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Devil is in the poll details
by Paul Kennedy, January 28th, 2014 10:47PM

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TAGS:  d.c. united, mls, soccer business

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[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Just how accurate was the Washington Post poll that showed by a 59-35 percent margin Washington, D.C., residents opposed using city funds to help finance a new soccer stadium for MLS's D.C. United.

(Click here for the poll results. Soccer and baseball survey questions are No. 22-24.)

Aaron Wiener of the Washington City Paper suggested that interest in the project might not be as low as the poll results show. For one, the poll question does not accurately reflect what D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray proposes.

"The poll question is, do you support public financing for a stadium in general?" Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro told Wiener. "Not even the mayor supports that, because what the mayor has proposed is not public financing for a stadium."

D.C. United will foot the bill for the construction of the stadium; the city will obtain the land and complete infrastructure around the Buzzard Point facility.

What makes things difficult for Gray, who is pushing the deal, and D.C. United is that it's a complicated deal since the city does not own the land where the stadium would be built.

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.

The political hurdles are multiple as Gray must find support for the stadium project and the new development where the Reeves Center is currently located.

Wiener also points out interest in soccer might not be as low compared to baseball as the poll findings suggest. According to poll, D.C. residents by a margin of 72-22 percent say the city-financed baseball stadium, Nationals Park, was good investment.

As Wiener pointed out, polls showed D.C. residents favored the baseball project back in 2004 by only similar margins to what they support United's soccer stadium.

What is clear regardless of the polls then and now is that Gray and company will have to do a better job of explaining the deal and how it will benefit D.C. residents.


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