You've seen my response to the Washington Post's poll results write-up that purports to show that 60% of D.C. residents oppose public financing of a new stadium for D.C. United, but I'm far from the only one writing on this. Here's a quick round-up of others who are chiming in. Of course, feel free to add others that you see down in the comments.
Steven Goff, Washington Post - I think it makes sense to start off with the Post's own soccer writer here. Goff seems skeptical of the phrasing of the question, which leaves out necessary detail and the nuances of the plan, opting instead for a "Generally speaking..." approach. I'll note here that it's well worth clicking over to read the entire, thoughtful post (and that applies for all of these responses I'm linking to).
When assessing the high negatives, we must take into account lingering stadium fatigue. Gouged by Major League Baseball and the greedy Lerner family over financing of Nationals Park eight years ago, the public is reluctant to help pay for another stadium. Those surveyed now believe the baseball deal was money well spent; once they saw it, they believed in it. At the time, though, widespread opposition nearly derailed the plan. Resistance to another proposed stadium - particularly one that will house a sport not as popular as baseball - shouldn't come as a surprise.
Comparing the two projects does create a false equivalency: The city invested four times more on baseball than it would on soccer. (Baseball does, however, generate more business than soccer for the city.) The idea of subsidizing a pro sports organization run by wealthy owners does not sit well with the public, no matter what type of ball is involved. United might not spend big bucks on players, but Erick Thohir is worth hundreds of millions and last fall purchased a majority stake in Inter Milan, the 15th most valuable soccer club in the world.
Aaron Wiener, Washington City Paper - WCP's real estate beat got comment from the Gray administration, whose spokesperson was quick to jump on the, we'll call it sloppy, wording of the question.
Gray's top spokesman argues that story's headline and main argument are misleading, because the poll question didn't really reflect what the Gray administration has proposed. "The poll question is, do you support public financing for a stadium in general?" says spokesman Pedro Ribeiro. "Not even the mayor supports that, because what the mayor has proposed is not public financing for a stadium."
Jon Hoffman, D.C. United Outsider - On a less Old Media plane, Hoffman points out that there's some animus to soccer in the community, and that's undoubtedly coloring some of the poll numbers as well.
As much as I would like to believe the contrary, many people do not care about soccer. Like, at all. They're never going to go to a game, or even watch one on TV. And that's really fine. If they were going to be hit with a new tax or lose a public park/school/free ice cream dispensary, I would understand the seemingly widespread disapproval. But this isn't that. The city gets: more residential/commercial space in a hip corridor, a new office building in Southeast, and a new soccer stadium, and the grand total cost of $0 to the taxpayer.
Richard Farley, ProSoccerTalk - Finally, one writer gets introspective about whether we should want the stadium effort to succeed if a majority of city residents are against the principle of it. (My response: Yes. And in any event, we don't know if a majority opposes the specific plan at issue here because that's not what the poll asked.)
The question that I can't get out of my mind, as somebody who has a vested interest in soccer's growth: Should I be rooting for D.C. United to get this deal when most of the district's citizens oppose it? We get so caught up in ‘Yay, they got a venue,' and ‘wow, look at that new park," that we never stop and consider how much those projects make sense outside of our soccer bubbles. Would a new park be great of United? Of course. Have you heard about the rats at RFK? But is it something that's good for the District of Columbia? Should soccer fans want something that's so unpopular with the people who will give up land and a building to get make it happen? D.C. United has some convincing to do.
As I said, be sure to click through to each to read their full takes on the issue, and use the comments to share any that I missed.
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