Four Baltimore-area locations have been shortlisted for the development of a proposed multi-use soccer stadium, according to a study released Wednesday that analyzed the market for the Maryland Stadium Authority and D.C. United.

As D.C. United looks to create an MLS NEXT Pro league club to serve as a developmental pipeline to the top-division team, Baltimore is its desired location for a 7,500-seat stadium.

The Carroll Park Golf Course in Southwest Baltimore was deemed the best fit, narrowly edging Reedbird Park in the Cherry Hill neighborhood, after the consultant graded locations based on access to public transit, parking availability, site size for a stadium and practice pitch, and the environmental remediation required, among other considerations.

The study, which was completed by Crossroads Consulting Services and the stadium design firm Populous, also considered Swann Park near the Port Covington neighborhood and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, campus.

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The proposed stadium would serve as the home of United’s minor league team, but it would host a variety of other events, including professional and college lacrosse, other professional soccer leagues and concerts. Although it likely would start at a capacity of 7,500, the structure could be expandable to 10,000 seats, the study said.

The venue would be owned by a public entity and operated by D.C. United (or an affiliated entity), and would likely host at least 73 events per year, according to the study.

MLS NEXT Pro launched in 2022 in the U.S. and Canada and sits on the third tier of the U.S. soccer pyramid. It has 27 clubs, all of which are affiliated with MLS teams. The league will expand to include Carolina Core FC in 2024 and a Cleveland-based team in 2025.

The study didn’t rule out the addition of a women’s team at the stadium. The National Women’s Soccer League, which already has the Washington Spirit at Audi Field in D.C., is targeting expansion by 2026. There’s also the USL Super League, a women’s professional league set to begin play in 2024; Washington has been chosen as one of the inaugural markets for that league.

A map of the four sites shortlisted for a potential soccer stadium. (Crossroads Consulting Services, LLC)

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The locations

The major benefits of Carroll Park Golf Course — a nine-hole executive course operated by the nonprofit Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. — include the size of the site for a stadium and practice pitch, the room to accommodate future expansion, pedestrian access points and the close access to I-95, the study said.

However, there’s a lack of public parking nearby, and the light rail line is more than a mile away. Plus, the study noted, the stadium location runs the risk of becoming isolated from additional development.

Reedbird Park also graded highly due to the size of the site, the ability to build on-site parking and its existing city ownership. The land is undeveloped except for a recycling center on the northern edge of the property, the study said.

Still, challenges include a lack of nearby amenities and a near-total absence of public parking within half a mile. Because the site is bordered by the Patapsco River on the east, traffic would be forced to leave the area through neighborhoods to the west.

Swann Park, a city-owned sports field about three-quarters of a mile south of M&T Bank Stadium, benefits mainly from its potential to drive additional development. The site sits alongside Interstate 95 and is close to a flurry of projects at Baltimore Peninsula.

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The downsides to Swann Park, though, rest in the lack of parking and access to public transportation. There’s also less room for the stadium, leaving a choice between building a practice pitch or on-site parking lots. The Patapsco River, situated on the western edge of the parcel, could present problems with flooding.

At the UMBC campus, there are ample parking and access to major road thoroughfares at the site for the potential stadium. The size of the site, though, is a difficult obstacle to overcome, and it’s the farthest from downtown Baltimore. There would be a lack of visibility and community presence, the study noted, and it received the lowest score of the four options presented.

Next steps

As planning continues, the stadium authority will decide alongside D.C. United whether to move forward with the development of the proposed stadium.

Once that occurs, the authority will select which site it thinks best promotes community development and has the necessary infrastructure.

A building program, cost estimate and development schedule for the site would come next, as well as a funding plan to cover the building costs — likely involving both public and private money.