It was mostly pomp and circumstance on Monday morning, as Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser hopped up into an excavator, and started to take down on the final standing structures on the lot that will eventually turn into D.C. United's new stadium.
But the moment still brought a sense that United's new stadium, so many years in the making, and a figment of many imaginations over the years, was that much closer to actually coming to fruition.
"We are one step closer today in launching the new home for United. We couldn't be more proud in our city of our soccer team," Bowser said, before she and Managing General Partner Jason Levien took their shot at the helpless abandoned building.
The project is still on course for the city to hand over the land to United in the late summer. From there, United will race the clock in hopes of being able to open the stadium up in time to start the 2018 season.
"It's moving along great. We've great partners in the District, we've got a committed fan base that's really been the engine for all of this," Levien exclusively told B&RU. "This is a huge day for us. We are going to move into the summer, move on to our own groundbreaking moving forward."
Levien also told B&RU that the final design hasn't quite been settled on yet. But as they get closer to beginning the construction on the site, the plans are closer to taking full shape. But the biggest player in the final stadium design continues to be PEPCO's easement, which runs through the stadium.
But that was the trade-off that Levien and United had to settle on to get a stadium in the D.C. city limits.
"[The easement] is very significant. The most important thing to us was the location. To have a site that is accessible to our fans, - fans in the District, in Virginia, in Maryland - having public access to it," said Levien. "One of the things you sacrifice when you do that is the site is not perfect. Because of the easement, because of some of the challenges on this site. We've worked around those, and we're going to have a world class building."
Meanwhile Ben Olsen, along with Bill Hamid, Patrick Nyarko, Nick DeLeon, and Lamar Neagle were among the fans to take in the event. For Olsen and Hamid, both who have been around the club for years, Olsen as a player and a manager, Hamid as a fan first, and then now as player, the demolition is helping turn a dream into a reality.
Olsen said he wished that he had been given an opportunity on the excavator, but was nonetheless pleased to see actually progress at Buzzard Point.
"This stadium is something I've been looking forward to for a long time, as a lot of people have been in this community. This is just another small step to turn this dream into a reality, said Olsen. "RFK is a wonderful building, but it's served its purpose for us. It's time to move on."
"When it's actually done, when we get that first game in there, and the fans are loud and active, that moment is going to bring a lot of joy to a lot of people's hearts," Hamid said.