Wednesday, 16 Jan 2019
Sport

DC United fans will have to learn to share Audi Field with XFL and other events.


Audi Field opened last summer at Southwest D.C. (Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post).

It is naïve to think that stadiums, especially new ones, will serve only one team and one sport. Financial reality erases this fantasy. Even the sacred grounds of Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park have opened their doors to activities other than baseball.

During the lobbying, planning and construction phases of Audi Field, D.C. United officials repeatedly said that the 20,000-seat site was more than just MLS games. After spending up to $ 250 million of their own money and $ 150 million from the city, club investors were not going to limit the use of the stadium to 20-25 football games a year.

Even so, many supporters have recently been surprised to learn that the reincarnated XFL would inhabit the Southwest D.C. facility from 2020.

Football, played by much larger and more violent men than football players, weighs heavily on lawn surfaces – fields that must meet high standards to provide quality football, which is optimal in the field .

The time of year is inconvenient: the XFL should extend from February to May, the field could become vulnerable to the transition from winter to spring (think of the fluctuations of snow, ice, porridge and temperature).

The MLS season starts in early March.

As someone close to the team said, United officials are "extremely aware of the effects on the ground".

The details of the contract were not disclosed, but United reportedly included clauses obliging the XFL to pay for major field repairs and possible resurfacing work. In addition, United's matches are a priority and the teams will not organize matches in the same week.

Each XFL team will play a 10-game schedule, which means only five home dates plus playoffs possible.

Jason Levien, Co-President and General Manager of United, said he did not want to comment.

United, which opened Audi Field last summer, is one of three MLS teams that will share the same facilities with the XFL. The Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy are the others.

Seattle's CenturyLink Field, which already hosts the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL, has synthetic turf and will not be as badly affected as the Audi Field and StubHub Center, the Galaxy's turf field. (The StubHub Center also hosted the Los Angeles Chargers in the NFL last year.)

Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium is used by both MLS Dynamo and Texas Southern University football (five games in the fall). The New England Revolution shares the Gillette Stadium (Artificial Turf) with the NFL Patriots. New York City FC lives on the grass with the Yankees for long competing seasons.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium (lawn) is used by Atlanta United and the Falcons. Vancouver BC Place is home to the MLS Whitecaps and the CFL Lions. Toronto FC and the CFL Argonauts occupy BMO (turf).

United plans to hold every year 50 to 75 field events (sports and concerts) at the Audi Field and about 200 (corporate and family meetings in indoor spaces, for example).

So what else comes to Audi Field? The team, according to sources, plans to host rugby and lacrosse next year. Conversations were held with two lacrosse circuits: the Major League Lacrosse and the Premier Lacrosse League.

The organization wants to host the MLL Championship Game in September if it does not conflict with a United game. The MLS 2019 schedule is in the preliminary planning phase and should be finalized in a few weeks.

This year, MLL played in the final at a United Soccer League stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. Founded in 1999, MLL has nine teams, mainly on the East Coast.

A spokeswoman for the MLL said the league "was still considering several venues" for the 2019 final. "Audi is a fantastic place and space."

The other lacrosse league will debut in 2019 and, instead of playing traditional home games, will be racing 12 markets.

It's unclear what rugby events United is aiming for.

Meanwhile, Audi Field has already missed additional football opportunities. The Concacaf Gold Cup, a two-year tournament to be held again next summer, has selected mid-sized MLS stadiums in the Los Angeles, New York, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston and St. Paul-Minneapolis areas. but not in Washington. (Several NFL sites have also been selected.)

A major problem: Audi Field is equipped with three changing rooms instead of four, which is necessary for doubles. All the dates of the group stage and the round of the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup are double.

The US national team has also dropped Audi Field for a tour to the Women's World Cup next summer. The top ranked Americans will play at MLS stadiums in the Philadelphia, Denver, Los Angeles and New York areas. (They will also appear at the NFL stadiums in Tampa, Nashville and Santa Clara, California, as well as at St. Louis Baseball Park.)

Audi Field could end up hosting the women's team as part of a post-World Cup tour.

Read more:

The XFL announces its arrival in Washington and the commissioner of the league is "delighted"

United States Women's Soccer Team Will Have Difficult Schedule Before World Cup

Field Work of a Maryland Soccer Player: Preventing Goals and Rescuing Frogs

Josef Martinez, record scorer, is the most valuable player in the MLS

Fox Sports to Launch Corner Flag at MLS Cup

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