Council hearing tomorrow on D.C. United’s $178m-plus stadium subsidy plan

So, there’s this World Cup thing, which involves soccer, and which lots of people in the U.S. are watching. There are also soccer teams in the U.S., one of which is D.C. United, which has a hearing coming up Thursday on its request for a bunch of public money to help build a new stadium. How do you report on this, if you’re the Washington Post?

Will that enthusiasm carry over to D.C. United as the team pushes for approval of a new stadium?

Because of course rooting for your nation’s team to win an international soccer match is something that could “carry over” to rooting for your city’s team to get a bunch of your tax dollars. Nobody could possibly love soccer but hate the way soccer stadiums are funded!

Anyway, back in the world of real journalism, the Washington City Paper offers a breakdown of the D.C. United deal, based on a handout from D.C. administrator Allen Law, that provides our clearest picture yet of who would be paying for what, though it’s still pretty convoluted. In brief:

      • The city will spend $84.9 million on buying land for the stadium, plus another $34.6 million in infrastructure, for a total of $119.5 million.
      • Of this, $48 million will come out of the city’s capital budget, while the rest will be raised by selling two existing city properties — one of which, the Reeves Center, the city is selling to Akridge (one of the current owners of part of the stadium site) for $55 million, though the city’s official assessment of the land’s value earlier this year was $129 million, while an independent appraiser hired by the city valued it at $69 million.

D.C. United would received 20 years of property tax breaks and 10 years of sales tax kickbacks, which as previously discussed here would be worth about $63.6 million to the team. The team will pay a $2 per ticket fee to the city starting ten years from now, which at roughly 300,000 tickets sold per year, discounted to present value, amounts to about $4.6 million that the city will be getting back.

Total cost to D.C. taxpayers, then: $178.5 million, plus whatever discount D.C. is giving to Akridge on the Reeves Center property. In other words, still pretty darned close to $200 million.

Tomorrow’s hearing is set for 9:30 am, just two and a half hours before the start time of the U.S. team’s must-tie match against Germany; the mayor’s office says a TV will be set up in a briefing room for fans who want to attend the meeting while still watching the game. There will likely be another hearing in September following the delivery of an independent cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the council, so don’t expect any decisions anytime soon.


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6 comments on “Council hearing tomorrow on D.C. United’s $178m-plus stadium subsidy plan

  1. I’m following the World Cup closely enough to know that tomorrow’s game isn’t even a must-tie for the US. More like, “Must not get creamed.”

    If both US and Portugal end up with 4 points, it goes to goal differential, and right now, losing to Germany 4-1 was a pretty awful move for Portugal. US would have to lose by a fair amount to get eliminated; a tie would bring it home easily.

    I’m rooting for a Ghana-Portugal tie; then, the US could lose 10-1 (that won’t happen) and it won’t make any difference.

    Why yes, I am a geek. What makes you say that?

  2. Unless Ghana wins, in which case things are trickier for the U.S. There’s a nice little chart if you click through on “must-tie.”

  3. I’m rooting for the US and German players deciding to play 90 minutes of “who can put the most 80 yard shots on goal?” just to drive the FIFA honchos nuts.

  4. The only way the US does NOT get into the next round if ALL of the following events happen:

    – US loses to Germany
    – Ghana wins over Portugal
    – Ghana improves their goal differential vs. the US by more than two goals. If the above two happen, Ghana will improve their goal differential relative to the US by at least two goals (one per game). Ghana needs one more than that (i.e. Germany wins by two or more goals or Ghana wins by two or more goals).

    If Germany and Ghana each win by one point, then the US and Ghana are tied by all measures. Since the US beat Ghana in their matchup, they get the tie breaker.

    Note that it is possible for Portugal to win over Ghana which would substitute Portugal for Ghana in the above description. However, Portugal would need to improve their goal differential vs. the US by three more goals than Ghana would making this scenario much less likely than Ghana winning.

  5. Maybe the players on both teams will just spend the 90 mins practising the vuvuzela (or caxirola, if you prefer).

    Love the way cities go to great lengths to explain that “only” $X million will come from it’s capital account”… so don’t you worry, folks,, we’re going to raise the rest by selling public assets (which is like totally free money because we don’t have to cut the grass on the land we sell after we sell it, so it’s really like the team is doing us a favour by telling us to sell that land and give the money away…)

    Not hard to see how some of these tools end up selling the family silverware to pay this months gas bill is it?

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