DC United home stadium named, residents overjoyed

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It’s been a project over a decade in the making, but DC United finally has a permanent home with a name.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) team DC United struck a long-term deal with their German automaker Audi for naming rights at their Buzzard Point venue, a 14-acre plot in Southwest D.C. — adjacent to Fort McNair and three blocks from Nationals Park. The location will be called Audi Field. The company feels so confident in the team, local futbol community, and future in DC that the deal is considered one of the largest in the league, totaling at least 12 years (when a general deal tends to run 10-20 years).

The DC Zoning Commission approved the $300 million stadium, on Friday. As part of the agreement, Audi Field will get $183 million in land acquisition costs and tax breaks from district taxpayers. 

The five-member panel granted conditional approval in December, but needed to wait for additional transportation and environmental details before casting a final vote.

Logistically, the stadium will seat 20,000 roaring fans (this includes the roofs over seating sections on the east and west sides), house 31 luxury suites, and even a bike valet. Retail and residential space will also make up the 500,000 total square feet of mixed-use facility DC United will call home. 

It appears Audi may have found good favor in the MidAtlantic region because their U.S. headquarters are located in Herndon (Northern Virginia). Audi is owned by Volkswagen. Volkswagen was DC United’s uniform sponsor from 2008-2015.

Mike Schoenbrun, DC United chief revenue officer, remarked on Audi’s excitement. He said, “They are really excited about being part of the transformation of the world’s sport in the nation’s capital.” 

Schoenbrun added DC United officials are equally excited about the partnership by saying, “Most important to us was a partner that believed in the sport. We wanted a brand that would make a splash and turn people’s heads.”

A groundbreaking is slated for February 27 at 3 p.m. where MLS Commissioner Don Garber, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Audi of America President Scott Keogh, United Managing Partner Jason Levien, DC United Head Coach Ben Olsen, along with DCU players and staff are expected to be in attendance. Local performances by DC Scores student-athletes will also be part of the ceremony. DC United is set to playing their first season at Audi Field in summer 2018.

Along with soccer, the field will stage concerts, community events, and other sporting and cultural events. 

DC resident Toby Wallace is excited about the new stadium. “We fans of DC United have often received numerous promises to have the stadium built,” he said, “and now I’m excited to be a part of the new legacy that comes with the new stadium.”

Audi also has the naming rights for the Bundesliga club FC Ingolstadt 04‘s home stadium in Ingolstadt, Germany, where Audi’s corporate headquarters is located.

DC United has lost millions of dollars over the years playing at run-down RFK Stadium. Most soccer sporting venues have a company that has naming rights, suites that businesses purchase, a municipal venue with adequate parking and concession revenue, but RFK has none of those.

For those who may attend, be reminded the groundbreaking will be at an active construction site, so parking will not be available onsite; but shuttle service will be provided. Check out DC United’s website to learn more.

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