After all the kermit-celebration-dot-gifs and it's-happening-dot-gifs and hamid-roar-for-no-reason-dot-gifs, now we D.C. United fans get to bask in the warm light of a stadium that doesn't yet exist - but will. And what better way to bask than by polling the B&RU staff (and you readers, of course) about what we all want to see in the new building once it opens in 2017 (or maybe 2018, but let's not talk about that)?
So, without further ado, let's get to it.
Well the easy first one for me is technology. Stadium Wi-fi is a no-brainer, but Sporting Kansas City has a mobile app that provides real-time stats and instant replay from multiple camera angles in-stadium in case you miss something (or are unsure about a foul). As a guy who did some press box stuff this year, having consistent internet signal would be neat.
Second, if you're going to be a stadium inside the city, be a stadium inside the city. The concessions should have Three Stars as well as D.C. Brau (assuming the two can coexist), the food should have Ben's and any other locally-sourced stuff you can find. Get local artists to contribute work in and around the stadium walls, even some of the merch.
Third, pyro, pyro, pyro. Due respect to the Fire Chief, but use of smoke at soccer games in D.C. shouldn't be a problem, nor would I expect it to be in a new home. Any and all of this would provide improved results for the fan as well as the supporter.
Given the word on the back collar of DC United jerseys, we should honor our tradition by teaching the young and the newly arrived fans the names from our storied past. This means naming stadium sections, gates, or parking lots after our top players over the years. Marco Etcheverry Gate. Jaime Moreno Mezzanine. Andy Najar Lot. Jeff Agoos VIP Lounge. And so on. I know how this likely works out. It'll be the State Farm Jaime Moreno Mezzanine, or the Bank of America Jeff Agoos VIP Lounge, if it's anything. But still.
1. Bouncing stands. Just do it. Don't ask questions on whether the people want it. We do. Just put them in there.
2. Capo stands. Nice ones that don't feel like they're going to collapse under you every time you get on it. It would be cool to jump up and down knowing that the stand will still be under you when you land.
3. Pulley system. I know the supporters groups would take tifo to new heights if they had access to this.
4. Great concessions. That means food and beer options. DC has some fantastic food and beer. Get them in the stadium: Ben's Chili Bowl, DC Brau, Bluejacket, 3 Stars, Five Guys or another burger joint. And, of course, multiple pupusa/carne asada stands.
5. TVs in restrooms and concourse. Small item but for those casual fans that can't wait until halftime, it will help them continue to watch the game.
6. Hire DC Washington full time. Just do it. The ears of 20,000+ people will thank you every matchday for the sweet sounds of Mr. Washington signing the national anthem.
My mantra when it comes to soccer is "focus," and as such I want a stadium where the only thing one can reasonably occupy themselves with is watching the game that you paid to watch. A stadium should not resemble an amusement park or a high-end nightclub. No sightlines to the monuments, no extraneous announcements, no video board nonsense (replays of on-field action excepted). You come to the stadium to watch soccer. Do the other stuff before or after.
Beyond that, I'd really like to see United hire the same people responsible for the Maryland Soccerplex fields, which have won multiple awards (including this year) for being the best fields in this country. This won't benefit me in any tangible way, but I want to be able to have one extra thing to lord over the other fans in MLS, and I'd also like to be associated in some minor way with good fields rather than the clumpy, sandy, poorly-graded fields of my youth.
Finally, some sort of DC flag pattern in the seats would be nice. I know stadium designers shy away from white seats, but there's got to be a work-around for this. Plenty of teams have their name "written" in the stands, but I think we can be unique by letting everyone know who we are without spelling it out in letters.
The new stadium should be all about D.C. United, to include its history. For this reason, I want to see the stadium include a museum or gallery extolling the history of D.C. United and its greatest players, telling the stories behind each and every one of its 13 major trophies, and honoring its fans. At Buzzard Point, it will be time to replace the high school-style trophy cases currently on the upper floors of RFK stadium (as charming as they are), which contain all the team's silverware, with a purpose-built space befitting four MLS Cups (with room for more!) and the most successful club in MLS history.
But, even while the new stadium will be a shrine to and for the Black-and-Red, I also want it to reflect that D.C. United is a part of something bigger--namely, Major League Soccer. I want up-to-date Eastern Conference and Supporters' Shield standings visible in the stadium. I want scores from in-progress MLS games visible during United games. I want highlights from those other games shown on the video board before United's games and during halftime. And, when D.C. United is playing a US Open Cup or CONCACAF Champions League match at Buzzard Point, I want to know we are a part of those competitions as well, with scores, standings, and highlights visible at the right time. Putting United's games into context, no matter what competition they are playing in, will only add to the drama and aura which the new stadium will produce in spades.
All of the other suggestions here are wonderful and make sense. One of the main things I want to see in the new stadium is slight modifications to take the TV viewing audience into account. Obviously the atmosphere for the fans in the stadium should take first, second, and third place, but this stadium is going to challenge all of the top tier MLS stadiums for games of the US national teams, international friendlies, and other marquee games. Making sure that the stadium doesn't have giant shadows making TV viewing a pain should be something that the architects can figure out and integrate in a way that doesn't effect the rest of the stadium.
Bouncing stands is a big one for me, but I also want to see the supporters sections stay along the side of the field. To me, at least, that's a better place to take in a game than behind a goal--and it looks better on TV, too. Don't move us, stadium gods!
I'd also like to see the Hall of Tradition (which...is a wall) reimagined. There's opportunity to really highlight some of the Black-and-Red's best. Obviously that could fit nicely into a museum or gallery about D.C United's history, but I think there's potential to do more with the in-stadium banner idea.
And one last thing I want in the new stadium? Another MLS Cup.
(I may or may not have also expressed a desire on Twitter recently to get a dedicated #BennyWatch cam in the stadium because a GIRL CAN DREAM but this might be pushing it.)
As for me? I have a grab bag of things I'd like to see in the new stadium. I want the stands to be as steep a grade as the architects can reasonably manage, and I want to be able to see the field from the concourse (a la Nats Park). I'd like whatever stand the supporters occupy to be officially named for the late Javier "Chico" Solares, and the other stands to be named for United greats like Jaime Moreno and Marco Etcheverry. Whether it's in the hotel the team is reportedly looking to build on-site or it's inside the stadium or something else, there should a good, big, family-friendly bar to pregame in, and I think it should be called Lot 8.
Where I'd spend the owners' money, though, is on player amenities. We've heard from players like Aurelien Collin what advantage Sporting Kansas City gets in recruiting players from their state-of-the-art training and recovery facilities at Sporting Park. I want that here in the District. Make getting dressed in the home locker room on Buzzard Point something that other teams' players are envious of, not just because the team is great and the tradition unmatched and the crowd's passion on another level - but also for the creature comforts. It will help with recruitment, and it will help with keeping players healthy and ready to go.
Now, readers, it's your turn. Let us know in the comments what you want to see included at the new stadium, however major or minor and however normal of off-the-wall. Have at it.