Tuesday, February 17, 2009

DC United Stadium In PG County

A Fan's Perspective by PJ

On Monday DC United top brass held a press conference with PG county government officials announcing their intention to build a new 24,000 seat soccer specific stadium in the county.

I'm cautiously optimistic about this development. I'm going to miss the bouncing seats at RFK, but it is literally falling apart. The lights go out during games. There are potholes in the parking lot large enough to swallow an SUV. More importantly, DC is never going to be profitable there. Victor Macfarlane, Kevin Payne and company are business owners. They're not doing this to lose money. In the long run no profits equals no team, so I don't know how anyone can deny the need for a move to a soccer specific stadium.

I and every other DC United fan would prefer the stadium to be in the city. Urban stadiums are just cooler, they're centrally located for the entire fan base, and they look great on TV (see Toronto). On top of that the team is DC United. It feels sort of wrong for them to play in the suburbs.

That said, I'm amazed at how enraged of a lot of fans, particularly those from NOVA, are about the potential move. It isn't like DC United didn't do everything they could to build a stadium in DC. The DC government has made it clear that they don't care about DC United getting a stadium. DC United has spent a ton of time and money on community outreach. They've worked with the city for years hoping to revitalize the Poplar Point area. And they've put up with constantly changing bid requirements for that redevelopment. Meanwhile, the city council is busy focusing on dreams of luring the Skins away from one of the most profitable stadiums on earth. A soccer specific stadium in DC is simply not going to happen. The only conclusion is that DC needs to look for a stadium in Maryland, Northern Virginia, or, god forbid, another city.

This is where a lot of fans lose me. If you read the comments on Goff's blog you'd think this is the end of the world. Admittedly, the comments on a blog are generally not the place to look for reasoned and considered discourse (my man Chest Rockwell excepted) There also are a lot of people saying reasonable things. Still, I'm surprised at how angry some people are. A lot of Virginians are pissed. Check out some of the comments:

"Total Joke. Good bye DC United. The end of a (great) era. No way I am driving out to PG county for games…how would I get home (ie I like to have beers at the game which makes metro a great option) There goes the spirit of the crowd. It has been said, but ask the Redskin fans to compare the two experiences. Thanks for a losing team and bad stadium location Victor." – kramva

"the fact is since dc united started fans from NOVA have been pulling the freight and been the majority of what is widely considered the best fan base in MLS. We just got hosed. Good luck with "changing" your fan base kevin payne. Let us know how that works out for you." – restonhoops

"I think 24,000 seats in PG will be plenty. The Wizzards/Capitals move to town & the Redskins apparent interest in returning is telling. McFarlane is brilliant, but even he can't make a wasteland 'urban'." – SWTrevor

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand Virginia / Maryland rivalry. As a proud Marylander I get angry every time I cross the Potomac. So I would certainly be disappointed about a move to Virginia. Hell, I live in PG County and I'm still disappointed about a move to PG County. But it isn't like the team is moving to the SoccerPlex way out in Germantown. They're looking around Morgan Boulevard. We're talking about four metro stops. It's next to the Beltway. This is adding 15-20 minutes if you're coming from Virginia. We're not talking about Bridgeview or Frisco. We're not talking about FedEx field, which goes out of its way to make the Metro inconvenient and seats 90,000 traffic clogging fans. If the stadium was being built in Arlington I'd be upset about visiting the former confederacy more often, but I wouldn't cancel my season tickets.

To be clear, my defense is conditional on picking one of the metro accessible sites. The stadium needs to be metro accessible by foot.

Finally, we're still a long way away from singing "How Many Trophies Have You Won?" at dejected Red Bulls fans in a new stadium. So until that glorious day, everyone needs to calm the hell down and hope that DC gets an appropriately sized, modern, metro accessible stadium sometime in the near future.

¡Vamos United!


Chest said...

This is a great summary of how a reasonable DCU fan should feel. I truly hope the NoVA whiners popping up are oddballs, and not indicative of the general Virginian fan's sentiments.

PG County isn't a perfect location, but if everything around DCU was perfect, we'd have spent the majority of the last decade with a center back pairing of Ryan Nelsen and Eddie Pope, Ben Olsen's ankles would be stronger than diamonds, and players like Kevin Alston would have come up through the academy and not been drafted by the New England Jerkfaces. My point is that following any MLS team requires being able to take imperfections, slights, and irritants in stride.

Patrick said...

Thanks, Chest. I really was genuinely surprised how angry some people are.

However, in reading over the comments on Goff's blog I think this is what most fans think. The ones who are acting crazy seem to be a pretty small minority, which is good. Basically, I feel lot more comfortable about the fan reaction than when I wrote this.