Major League Soccer team DC United moved a step closer to a new stadium deal last week that could see the team leave RFK Stadium, their home since 1996.
When news broke that Chelsea and AS Roma were going to play at RFK Stadium this summer, my heart sank because going to RFK each time is becoming more of an intolerable experience.
As other teams in Major League Soccer have built brand-new soccer stadiums, it’s upsetting that one of the most successful teams in the league — one that put MLS on the map in this country — still doesn’t have its own home.
RFK Stadium was meant for American football, and has even supported baseball. Both the Nationals and Redskins franchises) have long since gotten newer and more modern facilities but somehow DC government has dragged their feet to get DC United a place to play.
Two years ago, I went to see DC United play Everton at RFK Stadium. One of the Everton supporters I met was angry that he came all the way from New Jersey only to have his seat break as he sat on it. On top of the crumbling seats, the stadium is dark and smelly in places, while the plumbing often doesn’t work and the overpriced food selection is poor.
A new stadium for DC United and this region would do so much for soccer in the area. The area under consideration is still Metro subway friendly and across from the Nationals Stadium, which means fans will have easy access to and from games as well as much better seating. In addition to that, a new stadium will give DC a chance to host more soccer events in the area including more US men’s national team matches. Plus there’s always the opportunity to host special events to generate more revenue for MLS.
With a new stadium, it’ll give DC United the opportunity to improve attendances. If the Nationals can do it in their new stadium, so can DC United.
Before the deal is completed, there’ll undoubtedly be some political maneuverings that will transpire. But hopefully a deal will be completed soon otherwise the team may have to leave the area, which will be a shame for this great MLS franchise.
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