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Gray Says Soccer Stadium Deal Is Moving Forward

Soccer fans might be in store for a holiday surprise from the District government.

A series of land swaps and cash deals required to make D.C. United’s world-class, 20,000-seat stadium a reality should be on its way to the D.C. Council in the next few days, Mayor Vincent Gray indicated on Wednesday.

“We expect by the end of the week to be able to have a legislative package [and] to have it go forward through the council to move on this,” Gray said, in reference to the $300 million project targeted for the Buzzard Point area of Southwest.

Some snags still hang over the proposal, including working out a deal on Super Salvage, a salvage yard located on part of the site that has processed scrap metal in the city for decades. The land deal agreement will likely cover 85 percent of the targeted area, and does not include the salvage yard, according to Tony Robinson, an official in the Office of the City Administrator.

“The two things that are most critical to the transaction at this point are in fact the Akridge land swap agreement,” Robinson said, referring to a development firm that owns much of the plot “and the final business terms with D.C. United.”

Under the provisions laid out this summer, the city planned to swap District-owned parcels of land for the area adjacent to the Fort McNair Army Base and set up the infrastructure, at a cost of $150 million. The soccer team would cover the $150 million cost of construction.

The parties are still in talks with utility provider Pepco, and agreements with that company won’t be done in time to be included in the upcoming deal, Robinson said.

When D.C. United owners and Gray announced the plans in July, they anticipated that the four-time Major League Soccer champion team would be playing in the new stadium by the 2016 season. Gray repeated his promise that the project would be on time in September, while signing a project labor contract for the stadium’s construction, but councilmembers had begun to doubt they would see the necessary legislation before the end of the year.

The mayor’s campaign for re-election may have helped to motivate progress.

Asked for a timeline on a council vote, he said, “hopefully before April 1,” the date of the multicandidate Democratic primary election that helps determine the fate of the race.

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