Kevin Payne had prepared for that question, so he had quick answers as he talked about displacement, jobs and contracts, offering assurances that the $1.5 billion project in Southeast Washington would have something for everyone. There would be a hotel, job training center, community soccer fields and housing -- including a percentage for first-time home buyers and preference for local residents. Payne said the project would rival the entertainment district that has sprung up around MCI Center.
The proposed site is at Poplar Point in Anacostia, just across the river from where the Nationals' stadium is planned. The surrounding area is devoid of soccer fields and soccer programs. There also are few jobs for residents of nearby neighborhoods, including Anacostia and Congress Heights. Double-digit unemployment is the norm, and Vera Jamison wants the 8,000 construction and 2,500 permanent jobs projected for construction and operation of the project reserved for residents.
At Ballou, images of famous soccer players flashed across a screen in the auditorium, the marching band belted out tunes while decked out in D.C. United T-shirts and, later, hundreds stood in line for free, regulation-size soccer balls autographed by members of the team. Frieda Murray, 87, got two. "One for me and one for my grandson," said Murray, a retired schoolteacher and longtime member of the Anacostia Garden Club.
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