- D.C. United broke ground Monday, with city officials in attendance, on the new $300 million, 19,400-seat soccer stadium, according to the Washington Business Journal.
- Construction on Audi Field, just three blocks from Nationals Park, will take approximately 14 months and is scheduled for completion in time for the 2018 Major League Soccer season, WJLA reported.
- The team received unanimous final design approval for the stadium last month after a protracted — and sometimes contentious — review process before the city's zoning commission.
The city and D.C. United will split the cost of the stadium, with the District paying for its share with a $150 million package of land, site work and infrastructure improvements. The team is paying for the rest of the project costs, and both sides have agreed to share any potential overruns up to $20 million.
The team announced the $4 million-a-year naming rights deal with Audi just a day before the zoning commission gave its final approval. The commission's green light took longer than expected after officials expressed reservations about the venue's aesthetics, with one commissioner comparing it to a prison.
Local business owners also took shots at the stadium plan, claiming that it did not provide an adequate gateway for the adjacent business district. The team placated critics with a redesign and the inclusion of additional street-level retail intended to draw fans and others to the area around the stadium. Neighbors also have voiced their concerns that the noise and construction dust would negatively impact the area, with a particular apprehension around how it would impact children and elderly residents.
Nevertheless, the project is expected to generate more than 1,000 construction and permanent jobs, as well as create $1 billion of economic benefit for the area. Turner Construction was selected as general contractor of the project in July 2016.
The D.C. United venue is part of a push on the part of existing and potential MLS owners to build bigger and better soccer stadiums across the country. Most recently, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert has proposed a $1 billion soccer stadium complex for what is now the site of a partially completed downtown Detroit jail. Gilbert has offered to build Wayne County a more comprehensive jail complex and cover any additional costs beyond what it originally budgeted for the current jail plan. Officials are still considering that proposal.