- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Prince George’s County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to oppose a measure permitting negotiations for a soccer stadium in the county, likely halting efforts by D.C. United to work with the state of Maryland in building a new facility.

Council members voted 8-0 to send a letter to state officials voicing their opposition to legislation that would have allowed the Maryland Stadium Authority to discuss the feasibility of building a stadium and to work with other local agencies on a possible financing and construction plan. County officials said they were concerned that they were not sufficiently consulted.

Without the council’s support, the chances of a stadium bill being approved by the full General Assembly appear slim.

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the measure, but the full House did not take up the bill in time for a deadline that would have allowed the Senate to move forward. Even so, there appeared to be little support among members of the Senate or the entire House, and a council committee had previously rejected the proposal.

In pushing for the stadium in Prince George’s County, the team cited a study commissioned by the stadium authority that said the stadium could bring in millions of dollars in direct spending and economic impact. A financing proposal, which was not included in the bill to the state legislature, called for the $190 million stadium to be paid for by a series of state and county bonds paid back by taxes generated by the stadium and annual rent payments from the team. United had been eyeing a site near the Morgan Boulevard Metro Station.

The next steps for United are unclear, but the team suggested it may look elsewhere for a stadium site. The team, which plays at RFK Stadium in the District, sought the move to Prince George’s County after talks for a new stadium in the city broke down last year.

“We’re of course disappointed at the outcome of this vote,” team spokeman Doug Hicks said. “It’s certainly unusual for an elected body to decide it would rather not learn the facts of a proposed opportunity. We will continue conversations with other jurisdictions regarding a future home for D.C. United.”

• Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com.

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