We haven’t heard much about the proposed new $290 million D.C. United stadium — public cost: $150 million — since back in September, when the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute was complaining that the District only had until January 1 to finalize the city-subsidized land swap to clear space for the stadium. Turns out that’s because almost certainly nothing is going to get finalized by January 1 after all:
Under an agreement the city signed with one of the main landowners, Lew was given a Nov. 15 deadline to share with the council the terms for how the city would obtain the stadium property, enough time, Gray had said, for the council to approve the plan before the end of the year…
Lew now hopes to submit a package of proposed deals to the council before Dec. 25, spokesman Tony Robinson said.
Still, Mendelson said he is loath to pressure the council to rush approval. “Intentionally or not, I fear the council is going to be jammed, and this is too expensive a project for us not be careful about it.”
As the Washington Post notes, it doesn’t help that four city councilmembers — Tommy Wells, Muriel Bowser, Jack Evans, and Vincent Orange (yes, that Vincent Orange) — are all vying to replace Gray as mayor, and so are not likely eager to rubber-stamp Gray’s plan over the holidays. Even Evans, who has never heard a stadium proposal that he didn’t like, griped to the Post: “I have no idea where it stands. Absolutely nothing, zero, I don’t know. I hope to get it done. I support the whole idea, but to do it all so privately and secretively, that’s when you announce it and suddenly have all kinds of critics because you haven’t done the legwork to build support.”
If the land swap isn’t approved by January 1, D.C. United can back out of the deal, or just start soliciting offers from other cities — not that any other cities are really bidding to throw $150 million at the MLS team, but a threat’s a threat. It is puzzling that Gray would set up a short deadline and then fail to actually submit a stadium bill, but maybe either his staff underestimated the difficulty of negotiating for the land, or he saw how well giving elected officials no time to considered a deal worked in Georgia, and is hoping lightning can strike twice.