Thursday, January 21, 2010 |
There's a new wrinkle in the DC United stadium saga, and it comes by way of Craig Stauffer at the Washington Examiner; club president Kevin Payne implies that the World Cup hosting fortunes of Washington and Baltimore could be tied to a new facility for United.
I'm going to take a moment to let you read Craig's post and for the information there to sink in.
Payne's contention that the World Cup spot for the cities on the list includes a responsibility to foster "soccer sustainability" is one I'd not heard, or hadn't processed in a way that relates directly to club soccer. If true, and I have no reason to believe it's not, it means that DC United might be playing in Baltimore before too long.
I say that because Baltimore is the city actively pursuing a soccer stadium study, while Washington continues to show abject disinterest in its professional soccer team. United, whether the mainstream sports media and mayor's office like it or not, is an institution in the city, and the only professional team in Washington with a recent history of championship success. It would be a pity to see them leave, and an absolute travesty for their fans.
That means nothing if there's no effort to work with United, though, and Payne's cursory nod towards "quiet talks" doesn't give me much hope. Still, Washington must want the World Cup, right?
I'm not so sure. FedEx Field, the stadium where games would be played, is in Maryland, not the District. Anyone that has seen RFK in recent years knows that there's no conceivable way that facility would host World Cup matches, and will most likely be torn down by 2018 or 2022. If there's nowhere for games to played in DC, and the city government IS responsible for meeting the "soccer sustainability" standard, then United might be out of luck in Washington.
There's one other possible chain of events that could affect United's staying DC, though I expect the club would have either pulled up stakes or found an alternative to RFK by then; the Washington Redskins returning to the District. If the city, as has long been rumored, seriously attempts to lure the NFL team back into DC, then there may be an impetus for them to get a soccer stadium deal done. A brand new Redskins stadium on the RFK site would be a natural place for World Cup matches, and with twelve years until a potential USA World Cup, there's plenty of time for it to happen. If Baltimore is showing the interest in soccer that the bid committee and FIFA want to see, however, and DC doesn't get itself in gear quickly, it may be too late.
I'm fleshing these thoughts out as I write, and might be missing something. Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense, or if you read Payne's comments and the goings on in Baltimore differently.