D.C. United signs lease to stay at RFK Stadium through 2013

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Photo by Jose L. Argueta/ISIphotos.com

D.C. United is not going anywhere. At least not in the next two years, anyway.

The club agreed to a two-year lease extension with RFK Stadium operator Events D.C. over the weekend and announced the terms on Thursday. The new agreement ensures United of staying in the only home stadium they have known through the 2013 MLS season. With the foreseeable future sewn up, the club can turn its full attention to finding the answer to the new stadium question that has lingered for years.

"We now look forward to engaging in more detailed discussions with the District about a long-term stadium solution for D.C. United," club president and CEO Kevin Payne said in a team statement.

As part of the new deal, capacity for D.C. United home games is going to be limited to 19,647, with fans restricted to the mezzanine and lower bowl levels.

"The intention is to cover the upper deck seating area of the stadium for MLS games and we are presently discussing that opportunity with several prospective sponsors," Payne said. "It's a great branding opportunity, but it's more important that our supporters become accustomed to a 20,000 seat stadium, and we expect that limiting the capacity will encourage an increase in season ticket sales."

Outside of the deal, renovations at RFK will be done to improve the restrooms and the lighting on the concourses. To help raising the funds for those improvements, a service charge of $2.25 will be included on all ticket sales for events at RFK starting on Friday.

Events D.C. and the club are also looking to sell presenting sponsorship of the playing field at RFK as another way to increase the club's income.

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45 Responses to D.C. United signs lease to stay at RFK Stadium through 2013

  1. josh says:

    I know playing at RFK is a crap deal for United, but I grew up going to Skins games there in the 80’s and will have a soft spot for it. I live in CA, an haven’t seen a United game there, but I will be sad when it’s time is over. Nothing like feeling that place shake…

  2. Dillon says:

    It is truly the worst stadium I have ever watched a soccer game in.

  3. Har says:

    Its sort of unfortunate, since the best angles for actually seeing the game at RFK are the lower few rows of the upper deck.

  4. Black and Red 4ever says:

    Nice tifo display by the Screaming Eagles. I am sure DC soccer fans are a bit relieved that the first step towards keeping the team has been taken.

    Now comes the chance to fill up the lower bowl at RFK on a regular basis.

  5. elgringorico says:

    Don’t be an idiot

  6. elgringorico says:

    +1 LONG LIVE RFK!

  7. nam says:

    ….and having having a piece of concrete hit you on the head.

  8. Ed says:

    Where does this put away support?

  9. I guess what I don’t understand is why don’t they just renovate RFK? Who is going to use it if DC United leaves? If it is such a sore spot, why not just tear it down and build on the site?

  10. alka246 says:

    It’s easily one of the worst I’ve seen on TV. It’s a relic of the old MLS of the Cotton Bowl and whatever was in Kansas City and Colorado. If DC is playing on TV at home I switch it off.

  11. Hood Rich says:

    You are really an idiot. Have you ever sat on the second ring few rows from the railing? Those are probably the best seats in the house; feels like you are sitting right on top of the field. Fantastic view.

  12. Hood Rich says:

    Yep + 100!!! I didn’t see this post before the other idiot claimed it was the worst stadium.

  13. Kmccarthy27 says:

    I like the idea of tarping RFK’s upper deck. Plus I like the “rumor” that there was consideration into lopping that part off of the stadium and renovating the whole thing as a SSS.

  14. Mike says:

    I was wondering if someone in the DC area could help me out. Why don’t they just blow up RFK and build a nice 25K SSS on the site. It’s not as if the Skins or Nats still play there. So DC United plays a year at a temp home while they build it. I know land is expensive there and it’s tough to find them a home (I live in CA and trust me I know watching what the Earthquakes had to go through). The city donates the land and the owners pay for the building….seems to me like everyone wins. Trust me I know it’s not this simple but just wondering what the hold up is? RFK is about 50 years old isn’t it? Thus it doesn’t seem like such a great lost? The city wins because their team stays and they have a home for National and International games. It could be the East Coast Home Depot.

    Thanks

  15. KEEP says:

    Had a few beers with a DCU marketing friend about 3 months ago, he had told me that at some point this season they would tarp the entire upper bowl (the orange seats)when they finalized the lease agreement. I think it will help the gameday experience and the $ from the ads wont hurt. Even when its a packed lower bowl the glaring orange upper deck always sticks out in person and on television. To answer someones question about away fans, they will be seated to the left of the goal in the cheap seats.
    This quote was interesting
    Payne said. “It’s a great branding opportunity, but it’s more important that our supporters become accustomed to a 20,000 seat stadium I think most DCU fans would take a 20k SSS at this point.

  16. RK says:

    Quickly, money. It’s federal property.

  17. Eurosnob says:

    It’s good news for DCU and its fans, but the big question for me is whether the rent amount went down. The amount DCU paid under the old lease was significantly higher than what other MLS teams were paying for rented stadiums and was hampering the team’s finances.

  18. Duneman says:

    Van did well with a low cost temporary stadium and SJ seems to have shown you dont need 100mil to build a great small SSS. DC might never have the funds to build the best new SSS, but I would think they could do well to find a spot for a good multi use park that would make good sense for the DC (games, concerts, etc).

