26 July 2007

Stadium Political Fight: Fenty vs. Barry, Brown, and Gray

Did I see this coming? No. From WUSA Channel 9's Bruce Johnson's Blog:

Former four term DC Mayor Marion Barry is taking on the new popular (he won every precinct) Mayor Adrian Fenty in the fight to develop Poplar Point in Southeast. Barry backs new DC United owner Victor McFarland, the San Francisco developer who thought he had a deal with the previous Tony Williams administration...

Barry told me by phone today "He's (Fenty) going to lose this one because any developer he chooses will have to come before the DC Council for approval". The Ward Eight Councilman who represents the Poplar point area added that "McFarland held 30 to 40 community meetings on this and he (Fenty)didn't attend a single one".

At large DC Councilman Kwame Brown heads the powerful economic development committee and he is siding with Barry. Word is Chairman Vincent Gray is also lining up against Fenty.

Now, we've long been talking about the importance of doing the right things in Ward 8, and the fact that MacFarlane is getting some support from the local politicians helps matters. And they have been doing the legwork for a long time (see this post from 2005). I don't think a public fight is going to help the situation though. The stadium will have to go through a competitive bidding process. However, there's nothing to say that the recommendations of local representatives shouldn't be considered as part of that process.

ADDENDUM: Usually the problem in NIMBYism. This seems to be just the opposite. The local representatives want the deal, and the central government does not. What do you call that?

SECOND ADDENDUM: While I don't see much good coming out of a fight between the City Council and the Mayor's office, it is possible that this is just a shot across the bow. Now there may be behind-the-scenes meetings with Gray, Barry, Brown and Fenty. If nothing else, it will help define how bids for Poplar Point could be judged. And the terms of that debate are important. This also shows how important the work Kevin Payne and associated were doing two years ago was. You must be part of the community. The community needs to know it can trust you, and you need to sometimes trust the community. Heartwarming, in a strange way.

THIRD ADDENDUM: This is Kinney. I am just popping in to say that it looks like Brown might not be completely on board after all. Marion Barry and he "have some more talking to do."

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At 26 July, 2007 16:17, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wrote my councilman telling them to support DC United's proposal. I suggest others do the same.

Vamos United!

At 26 July, 2007 16:27, Anonymous Josh said...

Usually the problem in NIMBYism. This seems to be just the opposite. The local representatives want the deal, and the central government does not. What do you call that?

I reckon, "Not in your back yard."

At 26 July, 2007 17:52, Blogger Kinney said...

As United fans I think your point about this just being power politics is important to remember. This is better than a dead stadium deal, but a compromise that leaves DC United out in the cold is a decent possibility.

At 26 July, 2007 19:45, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wait a second...does this mean that I'm actually on the same side of an issue as Marion Barry? what's happening to the world?

does anyone know what the plans are for RFK after both teams move out? if they're just going to bulldoze it, why not build a SSS on that site? the parking lots and other infrastructure are already there. that would cut down on the millions that the city has to kick in for utilities, etc.

At 26 July, 2007 22:49, Blogger Kinney said...

Yes, RFK would be a nice site but there are problems. The RFK site is currently Federal land. Ideally, DC wants the land to be transferred so they can develop the site. It would be a much better deal for DC than having RFK in a sea of parking lots doing nothing to spur growth in that area.

In addition, there is some talk about Snyder bringing back the Skins to that site. If that is more than just rumor, I doubt they will be willing to put United up in a new stadium right next door. Plus the Skins are big enough that they might even be able to push through a Federal land transfer quickly if they work with the DC Government, or DC just might go gaga over a big sports team like it did with the Nationals.

If the Skins don't come back to DC then United would have to go through the same process that it is currently going through in Poplar Point. They would just lose millions in the interim. Not to mention, without United actually moving out there is no real impetus to change RFK until it falls down of its own accord. The site is definitely on United's radar, but there are better sites and plans out there. First and foremost right now is Poplar Point.

At 27 July, 2007 08:49, Anonymous Jeremy said...

If Marion Barry supports the deal, then I have to seriously rethink whether this is a good deal or not. Unless McFarlane is Barry's new pusher...

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