DC DEVELOPMENT(S): AUDI FIELD

Whether you’re a soccer fan rooting for the home team or just an innocent bystander to the city’s work to step up their sports game, you’ve probably heard that there’s a new stadium coming to town. DC United, our very own pro soccer club, is long overdue to kick the ball around on their new turf, called Audi Field, a project which has been in the making for quite some time (read: longer than originally anticipated).

In February of 2017, as ceremonial dirt was shifted, ground was broken, and champagne was drunk (we can only assume), the building process started for Buzzard Point, the home to Audi Field, where United will boast a 20,000-seat stadium. The cheery smiles and shovels topped with dirt on that day don’t even begin to tell the whole story though. While the exact timeline is up for debate, it certainly has been a long road for United to score the field they wanted. It’s been more than 13 years since the first talks of a stadium at Poplar Point and more than five years since talk began about the Buzzard Point site. Not to mention, the groundbreaking last year, while a major symbolic victory, can’t be called a “job well done.” At the time of that groundbreaking, the estimate as to when fans could get cozy in their seats, grab a beer, and settle in for a match was 14 months. Here we are, about a year later, and the clock is still ticking as fans start to get antsy for the big reveal…

United has been working with Populous, Marshall Moya, and Turner Constriction Co. to bring the $150 million stadium to the fans. According to the stadium’s website, it will be complete with 31 available luxury seats and 2,000 all-inclusive premium seats. The food and beverage options are  also promising, curated by José Andrés and Levy. Andrés is a famous chef with ties to the DC area through restaurants like China Chilcano, Beefsteak, Minibar, Oyamel, and more. The chef is often accredited with starting the tapas movement stateside, and is likely to bring his a-game to play in this stadium project. Foodie fans, rejoice.

Another interesting aspect to the new stadium will be an “Audi Field Fanwalk,” which will be a path of inscribed bricks that lead up to the main entrance of the stadium, inspired by other sports venues around the world. A chance for true fans to have a piece of the team’s legacy, hidden in plain sight…for a price of course. An 8” by 8” brick, complete with the words of your choosing will cost about $200 to $250. All inscriptions will have to be approved by the team, so forget about that cheeky one you were scribbling down!

The over decade-long wait that’s left fans on the edge of their seats will (if all goes according to plan), come to an end when the team kicks off their first game come July 14th this summer…which puts them only slightly behind their original target of June 30th. From there, they will have fifteen regular season matches to enjoy on their new home turf in its debut season.

While United certainly has dibs on the field, they won’t be the only ones to be in the spotlight. A multitude of different events will take the field, including concerts, college soccer, college football, rugby, international soccer, Washington Spirit women’s games, and perhaps even an outdoor college basketball game or two.

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Audi Field will lack parking, meaning that most of the fan influx might come from the Metro (Navy Yard Station), with fans in cars finding a place to park near the Nationals baseball stadium.

RFK, where the United has played up until this point, will likely eventually be demolished as the city hones in on future development plans. While it’s still standing, though, it will seek to still be a venue for events that require large seating capacity, such as US Soccer events. As club President Tom Hunt put it in a statement provided o the Washington Post,

“It’s our farewell to RFK, not the District’s.”

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