  19. Bellus Ludas says:

    RFK has many great memories for me…U2, Bruce Springsteen, Team America (anyone old enough to have seen Bruce Murray play with them?) and of course DC UTD.

    That said the grand lady has seen MUCH better days. Best case scenario would be to tear it down and rebuild with soccer specific stadium, training grounds, offices and youth fields.

  20. Somebody has to pick up the tab — its all about the cash.

  21. Eurosnob says:

    Parking lot 8.

  22. VADCUfan says:

    It reverts to the federal government and RFK will be torn down for another unrelated project.

  23. RK says:

    With the raccoons.

  24. CH says:

    Also there has been a rumor that Snyder wants to move the Redskins back to D.C. And that spot is prime location.

  25. KevDC says:

    Don’t know where you heard that but there is virtually no chance that it will happen. RFK’s days are numbered.

  26. KevDC says:

    Yeah, I saw U2, Bruce Springsteen, & Team America there…and the Skins (of course), the Rolling Stones, the Dead, HFStival, the Washington Diplomats (w/ Cryuff) and lots of USMNT games.

    I’ll miss the old gal — great memories — but it’s time. Past time, in fact. Build the stadium at Buzzard Point NOW! link to wapo.st

  27. The Imperative Voice says:

    FedEx opened in 1997. That’s practically yesterday in stadium terms. I don’t care if Snyder has buyer’s remorse about switching from RFK to FedEx, he can see out the lease and getting the taxpayers repaid for his last boondoggle before doubling down.

    As far as DCU is concerned, they are fairly well attended and it’s a lively soccer venue with historical value. But more importantly, aren’t DCU and the bowl game like about it for regular tenants? If the location is so good DCU should be staying put and basically the deal should be re-worked to reflect that DCU is their meal ticket and belongs there. That is cheaper than tearing it down to rebuild same spot, and smarter than risking losing the franchise altogether. Something is more $ than nothing.

  28. bryan says:

    moron. RFK is a blast! anything goes, it’s so much fun. i still want a new stadium though.

  29. bryan says:

    i was wondering that too. nothing better than seeing the handful of award supporters way up in the upper deck. it’s like a 20 minute walk to get beer.

  30. bryan says:

    they’re just waiting for the Skins to come back. they want to build them a stadium there…

  31. bryan says:

    they are holding out for the Skins. FedEx has been around for awhile and they want to bring them back into the city, as opposed to right outside of it.

    it’s really annoying because DC United can’t get RFK torn down because of this but they can’t get a SSS built in Maryland (right outside of the city) because the Redskins have yet to pay back the tax dollars used to fund FedEx.

    Dan Snyder ruins everything.

  32. bryan says:

    it’s yellow! orange is lower bowl.

  33. ODP says:

    why didn’t DC re-sign Jed Zayner?

  34. Modibo says:

    Saw a few DCU games there in ’98, and a US-Scotland game… then the Fire victory on Oct 15 last year (oh yeah, baby!). Can’t say as I have a lot of fond memories for RFK, but the location is good compared to the exurban locations that have been bandied about for the past few years…

    Course, there’s always Baltimore… waiting with open arms.

  35. KEEP says:

    good job

  36. KevDC says:

    Mention Baltimore again and I’ll put a hex on you and the Fire. ;-)

  37. fuschy says:

    There is no connection between the lease extension and DC keeping DC United. Of course, the team extended the lease. THey’ve got no alternatives. And, until another stadium gets built — be it Buzzards Point, or Baltimore, or even College Park, they’re gonna be in RFK.

  38. fischy says:

    They’ve already been moved downstairs, ore MLS orders. Sec, 318 I think,

  39. Rocko says:

    Correct, plus the agreement to build RFK stated only one stadium could be built on the site, so its either get the Federal Government to change a 50 year old agreement or find somewhere else. It’ll be Buzzard’s Point or Baltimore

  40. fischy says:

    Well, it is a bit more complicated than that, since there’s no indication the ‘Skins want to leave their sweet deal at FedEx — but it’s fair to say that the city has hopes and doesn’t want to preclude that by making RFK into a smaller stadium as a permanent home for United.

    On the other hand, there is still talk about getting something done for United on the RFK campus, so who knows what that means? The team would prefer Buzzards’ Point, because it will be in a neighborhood, with more t=development prospects. The city — and I’m just guessing here — would love it if United could build a stadium on the federal land, thus preserving the District’s leasehold, while they wait for the Redskins to come back in five or fifteen years (depending on amortization of the costs of building FedEx).

  41. fischy says:

    Actually, there’s no such rumor. City government would like to move the Redskins back. There’s only speculation that the Snyder feels the same way.

  42. fischy says:

    Bad knees, presumably. On the other hand, hte team is claiming to be out of cap space, so that might have played a part.

  43. Mr. Beast says:

    Move them to San Diego and rebrand them The Aztecs.

  44. DadRyan says:

    that’s absurd. the Barra, SE’s and District Ultras are the only supporters on prominent display every time a game kicks off. Many of the other clubs supporters out there only sing when the camera is on them.

  45. theraccoun says:

    Nice.