D.C. zoning commission likes United stadium, just wishes it looked less like a prison

The D.C. Zoning Commission held its first hearing on D.C. United‘s new stadium being built with the help of $183 million in city money, and the commissioners didn’t sound too thrilled with the team’s bait-and-switch stadium design:

“I actually looked at it and it and I thought, this reminds me of a prison, the facade,” [commissioner Marcie] Cohen said. “I think we need to get a little bit more, maybe a little bit more friendly to the neighborhood, because if I’m looking at the facade, I wouldn’t be too happy with that view.”

What Cohen was talking about was presumably this, which, yeah, she has a point:

dc-united-pressNot to mention: Ghost balloons! Eeeagh!

The good news for United owner Erick Thohir is things like spiffing up the exterior are relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things, so they should be able to make the commissioners happy with a few tweaks. And if not, well, Thohir is only on the hook for half of the first $20 million in cost overruns, so it’ll be more the city’s problem than his.

Speaking of Thohir, he also owns Italian soccer giant Inter Milan, and had this to say yesterday about that team’s new-stadium campaign:

“If you look at future revenue, the stadium is very important, just look at what Juventus make with ticket sales. Both Milan clubs are working to improve the stadium, otherwise we’ll lose €20m in profit.”

Lose €20m in profit compared to what exactly? Compared to what they make now? Compared to what Juventus makes now? Compared to what they’d make in a new stadium? How does Thohir know what his profits would be in a new stadium when he doesn’t even know how much he’d have to spend on it? Do sports team owners even think before saying these things, or is it like those “You’re going to be grounded for the next six months!” threats that parents blurt out before thinking what they’re saying or how they’ll enforce it? Anyway, nice to see that while Europe may be far behind when it comes to lavishing public money on its sports teams for no good reason, America doesn’t yet have a monopoly on stupid.


8 comments on “D.C. zoning commission likes United stadium, just wishes it looked less like a prison

  1. Losing ’20 million in profits’ is not the same as losing 20 million dollars.
    It sounds more like there was a chance to earn an extra 20 million on top of what I currently earn, but I failed to grab it. I lost 300 million in profits because I didn’t pick the right lottery numbers.

  2. If the District has some kind of architectural/design review committee (I would expect they do), then this could hold up approval. Should be an easy fix though.

  3. Italian teams, like many US teams, are usually tenants in city-owned stadiums. Many top Italian teams are complaining that this arrangement really doesn’t allow them to be competitive with other top European clubs.

    In the case of Juventus–they actually built their own stadium. I’m always curious how they planned to build such a high-amenity stadium in an expensive location with only about 100 million Euros of the club’s own money. Strange, that.

  4. Yeah, IIRC the land deal was obscenely cheap and brokered with or through a 3rd party. For comparison. Arsenal’s stadium (also paid for by the club) cost about 4x what Juve paid for its.

  5. The bait and switch routine was completely predictable form a team that was exposed as having a shadow co-owner who was was caught embezzling from his old company. The Council should be asking why are they paying for two sports arenas for teams that play a small number of home games in front of very small crowds (the United and the Mystics). Also, why are they promoting both venues ability to draw in concerts and other events without questioning whether they are set up to compete against each other.

  6. GDub: I believe Juve was able to build their stadium so cheaply because they had an amazing number of “volunteers”. Nudge Nudge. Wink Wink.

  7. The city could buy the franchise and build a quality stadium for that cost. Of course, they’ll like shell out for a United stadium and a new Redskins stadium having learned nothing from Nationals Park.

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