[MLS SPOTLIGHT]MLS's move to build soccer-specific stadiums is not without its dangers. The stadium projects face huge obstacles as supporters and MLS clubs encounter the realities of local politics. In Washington, D.C., a Washington Post poll found six in 10 residents oppose the city's plan to finance a a new stadium for the D.C. United.
Most significantly, the Post reported that those who strongly opposed to Mayor Vincent C. Gray's deal more than double (39-15) those who strongly support it.
(Click here for the poll results. Soccer and baseball questions are No. 22-24.)
The initiative involves a complicated swap of land as the city finances the purchase of land owned by Akridge, a local developer, in the Buzzard Point section of southwest Washington with the sale of a city office building, the Frank D. Reeves Center, to Akridge.
One of the major issues: what to do on the site of the Frank D. Reeves Center. Residential housing -- luxury apartments -- would be the most profitable use of the site while local residents want more commercial development to attract day-time business.
A nuts-and-bolts issue remains the terms of the agreement with D.C. United. City Administrator Allen Y. Lewtold the Post he was “steering away” from a revenue-sharing plan initially discussed in which the city would receive a share of revenues in return for an abatement of sales and property taxes.
The reality for D.C. United is that soccer is less popular than baseball -- which got a new stadium, Nationals Park, in 2008 -- in Washington even though the stadium is within a half mile of the MLB Nationals' ballpark.
According to the poll, by a margin of 72-22, respondents said the D.C.-financed baseball stadium was generally good investment of city funds; 59-35 oppose using D.C. funds for the soccer stadium.
(Click here for an analysis of the poll from the Washington Post's Soccer Insider, Steven Goff.)