(The Center Square) – Five as-yet unspecified locations in the Baltimore area will be part of a forthcoming study examining the feasibility of a new soccer stadium.

On Wednesday, the three-member Board of Public Works approved the Maryland Stadium Authority’s request to approve a $25,000 allocation for preparing a market, economic, and site analysis for the potential venue.

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DC Soccer LLC, which does business as DC United, also is involved in the effort.

Gary McGuigan, executive vice president of the stadium authority’s capital projects development group, said DC United wants to bring a Division 3 MLS Next Pro Club team to the Baltimore metropolitan area.

“The study will analyze up to five sites, hopefully utilizing existing assets,” McGuigan said. “The ownership is up in the air. The operator would be DC United.”

The Board of Public Works, comprised of three top-level state officials, voted unanimously in favor of the proposal and study, though different viewpoints were shared at the meeting.

“I know there’s been a lot of discussion about bringing a team to Baltimore and the stadium,” Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said. “It’s good to see that this is moving. Thank you very much. Good job.”

Rutherford said he also believed the findings gleaned from the study would bring fruitful results.

“Location matters,” he said. “Modern sports arenas do build around them.”

State Comptroller Peter Franchot also gave a ringing endorsement of the plans in motion.

“This is a great project. Baltimore is an absolute gem and has soccer appreciation,” Franchot said. “I think this has a lot of economic potentials.”

While he did not cast an official vote in objection, state Treasurer Dereck Davis questioned whether the study was necessary. Davis said he believed allocating time and money toward a study would be wasteful.

“They’re all going to say this: We’re going to have thousands of construction jobs being made and X-number of permanent jobs,” Davis said. “They all say the same thing and rarely live up to what they say. If we want to build a stadium, we should build a stadium.”

But Franchot offered a different take on the benefit of conducting a study.

“Fundamentally, (studies) are a healthy exercise,” he said. “The devil’s in the details. Anything we do should be carefully looked at.”

The board’s approval of the study comes months after the proposal surfaced.

In April, the state Department of Commerce requested the stadium authority prepare the study for the potential multi-use venue.

In May, officials within the stadium authority subsequently agreed to undertake the study and fund up to $25,000 of the costs. The agency provided official written notice of the planned study to the General Assembly in June.


David Fidlin

The Center Square contributor

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