A hot topic for both soccer and mainstream media for the last few days has been DC United’s proposed move to Prince George’s County. The move got closer to reality following an afternoon press conference in Largo, MD on Monday. The proposed deal for a 24, 000 seat stadium is estimated to cost just under $200 million with 25% of the funding coming from the team. According to the Washington Business Journal,
“a feasibility study published by the Stadium Authority in September guessed that the team was likely to produce $65 million to $80 million in economic activity annually, which could mean the equivalent of more than 1,000 full-time positions and bring in more than $5 million in annual tax revenue.”
As is almost a necessity when trying to sell a publicly financed sports arena, promises about dozens of additional (non DC United) events are at the forefront of the proposal. These include concerts, college soccer, womens’ soccer and more.
Footiebusiness.com will certainly cover the financing of this deal as it moves forward. But another interesting factor is the potential impact of such a move on United’s devoted fan base. Will fans from Northern Virginia willingly make the trip to Maryland? Steve Goff of the Washington Post pulled an interesting quote from DCU president Kevin Payne:
“Our largest fan base is from Northern Virgina… We recognize that we may to change our fan base a little bit. It’s possible we’ll have more fans now from places like Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County, Howard County, up into Baltimore. Perhaps fewer will be able to make it from places like Loudon County. But our fans are very, very loyal…We expect those fans to come with us.”
Most of the proposed sites are on the Metro which seems to mitigate against the attendance impact of moving out of the city. I suspect that the potential revenue from a new stadium would make up for the loss of some game day attendance. No more rent and full control of concessions, combined with the ability to rent the stadium to other parties is likely too good a deal to pass up for Victor MacFarlane.