Kim Lane, executive director of Pigtown Main Street, said the organization isn’t establishing a position about a proposed multi-use soccer stadium because there hasn’t been enough information shared about the project.

She questions the “public process” involved in identifying Carroll Park as one of two sites the Maryland Stadium Authority and D.C. United are considering in Baltimore to build a 7,500-seat stadium. The stadium would house D.C. United’s minor league team and other events, including college lacrosse, other professional soccer leagues and concerts.

“Just the lack of information leaves the neighborhood kind of powerless in the process,” Lane said.

As the proposed stadium study enters a second phase, which involves conceptual designs and budget and site analysis for Carroll Park and Swann Park, residents and group leaders want more information. Several feel left out of proposed plans and have concerns about how the stadium could affect the surrounding neighborhoods.

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“Too many times neighborhoods are brought in after the plans are done,” Lane said.

The next phase of the study is estimated to cost $450,000 and will be funded by D.C. United, the Maryland Department of Commerce, the Maryland Stadium Authority and the city.

In December, a study completed by Crossroads Consulting Services and the stadium design firm Populous listed Carroll Park as the best fit for the stadium. Initially, four Baltimore locations were listed as potential sites, but that list dwindled to two, Carroll Park and Swann Park.

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

The site evaluation factors included compatibility with adjacent land uses, parking and if sites could accommodate future expansion of the stadium to 10,000 seats. As for Carroll Park, which is also home to a nine-hole golf course, several advantages were listed in the study: the ability to accommodate future expansion, site size for a stadium and practice pitch, pedestrian access to parking from the stadium and more.

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But there were also challenges noted about building there: the need for off-site improvements, public parking availability and being somewhat isolated, which could hinder additional development, according to the study.

At Swann Park, the distance from development districts and its visibility and community presence were noted as strengths, according to the study. Challenges include availability of parking, conflicts with existing utilities and the need for off-site improvements.

Richard Ruiz, who runs a small child care service near Swann Park’s Al Kaline Field, thinks a soccer stadium is a “terrible idea.” He wonders why plans can’t be worked out elsewhere with Under Armour and its property to bring something similar to Baltimore. A soccer stadium at Swann Park would be “too much” and there seems to be a lot of “wishful thinking” surrounding the idea, he said. Ruiz added that he also heard of a similar idea for the area before that didn’t pan out.

In 2023, a study was called off after the Right to Dream soccer academy was no longer looking in Baltimore, specifically the Baltimore Peninsula, for a stadium, academy and United Soccer League franchise, according to The group pursued plans in San Diego.

Swann Park sits within the city’s approved master development area of the Baltimore Peninsula.

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Tifney and Tony Johnson, who also live near Swann Park, were surprised to hear the park was being studied for a potential stadium. They said traffic is already bad when kids have their football games. Tony said he has more than once had to get cars towed after his orange cones were moved, people double parked and blocked his driveway.

“This is definitely a safety hazard,” Tony said. “I can’t see it happening.”

Tifney Johnson likes that people are thinking about things to do and bring to Baltimore, but she has concerns about the traffic a stadium could bring. She wishes there was a pamphlet, meeting or some other communication to get a better idea of what’s being proposed and a chance to share their thoughts.

D.C. United told The Baltimore Banner that they’ve been working closely with Baltimore leaders and “explored multiple locations recommended by the city as well as the state for development.”

“As we enter the next phase and gain a better understanding on potential locations, we have started to open dialogue with several local communities to better understand how potential development could impact them and learn how D.C. United can be proponents for positive change in the city,” the soccer club said in a statement.

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Concerns are also stirring for people near Carroll Park. A virtual meeting was held with several Southwest Baltimore residents and leaders of organizations in mid-March with D.C. United, but some say they left with more questions than clarification.

Nia Reed-Jones, president of Friends of Carroll Park, was excited to hear about possible programming associated with the stadium but thought it didn’t outweigh the impact it could have on the community, including traffic and the economy. The golf course is less than three miles from Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.

“I thought I was going to get more information but left with the feeling that decisions had already been made,” Reed-Jones said, adding that the meeting was a good opportunity to start conversations, but it felt like an afterthought.

She isn’t against the group coming to Baltimore, but she doesn’t think the stadium is a good fit at Carroll Park.

Reed-Jones is also an avid cyclist who enters Gwynns Falls Trail at Carroll Park. She wonders if that access was thoroughly considered in the study and initial plans.

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Brittany Banks, president of Citizens of Pigtown, is also frustrated by the lack of community involvement in proposed plans, and she flagged the historical importance of the Carroll Park Golf Course. They are unsure of how it would be impacted by a stadium.

The city-owned golf course was purchased in 1923 for white golfers only, but it was challenged by a group of African American golfers. The pushback resulted in limited access to the course before the city desegregated it. Pitch & Putt Golf Club, an all-women golf club, was established at the course in 1938.

Jeff Dugan, director of Carroll Park Athletics, was surprised to find out Carroll Park was being considered for a stadium because of how much people use and care about the golf course. It seems strange and it’s hard for him to form an opinion without more information, he said.

“There’s nothing to talk about until they share some kind of plan or their intentions of what’s going to happen,” Dugan said.

The Maryland Stadium Authority anticipates the second phase to take at least a year to complete, according to Rachelina Bonacci, a public information officer for the authority.

Jasmine Vaughn-Hall is a neighborhood and community reporter at the Baltimore Banner, covering the people, challenges, and solutions within West Baltimore. Have a tip about something happening in your community? Taco recommendations? Call or text Jasmine at 443-608-8983.

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