Normally, I don’t cover news stories that are more than a week old, but I can’t resist covering this one. I found it several weeks ago and meant to write about it, but kept putting it off. I think that was partly because I got sidetracked by other news, and partly because I was ruminating on what exactly I wanted to say on the topic.
According to this Washington Times editorial, D.C. United has failed to show a profit in any of its 11 seasons at RFK Stadium. Photo credit: Getty Images.
The story is this: DC United appears to be looking to establish a “presence” in Loudoun. Although that in and of itself is not exactly breaking news (word first leaked out about a year ago), what is noteworthy is that discussions are still ongoing. Here’s a clip from The Loudoun Times-Mirror:
“…Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (I-at large) mentioned that he recently spoke with DC United President Kevin Payne. But about what, York told me that he was “not at the liberty to say.”I got the same response from DC United. “We can’t comment,” said team spokesman Doug Hicks, who did confirm that Payne and York spoke.
So, are professional soccer matches in Loudoun’s future? Well, maybe scrimmages.
One person with knowledge of the conversation between York and Payne, who asked to remain nameless, said DC United is looking to create “a presence” in Loudoun, perhaps in the form of a training facility, similar to Redskins Park in Ashburn.
Allowing area youth teams use of any future field(s) in Loudoun was also discussed, the source said.
But where is the team looking and what is its time frame? Sadly, I have no idea.”
As you can imagine, reactions from inside and outside DC are markedly different. Loudoun residents love the idea (and I’m sure Fairfax and Prince William County residents don’t exactly mind it, either); DC residents (and those who live nearby) are livid. The team, after all, is named DC United.
I completely understand why city residents are appalled at the idea of their team being relocated. That makes perfect sense. If the team were called “Loudoun United”, I wouldn’t want it moved to Arlington or Montgomery County. But I am bothered by the completely misinformed comments made about Loudoun. Although Baltimore has also been named as a possible new home for the team, there seems to be a special snarkiness (did I just make up that word?) reserved just for Loudoun County. I came across this DCist.com blog entry (entitled, “Say Hello to Loudoun County United”, even though it also mentions Baltimore) from last year, and here are some of the comments:
“It would be hard for me to imagine DC United moving to Loudoun. It would be a strange choice for a sports franchise that surely depends upon a large number of foreign-born supporters. Huntington or Hybla Valley I can imagine. Wheaton I can imagine. Even one of those vacant parcels along Route 1 near Woodbridge. But Loudoun? Something about that seems incongruous.”
“Your headline is misleading. There’s no talk about a Loudoun County stadium. It’s not only wrong, but not even humorous. No sane person would consider a DC United stadium in Loudoun County. Why are you trying to sensationalize this issue?”
My very favorite line from the comments above has to be the one implying that the team would be lacking foreign-born support if it moved out to Loudoun. Anyone who lives in Loudoun automatically knows why I find that comment really, really funny; but it is so off-the-mark that it also borders on offensive. It’s obvious the commenter did not mean to be offensive, but remarks like that are incredibly representative of the many misperceptions about Loudoun County.
This post is at high risk of turning into a rant, and I’ll save that for another day. So, let me just say this: If you are reading this and are ticked off that your team could be moved waaaay out to the ‘burbs, I don’t blame you. But if you are worried that the team might not survive if it’s relocated to Loudoun, I can put those fears to rest. In particular, Eastern Loudoun is a highly athletic community; there are so many sports teams that playing field availability and quality are huge issues. You can trust me when I say there will be no lack of support for the team – foreign-born or otherwise.
NOTE: If DC United does leave the city, they won’t be the first MLS team to do so. The L.A. Galaxy plays in the suburb of Carson, CA, and both Seattle and Portland are considering building soccer stadiums outside their borders.