Couple of takeaways:
What’s the state of the club’s finances?“It’s a struggle for us here at RFK. We have the highest expenses and lowest revenue.”Can you renegotiate the lease?“We’re talking to EventsDC [which manages the stadium]. We’ve always had a good relationship with them. I think they recognize our situation. We’re hopeful we can reach an agreement that makes more sense and allows us to remain here. It’s about the amount we pay and the amount we make here. Compared to the average team in our league, the combination of expenses and revenue, we’re about $2.85 million worse per year: about $1 million more in expenses than the average MLS team and about $1.85 million less in revenue. It’s a lot of money.”How long can you keep going at that rate?“We can’t.”
So true. Average attendance is up a little this year, but still no where near the 2007 mark of just shy of 21,000. So game day revenue is probably not getting any better. The fact is, that DC United needs its own stadium, one that it controls and one that will allow it to grow better. DC United is not the worst in average attendance, being in the middle of the pack, but without their own stadium or at least a much better deal (which is very unlikely at RFK) then chances are the losses will continue to mount.
Speaking of stadiums:
Fans are waiting. They’ve heard all the rumors, rumblings, false alarms. So should they expect something soon?“I hate to put a date on things. It’s not like we’re not working on this, but it’s not easy. It’s complicated. And it’s not something that lends itself to being negotiated in the media. I know it’s frustrating for our fans, but trust me, it’s a lot more frustrating for us. We’re doing the best we can. We’re pushing as hard as we can. I think everyone is dealing in good faith. We certainly hope we have some resolution sooner rather than later, but I’m not going to put a time on it.”You’ve been pursuing a stadium plan for a long time. Meanwhile, Houston’s stadium is going to open next year. Kansas City moved into a new stadium this year. Most of the teams around the league are playing in a new or renovated stadium. What makes this situation so different that you haven’t been able to get a deal done?“We spent a lot of time and effort on Poplar Point [park land across the Anacostia from Nationals Park]. Through no fault of our own, the District and the federal government haven’t been able to reach agreement on the land transfer, so we had to start over again. We probably wasted time in Prince George’s County [Maryland], in retrospect, and then had to start over in D.C. At the same time, we were contacted by Baltimore. Houston spent quite a bit of time on it too and frankly the resources of AEG are the reason they were finally able to say, ‘We’re going to do it.’ We’re not in that position. We’re not Red Bull. We’re not Kansas City, which got public financing for their stadium.”
The soap opera that is the stadium issue for DC United is getting quite morose. The fact of the matter is that the District of Columbia has tossed aside a soccer specific stadium on more than one occasion. There probably won't be a DC United stadium in the District of Columbia, so the question becomes, where else will it go. I think DC United wants to build a stadium inside or very close to the Beltway, but sites further out may be more economical. But DC United and owner Will Chang are not going to get investors without a stadium plan in place. The fans are getting anxious, but unlike other locales (such as Houston) there are too many internecine squabbles over location, jurisdiction, traffic and the like to make the selection process easy.