After a 105 minute delay, the Committee of the Whole meeting started, with the D.C. United stadium deal upon agenda. After a long amount of discussion, the Committee of the Whole unanimously passed the bill to the full legislative council, which will hear it later this afternoon.
The final pre-meeting amendment, after the removal of the sales tax abatement and the removal of the Reeves Center from the deal, was to add a community benefits package to the deal. The community benefits seem to include a circulator route to Buzzard Point, which would seem to appease Tommy Wells. It also included language to change a number of dates on the deal to conform to the reality of timeline that has actually happened, and requires the mayor to resubmit some deals to change some language. It also puts a cap on the District's costs at $150 million, which was not included in Mayor Gray's original bill, and allows for eminent domain.
Jim Graham opened the Council comment by commending Phil Mendelson and Muriel Boswer for their leadership on the deal. Jack Evans then talked about his support for D.C. United and their stadium, and explained that the Reeves Center swap could be eliminated because the elimination of funding for the streetcar allowed them to move money to this project.
In a good sign for the prospects of purchasing the land, Vincent Orange, Jack Evans, and Jim Graham all went out of their way to commend Akridge for their work in the process. Mollifying Akridge will go a long way towards reaching an amicable and quick deal to purchase their land on the soccer stadium site. Muriel Bowser also went to say that she does not want to use eminent domain and that she believes the District's offer is a fair one.
There were some concerns voiced about the deal as well. Kenyan McDuffie voiced his concerns over the financing of the deal and the share of the costs between the District and the team. David Grosso, on the other hand, asked Chairman Mendelson why the council was keeping in the $2 per ticket surcharge when they've already taken out the sales tax abatement. Evans and Mary Cheh both spoke out against using money from the baseball fund for part of the land acquisition, and Mendelson responded that they were looking for alternate ways to fund the land. David Catania voiced concerns about whether or not the owners could immediately sell the team after this investment by the city, and whether or not the financial cap was actually a cap.
The deal will be immediately voted upon again at the full legislative meeting taking place directly after the Committee of the Whole. Should it pass at the meeting, it will be put on the agenda for the December 16 meeting for final passage. However, given the layout of the votes today, it seems unlikely that any changes will happen in any of these following meetings. Vincent Gray could throw a wrench in all of these plans: he is apparently very angry about some of the changes to the bill, and could declare the funding plan illegal. As of this writing, no one knows what that would mean to the deal, but there will obviously be more on that as we find out more.