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City Administrator Allen Y. Lew responds to the flawed Washington Post stadium poll results

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The District's chief negotiator in the stadium talks with D.C. United speaks out.

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Cavan Wilk

The Washington Post published a letter this morning from Allen Y. Lew, D.C.'s City Administrator and the man leading the District's end of negotiations with D.C. United and other stakeholders in the ongoing stadium negotiations, responding to the Post's story in Monday's paper about public opposition to city money going to finance the stadium. As has been covered here and elsewhere, the question used in the poll didn't convey any information about the details of the deal. I've transcribed Lew's letter below.

The Jan. 27 Metro article "Few are fans of plan for stadium" was based on responses to a poll that asked: "Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose using city funds to help finance a new soccer stadium for the District's Major League Soccer team, D.C. United?" That misleading question left out critical information.

It is not true that the District is planning to "help finance a new soccer stadium." More to the point, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) does not support public financing for construction of the stadium, and neither do I; D.C. United will build and pay for the stadium. What the District will do is assemble the required land. The district will own this land and will lease it to D.C. United. The term sheet calls for a nominal payment of $1 a year; however, that is subject to ongoing negotiation. At the end of 35 years, the district will get the land back.

From an economic perspective, the District will pay fair market value for the land - that is to say, what it is worth today and absent a new soccer stadium. As the Southwest waterfront continues to revive and grow, the District will receive the benefits as the land appreciates in value. More important, however, the District will realize other benefits as a new neighborhood grows - attracting residents and economic activity to grow the District's economy. I am confident that if the question had included this important information, the poll would have shown much more support for our plan.

Hat tip to reader beardyblue for sending the letter along.

UPDATE: The letter published by the Post was excerpted from a longer op-ed that Lew wrote and sent them, the full text of which has now been posted online.

Obviously, we'll have more on the stadium effort as it develops.