The future of DC United’s new stadium deal (and, some think, the future of the team itself in the DC area) is in doubt after lawmakers have questioned a bill covering the new stadium proposal for DC United in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In an email sent to supporters a few weeks ago, DC United President Kevin Payne urged support of the stadium proposal, and indicated that this was the only real possibility left to continue to have a soccer team in the DC area. What this has led supporters (myself included) to believe is that if the stadium deal falls through, the ownership would consider selling the team to a group that would bring DC United to a city (St. Louis being the most popular assumption) that would give a stadium deal to a team. That, combined with shaky attendance numbers at the first two DCU home games this season, has the future of MLS’ most successful franchise in limbo.
Thinking about this the other day, I started asking myself…what would I do if DCU moved to another city? Well, I consulted an article from Bill Simmons entitled “Rules for being a true fan” that lays out ground rules for which team you are supposed to support and when you can enter the free agency of teams. For me, Rule 19 really comes into play. The first thing that people that know me will probably ask is, “You lived in Dallas…you should be a Dallas Burn/FC Dallas fan, per Rule 18.” However, at the time I moved from Dallas, they had not yet started play. In fact, I believe the first game for the Dallas Burn was the weekend after I moved back to Michigan. So, when MLS started, I was technically in Michigan and thus a MLS fan free agent. I didn’t pick a team and just followed MLS in general until I moved to DC a couple years ago. In DC, DC United is my home team…I don’t really pay attention to the Wizards or Nationals or Capitals, and I hate the Redskins (per my days in Dallas). DCU is my home squad. The only team that would usurp them would be if Detroit (my real home) got a franchise (See Simmons Article, Rule 19).
So who would I choose? It would probably be FC Dallas since I used to live there and have a connection with the area. However, besides Detroit, a new franchise in Raleigh/Durham would open up the bidding war for my MLS fandom. The other teams in the league, for some reason, just don’t do it for me either because of my lack of connection to the city or region or that the city is a traditional rival of other teams I like.
But, above all, there’s nothing more I would want than for the new stadium deal to get approved and for DC United to prosper here in the Capital Beltway area for many years to come. I really don’t want them to leave, and I hope the Maryland legislature will make the stadium deal happen. Otherwise, the most successful franchise in American soccer history will be gone, and there will be quite a few MLS fan free agents out there without a team to call their own.