As the 2012 MLS season approaches in less than a month, D.C. United has yet to formally announce a new deal stating that the team will continue playing at RFK Stadium. And yet we heard some actual positive stadium news today. News that could help keep United in D.C. long-term.
Not only is United close to reaching an agreement with Events DC, the group that controls RFK Stadium, but the team may have also found a partner who is willing to help. Jonathan O'Connell of the Washington Post spoke with members of Events DC, and reading between the lines may give United fans some unexpected optimism.
William N. Hall, a board member at Events DC who was a key player in returning Major League Baseball to the District, said the new lease will "reflect the current economic realities of Major League Soccer in Washington and will more be reflective of the cost-side, or the expense side, of what other MLS teams are dealing with."
"That two-year extension will then provide adequate time for serious negotiations to commence between the city, Events DC and the team about a new soccer stadium in D.C., and one that meets the needs of the city and one that meets the needs of D.C. United," he said.
Gregory A. O’Dell, Events DC president and chief executive, would not disclose terms of the lease but said it could include contingencies to give the team incentives to commit to the District long-term. He said he hopes it will be complete by the team’s first home game on March 10.
And so here we have a group that legitimately wants to help D.C. United. And also legitimately has the ability to help D.C. United. And legitimately has something to gain by helping D.C. United.
That's good news, right?
This comes two weeks after Kevin Payne gave Steven Goff some typically muted optimism in comments about the stadium search.
"Here in D.C., we continue to talk with a number of government leaders. We had a meeting last week with the chairman of the Council to talk about process. We’re confident that the District of Columbia and its leadership wants us to remain here and wants to find a way to work with us to accomplish that. We continue to work on parallel charts."
Parallel Charts! YES!!!
Okay. Muted optimism. Sorry.
Seriously though. None of us can celebrate anything until ground is broken on a new stadium for United in D.C. But it's nice to have some optimistic news, no matter how muted. And it's nice to have someone else in the District on our side.