DC Council Chair on Soccer Stadium: “I want this funded now!”

DC for Reasonable Development, Chris Otten, 202-810-2768, dc4reality@gmail.com


DC Council Chair on Soccer Stadium: “I want this funded now!”


Washington, DC – On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, City Council Chairman, Phil Mendelson, led the charge for a new soccer stadium and he received initial consent by his Council colleagues to burden the City with more debt to purchase, clear out, clean up, and prepare industrial land so that DC United can play at Buzzard Point.


At the hearing, Mendelson claimed stadium costs to the taxpayers were to be capped at $150 million dollars but criticism came from Ward 5 Councilmember, Kenyan McDuffie exposing the soft nature of the proposed cost cap and pointing to other expenses not yet anticipated in Mendelson’s plan.


Reports are already predicting that other more hidden costs and city responsibilities will bring DC’s financial commitment to over $200 million taxpayer dollars for a stadium the City will not own.


[ UPDATE: Move on Petition About Stadium Just Published ]

DC’s Office of Attorney General, representing the Mayor, wrote a legal memo to the Council dated December 2, 2014, finding “serious legal sufficiency concerns” with Mendelson’s proposed funding plan for a new soccer stadium.



Parrying OAG’s position, V. David Zvenyach, Esq., the General Counsel to the City Council, pronounced at yesterday’s hearing, “We are right on the law. This is not at dispute.”   



Emboldened by Zvenyach, Chairman Mendelson pressed other Councilmembers hard saying, “I think we need to force the Mayor to fund this [stadium]” through supplemental budget appropriations.


Mendelson complained that Mayor Gray is stonewalling all the work and time he and other stadium boosters have put into making sure the City funds a soccer stadium this year.


Yet, despite the apparent laborious toil to get the City to spend significant tax dollars assisting DC United owners in building a new soccer stadium, at least two Councilmembers were still learning of new details of Mendelson’s funding proposal.


“I didn’t know this would delay the H Street [bridge & streetcar] project,” said a surprised Tommy Wells, Councilmember for Ward 6, the Ward where the stadium may reside. Wells was clearly dismayed that the Chair’s stadium budget would manipulate the capital financing now scheduled to reconstruct a bridge and build streetcar systems, by advancing those budget expectations a year later. this idea.


Councilmember David Catania had to clarify with Mendelson at the Council dais that, as the deal now stands, DC United would only be responsible to pay the City 15% of any increased value the team may accrue if DC United is sold after this deal is consummated and the stadium is built.


With a new stadium, the sheer value of DC United is expected to rise from $61 million in 2012 to $195 million in 2019, according to a report commissioned by the council.


Catania wants a more “equitable” agreement between the City and the team owners, in that DC should expect to recoup at least 50% of any increased team value if the current owners “flip” the team after the deal is made and the City outlays the proposed significant funding.


D.C. United has been sold twice in the past decade and is now controlled by the son of a billionaire coal magnate. http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2012/07/11/sale-of-d-c-united-to-billionaires-son-values-mls-team-at-record-50-million/


At the end of the day, the Council gave its support for Mendelson’s plan, and the Chair is expecting Gray to provide a supplemental budget to the Council to get this deal done now.


Mayor-elect, Muriel Bowser abstained from the vote, noting the weight of the legal issues being raised by the OAG.





In Other News


Approximately 200,000 children are at risk of hunger in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area – 56,000 in the District alone or 1 in 2 children.


70,000 DC Residents Still Wait for Affordable Housing


Hunger and poverty are directly correlated. In the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, there are approximately 633,000 residents are at risk of, or experiencing hunger.



A recent study finds that D.C. has a higher rate of food insecurity among children than any state.



Nearly 15 percent of respondents in D.C. experienced food hardship (reported not having enough money in the past twelve months to buy food for themselves or their family) in 2010.


DC’s wait list for affordable housing is closed
[ UPDATE: Move on Petition About Stadium Just Published ]

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