Baltimore soccer stadium feasibility study is approved

January 19, 2010|By Kevin VanValkenburg | kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com

The Maryland Stadium Authority voted Tuesday to approve a $100,000 feasibility study to examine the financial viability of building a soccer stadium that could be used to lure a Major League Soccer franchise.

The study, after a lengthy negotiation between the city and the Maryland Stadium Authority, will be paid for entirely by the city of Baltimore. In September 2009, Mayor Sheila Dixon wrote a letter to the Maryland Stadium Authority asking that it consider a 42-acre waterfront Westport project as a potential site for a soccer complex that could hold between 17,000 and 20,000 people and be used to lure D.C. United into making Baltimore its permanent home.

Dixon became intrigued by the idea after M&T Bank Stadium hosted a sold-out exhibition match in July 2009 between A.C. Milan and Chelsea. A similar feasibility study done by the Maryland Stadium Authority in Prince George's County determined a soccer stadium would have between $65 million and $80 million in economic impact on the area, but the Prince George County Council unanimously voted down a proposal because of concerns over the cost, estimated to be close to $195 million.

Stadium Authority also voted to approve a $350,000 project to improve the dugout and tunnel drainage in Oriole Park. In August of 2009, during a game between the Orioles and Cleveland Indians, a lengthy rain delay resulted in nearly a foot of water pooling in the Orioles' and Indians' dugouts. Umpires considered suspending the game until workers were eventually able to unclog the circular drains.

An earlier version of this article contained an error. D.C. United will not reimburse the city for the feasibility study.

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