Capitol Riverfront Continues its Growth

A New Soccer Stadium Will be Built in the Neighborhood

Nationals Stadium is an economic focal point for the Capitol Riverfront area.

Growing BID, Growing Neighborhood

Mayor Gray recently hosted a press conference at Buzzard Point to announce a deal to build a new stadium for professional soccer club DC United.  I was at the press conference and was excited to hear the Mayor lay out his vision for a new soccer stadium that will not only keep DC United playing in the District, but bring another quality major league sports facility to our neighborhood.  I commend Mayor Gray, City Administrator Lew, and the DC United ownership for their vision, leadership and willingness to partner with Buzzard Point property owners to make the soccer stadium a reality.

There are many future negotiations and partnerships needed to make the project happen, and that it will not be an easy road.  Nevertheless, I did want to speak to some of the benefits that our neighborhood can expect to realize as a result of the new soccer stadium, and also reflect on the benefits we have experienced from the Nationals baseball stadium that is also located in the Capitol Riverfront.  It is not often that one neighborhood has the opportunity to be home to two major league stadiums, and there will be opportunities to create synergies between both and expand the range of sports and entertainment activities that both can host.

While there will certainly be an economic benefit from increased development and activity associated with the stadium, it is important to look beyond dollars and cents and understand the impact these sports facilities have and can “leverage” in terms of brand, identity, activity, land use changes, and perceptions of the neighborhood.

Nationals Park

Nationals Park opened in April of 2008, the result of an amazing feat of design/build construction – it took only 22 months for the stadium to be built from site demolition to Opening Day.  Since then, it has attracted millions of baseball fans over almost six full seasons of play.  In an unfortunate coincidence, the opening coincided with the worst recession our country has experienced since the Great Depression and as a result, several of the development projects planned to accompany it were put on hold and have yet to be realized.

While the stadium outpaced private development projects, it had many positive impacts on the Capitol Riverfront:

  • Nationals Park has branded or “mentally mapped” our Capitol Riverfront neighborhood in a region of over 6 million people.  No marketing and PR campaign could have achieved similar positive results.
  • The stadium’s millions of annual visitors (over 40% of whom arrive by metro) have experienced first-hand what we have known all along: the Capitol Riverfront is clean, safe, and convenient to get to.
  • The stadium serves as mental and physical focal point for the more than 12.5 million square feet of development in the area, and anchors the Capitol Riverfront as a rapidly developing, mixed-use entertainment district on the Anacostia River. The millions who attend the one of the National’s  81 home games, not to mention the numerous concerts and special events hosted at the Park, have created an undeniable spillover effect for local businesses, as visitors flock to restaurants and cafes in Capitol Hill, Barracks Row and Capitol Riverfront.  

DC United Soccer Stadium

The new DC United soccer stadium will be a smaller sports facility – 22,000+ seats to Nats Park’s approximately 42,000 seats – but I am as excited about the collateral benefits that can accompany the development of this stadium:

  • The stadium begins to define a land use pattern and activities for a section of our BID, Buzzard Point, that has struggled to attract an appropriate mix of synergistic uses.
  • Together with National’s Park, the stadium will create a sports and entertainment hub in the Capitol Riverfront.  This soccer stadium can be used by a variety of sports such as professional, college and high school soccer games; college and high school football games; high school and lacrosse games; as well as concerts and outdoor movies.  Mayor Gray mentioned many of these possible uses at the press conference and I support his multi-use approach to this stadium.  The popular Kastles tennis team and stadium could also be an adjacent sports use.
  • The new stadium can create brand and identity for an area of the city that has long been considered an industrial backyard.  The collateral uses associated with the stadium can reintroduce “The Point” as a mixed-use entertainment district with access to the riverfront.
  • The stadium and its activities can also leverage new streetcar access to this section of the neighborhood, thereby providing good transit access for future sports fans and also unlocking the office and residential potential of “The Point”.
  • Finally, the location of both stadiums in the Capitol Riverfront in the SE/SW quadrants creates a new gateway to our city at the South Capitol Street Bridge – a bridge that will be replaced with a new Frederick Douglass Bridge over the next three years.  The stadium complexes, the ongoing development in Capitol Riverfront, the many public spaces and parks in the area are beginning to define a very grand waterfront in our city south of the SE/SW Freeway. 

For all of these reasons I remain excited about the benefits that the proposed new DC United Soccer stadium can bring to the Capitol Riverfront and our city at large.  We will be monitoring the progress on the real estate decisions and the timing of construction, as well as working with the DC Office of Planning to make sure that we all get the land use mixes right.  As we often say in the Capitol Riverfront, this is a once in a generation opportunity to create a new city within a city on the Anacostia River. 

BID Staffing

I’m excited to welcome three new team members to the BID – Jay Corbalis, Dan Melman and Tammy Shoham. Together with our existing staff, these new additions mark the beginning of an exciting new era for the BID, one that reflects the growth and vitality of the neighborhood we represent.

With that, I am pleased to reintroduce the entire team at the BID, who, together with me and our board of directors, will implement our shared vision for a successful, vibrant Capitol Riverfront:

  • Michael Stevens – President
  • Bonnie Wright – Operations Manager/Special Projects Coordinator
  • Dan Melman – Vice President of Parks & Public Realm
  • Leon Johnson – Director of Park Operations & Public Realm
  • Lacy Wilhoit – Manager of Park Programming & Marketing
  • Tammy Shoham – Vice President of Economic Development & Research
  • Jay Corbalis – Manager of Planning & Communications

They can be contacted at, or stop by Yards Park or our BID office and meet them in person.

Restaurant Updates

Nando’s Peri-Peri Peruvian Chicken is now open at the Boilermaker Shops for lunch and dinner.  We have also heard that the Bluejacket Microbrewery & Restaurant, as well as Buzz Bakery are looking to a mid-to-late September opening.  Osteria Morini and Aqua 301 are still aiming for a mid-to-late October opening in the Lumbershed Building.  Forest City Washington has also announced two new tenants for the Boilermaker Shops – the GNC Vitamin store and the Spanish sandwich shop 100 Montaditos. 

Michael Stevens, AICP is the Executive Director of the Capitol Riverfront BID.