News & Politics

For Public Transportation, a Soccer Stadium in Loudoun County Makes More Sense

It would be Metro-accessible, eventually.

Rendering by Populous via DC United.

Washington’s soccer crazies are in fits of apoplexy over Washington Post reporter Jonathan O’Connell‘s screamer that DC United may abandon its deal with the District government for a new stadium on Southwest’s Buzzard Point for the distant pastures of Loudoun County. But there’s an argument to be made for a suburban stadium: It might actually be easier to get there than to one inside city limits.

O’Connell reports that the soccer club, which was recently honored by the statehood-advocacy group DC Vote for its committment to the District, has spent the past three weeks stepping out with Virginia officials including Governor Terry McAuliffe. Meanwhile, DC officials are still grappling to acquire the parcels of land that make up the city’s planned nine-acre stadium site. Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s administration still needs to get two acres from the development firm Akridge, which was to swap its plot for the Frank D. Reeves Center at 14th and U streets, Northwest under the original stadium plan signed by former Mayor Vince Gray. (The Post reports the city is likely to use eminent domain to get Akridge’s land.) Loudoun, on the other hand, claims to have land ready to go.

Loudoun is also competing on stadium costs. DC’s planned soccer stadium—the most expensive in Major League Soccer history—would cost taxpayers up to $150 million to develop the site and $43 million in future lost tax revenues, with the team fronting the costs for the actual structure. A Loudoun stadium could be $38 million cheaper, the Post reports.

But Loudoun County’s biggest advantage over DC in serving a soccer stadium is in accessibility via public transportation. One of Loudoun County’s proposed sites, according to the Post, is next to the future Loudoun Gateway Metro station on Old Ox Road. The Buzzard Point site is currently served by Metro’s 74 bus, and it’s about a three-quarter-mile walk from the Navy Yard Metrorail station. The DC stadium would, in theory, be served by a north-south streetcar line between Buzzard Point and Takoma or Silver Spring.

If the soccer stadium’s fate rests only on imaginary modes of transportation, Loudoun County’s site, 35 miles away from United’s current home at dilapidated Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, wins. The Silver Line, though delayed until 2020 (three years after Loudoun County officials reportedly say a stadium would open there), will get there eventually. Considering the troubled history of DC’s first streetcar line, United fans are as likely to ride unicorns to Buzzard Point as they are a trolley.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.