D.C. and United approve stadium deal (again), stick taxpayers with most cost overruns (again)

The city of Washington, D.C. and D.C. United have officially agreed to a new stadium deal! Yes, they already officially agreed to one last December, but apparently they left out a few things, and then one thing led to another and suddenly team execs were lunching with development officials from Virginia, and anyway, now it’s really settled, so the stadium is happening for sure.

Along with the previously announced $183 million in public cash and tax breaks, the new, updated deal provides that:

  • D.C. United will agree to pay for half of the first $20 million in any cost overruns.
  • The team will also provide a $5 million escrow fund to reimburse the district for its costs if the stadium ends up not getting built for any reason.
  • The district has to either reach an agreement to buy the stadium land by September 30, or begin eminent domain proceedings to seize the land from its current owners. If it fails to do so, United can seek to relocate elsewhere.

This is maybe a marginally better deal for taxpayers than the earlier one — originally United’s owners weren’t going to pay anything for cost overruns, so $10 million is better than nothing. It’s still the case, though, that the team’s costs are capped, while the public’s are not. But then, it’s not like D.C. has any experience with sports stadium projects sticking taxpayers with ballooning costs.

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