It took 1303 days, but D.C. United finally has the approval for their new stadium. The D.C. Zoning Commission voted unanimously on Thursday night, paving way for United to begin construction on their stadium at Buzzard Point. The club hopes to begin play at the new venue - which will officially be known as Audi Field - sometime around June of 2018.
The team still has to get a building permit for the stadium, which was not attainable until they had the approval from the Zoning Commission. But that process won’t take much time, and the team will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, February 27th at 3:00pm. D.C. United has confirmed that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, United coach Ben Olsen, numerous players, and Audi America president Scott Keogh will be in attendance.
The team had two meetings before the Zoning Commission at the end of last year. There was opposition to the plan from Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D, as well as local residents, who voiced concerns about how the stadium would impact the surrounding area. However, the Zoning Commission voted for conditional approval of the stadium plan in December, and the National Capital Planning Commission gave the plan their stamp of approval earlier this month.
The original plan for the stadium at Buzzard Point was announced to the public on July 25th, 2013. That plan had the city obtaining the necessary land from Akridge by swapping a government building at the intersection of U Street and 14th Street, Northwest. By the end of 2013, that plan was scrapped, with the city deciding not to give up the Franklin D Reeves Municipal Center, instead choosing to to purchase outright the land from Akridge.
When the city and Akridge couldn’t come to an agreeable price, the city used eminent domain to acquire the land from Akridge in September 2015. During the same month, United had to submit their design for the stadium. The stadium concept had several iterations, before the team settled on a 20,000 person building for the site, which was constricted by an easement from power company PEPCO.
Yesterday, the team announced that Audi would be the sponsor of the stadium, with the name Audi Field apparently pulling in $4 million annually for the team.