December 27, 2014 [LINK / comment]
D.C. Council approves new soccer stadium!
After years and years of waiting, fans of the D.C. United soccer team are rejoicing that the city government has finally approved funding for a new soccer stadium. The D.C. Council voted unanimously (12-0) in favor of the proposal on December 17. The agreement specifies that the city will provide $140 million in financing, $106 million of which will be borrowed, while the D.C. United owners will pay for the rest. Acquisition of land is the only remaining hurdle.
The new stadium will have 20,000 seats, mostly covered by a roof, in a plain rectangular shape typical of soccer stadiums, with a curved protrusion on the east side. It will be located three blocks southwest of Nationals Park, in the "Buzzard Point" area. That's basically an industrial wasteland similar to what the land occupied by Nationals Park used to be like. Once again, some local businesses and residents are objecting to being disrupted or displaced, and there may be some eminent domain proceedings in court. Read all about it in the Washington Post.
I wonder what the wishy-washy former D.C. Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp would have said about this deal? (See December 2005, when the deal to build a new baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals almost collapsed.) Or what about former Mayor and Councilman Marion Barry? He opposed the bill to fund what became Nationals Park when the final vote was made in February 2006, and passed away a few weeks ago, after battling a variety of health problems.
This deal means that D.C. United might leave RFK Stadium as soon as 2017. Will demolition soon follow? The last time I was there, on September 28, I noticed that the paint is badly peeling on it. The D.C. Government is pushing to be chosen as hosts of the 2024 Olympic Games, in which case a big new stadium would no doubt be built where RFK Stadium currently stands. Such a new stadium would no doubt become the new home of the Washington Redskins -- or whatever the team may be called in the future.
The deal also signifies belated appreciation for D.C. United, which has to compete against teams that play in stadiums designed for soccer. (A few MLS teams still play in football stadiums.) D.C. United won the MLS Cup four times: 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2004. They have not done as well in recent years, but 2014 they showed a marked improvement, with the best record in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer, with 17 wins, 9 losses, and 8 ties. Unfortunately, they lost to the New York Red Bulls in the playoffs. (Much like the Nationals lost to the wild card Giants in the NLDS this year.) In the championship match held at StubHub Center in Carson, California on December 7, L.A. Galaxy beat the New England Revolution 2-1 in extra time to win the 2014 MLS Cup. (See mlssoccer.com.)
Soccer in baseball stadiums
Speaking of soccer, Zach LaFleur informs me via the "Stadium impressions" feature that soccer was played at Dodger Stadium last year. So I checked, and learned that there were two soccer matches there in August 2013: Real Madrid vs. Everton, and the MLS L.A. Galaxy vs. Juventus. (See latimes.com.) And coincidentally, while going through my stacks of unopened e-mail messages, I found that Mark London had called to my attention several months ago that a soccer match was (to be) played at Miller Park last July. (See onmilwaukee.com.) So, of course I just had to create soccer version diagrams of Dodger Stadium and Miller Park, which you can see -- along with all the other soccer version diagrams -- by rolling your mouse over the stadium names in the list below:
- Dodger Stadium
- Miller Park
- Marlins Park
- Citi Field
- AT&T Park
- Busch Stadium III
- Fenway Park
- Olympic Stadium
- Yankee Stadium
- RFK Stadium
In the process of doing the new diagrams, I learned that the soccer "pitch" (field) at Dodger Stadium was significantly undersized. A normal-sized soccer field would have fit just fine in Dodger Stadium before they added all those extra rows of box seats in 2005. Among the stadiums in the above list, only RFK Stadium and Yankee Stadium had soccer matches on a routine basis, concurrently with baseball games. For all the rest, from what I can tell, it was just special exhibition matches, in most cases one time only. In the course of some research, I learned that at least two other baseball stadiums have hosted a soccer match for which I have not done such a diagram: the Kingdome and Safeco Field.
But wait, there's more! I also created a brand-new Soccer use (of baseball stadiums) page to go along with the existing Football use (of baseball stadiums) page. It describes the various circumstances by which soccer was played at those stadiums, along with the dates. The new page is, of course, a "work in progress." It will be updated to show soccer diagrams of Kingdome and Safeco Field (and perhaps others) at some time in the future.
By the way, if anyone knows of other baseball stadiums used for soccer, please let me know, either by e-mail or just by commenting on this blog post.
OK, I'll get to the actual baseball news tomorrow...