Fed-ex field not because they want to, but because they have to. And football is only 8 home games a season, usually on Sunday afternoon, so it's not as big a deal.

United's fans may not be as loyal, especially if the team plays like it did this past season.

In any event, one wonders what D.C. is planning to do with the vast tract of land on which RFK and it's parking lots sit. There's no reason why the City couldn't raze RFK, build a new soccer stadium--which would be much smaller--and add a large new mixed-use development as well by utilizing the space more efficiently.

We'll be sorry to see D.C. United become P.G. United. We hope they poll their fans before committing to a move, and hope they reconsider.

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