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.