Now that D.C. United’s stadium has traveled through the bureaucracy of Washington, their friends down I-95 are hoping to have an easier time getting their new stadium approved. The Richmond City Council has introduced a bill that will allow the Richmond Kickers to invest $20 million in upgrades to their current home. That home, called City Stadium, was originally built in 1929 as a football stadium (for the low, low price of $80,000). For 80 years it was the home of the University of Richmond football team; if this bill passes, it will be the permanent home of the Richmond Kickers for the next 40 years.
Ordinance 2016-273 was introduced by Richmond’s mayor, Dwight Jones, and calls for a 40 year ground lease to be given to the Richmond Kickers in exchange for them investing “not less than $20 million” in the property. According to the fiscal impact report, there is no cost to Richmond entering into this deal, and it will provide new revenue to the city through leasehold taxes and increased admissions and sales taxes. Also included is the right for the Richmond Public Schools to have football games for their various high schools there without the need for a licensing agreement or fee.
The improvements to the stadium will happen in a series of stages:
- Stage 1, which is required to be completed by 2020, includes improvements to the landscaping, fencing, parking lot, seating, and the field (including irrigation)
- Stage 2, which is required to be completed by 2030, includes improvements to the concourse, signage, stadium lighting, locker rooms, restrooms, adding a scoreboard, more seating enhancements, and a major overhaul to the parking lot.
- Finally, stage 3, which is required to be finished by 2050, includes more improvement to parking, the press box, additional seating, futsal courts, and replacement of the current restrooms
The City Council public hearing is December 12, but all of this action follows a neighborhood study and analysis by the city in which the public participated; proposed options for the stadium site included the soccer stadium, an indoor athletic facility, or a senior living community. The soccer stadium was deemed by that study to be the best use of the property. Mayor Jones has requested that this bill be put on the consent agenda, so it is possible that this could all be wrapped up by the end of the year.
The Kickers are owned by the non-profit Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club, but they are backed by a member of one of Richmond’s leading families. Rob Ukrop, former Kickers player and the first ever goal-scorer for the New England Revolution, is the president of the Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club.