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Mayor Vince Gray signed a partnership deal today to build a soccer stadium for D.C. United at Buzzard Point, with the building expected to be finished in 2016. It’s good that the city and the team have time, because the deal faces several big questions before any ribbons can be cut.

Can the city really keep its expenses for land swaps and ground preparation to $150 million? Where will the nongovernmental tenants in 14th Street’s Reeves Center go when that building is traded for stadium land? How will the District fit 20,000 people in an area that’s currently served by two-lane roads?

Looming over all of that, though, is how the city is going to persuade Pepco and Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein to part with their own land in the stadium footprint. Since the District is nearing its statutory borrowing limit, Pepco and Ein will likely have to be satisfied with more land swaps. (One Wilson Building staffer snarked to LL about the “pawn shop” feel of the negotiations.)

Gray wouldn’t say what city property is on table, but Department of Governmental Services Director Brian Hanlon offered LL an idea. According to Hanlon, D.C. is considering trading the Metropolitan Police Department’s headquarters at 300 Indiana Ave. NW, assessed at a little less than $65 million this year, for stadium land. A Department of Parks and Recreation building two blocks south of the U Street corridor at 1325 S St. NW, assessed at $5 million, could also be part of a swap, Hanlon said.

Ein, at least, is loving his no-lose position at the center of the deal. When a reporter asked Gray what Ein could receive for his parcel, Ein had a grin large enough to fit a United soccer ball.

Ein declined to tell LL what city properties he has his eye on. “I’m very happy here,” he says, gesturing around Buzzard Point.

Who wouldn’t be?

Photo by Will Sommer