And Now, Anacostia rebuts Marc Fisher’s criticism of a soccer stadium at Poplar Point. ANA and my commenters make several points, including that the money would be for infrastructure like roads rather than for the stadium itself (unlike with the ballpark), or that Fisher simply prefers baseball to soccer. Ryan Avent, though, is still skeptical.
One of the most interesting issues to me is the question of open space. ANA writes, “Poplar Point is not parkland. It is vacant land, with a few buildings on it currently used by the National Park Service.” Clark’s plan for Poplar Point contains a park called “The Preserve” (as maintaining some parkland was a requirement for all bids).
Many debates over development include arguments between keeping a larger amount of less usable open space versus creating discrete parks within a developed area. In Takoma Park, opponents are decrying the loss of “open space” that’s mainly WMATA parking lots and a few tree-covered berms, while the development plan would create a “village green” that’s smaller, but more actually usable. Likewise, anti-development forces in Brookland are centering their complaints around open space, which others call a “trash-strewn chain-link blight.”
The design for Poplar Point seems to do the best with what it has. Making the stadium stimulate activity in the neighborhood depends upon generating foot traffic to and from games rather than simply a lot of car trips to parking next to the stadium. The deck over the 295 freeway is a key piece, connecting the new neighborhood with the old one and the Metro station. The stadium is near the deck and from the drawing, I don’t see any surface parking lots.
If the deck doesn’t get cut for cost reasons and the stadium can in fact draw more events beyond the 33 professional soccer games a year, this will be good for the area. If the project morphs into something like NYC’s Atlantic Yards, where one building after another gets “postponed” and acres of “temporary” surface parking will last for ten years or more, then we’ll prove Fisher right. I hope not.