Carroll Park Golf Course and Swann Park Selected for Phase 2 of Soccer Stadium Study

| March 6, 2024 | 0 Comments

Yesterday, the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) announced it would manage a phase 2 study for a D.C. United Major League Soccer (MLS) Next Pro “multi-use soccer stadium” in Baltimore. Phase 1 studied a total of four sites and South Baltimore’s Carroll Park Golf Course and Swann Park were chosen for additional study in phase 2.

The $450,000 study looks at preliminary design through site analysis, conceptual design, budget analysis, and due diligence. The funding comes from:

  • DC United: $225,000
  • Maryland Department of Commerce: $100,000
  • City of Baltimore: $100,000
  • MSA: $25,000

MSA’s phase 1 study was conducted by Crossroads Consulting and Populous. It examined Carroll Park Golf Course, Reedbird Park in Cherry Hill, Swann Park, and UMBC in Catonsville for a a 7,500-seat stadium that could be expanded to a capacity of 10,000. The study ranked Carroll Park Golf Course as the top option for a soccer stadium with 156 points. Reedbird Park was the second best site with 149 points and Swann Park was the third best with 129 points. UMBC ranked fourth with 124 points.

MSA Public Information Office Rachelina Bonacci explained the selection for phase 2 to SouthBMore.com:

Carroll Park was selected because it was the top-ranked option. The next option, Reedbird Park, showed quite similar ratings across most metrics while the third option, Swann Park, presented a contrast with very different strengths and weaknesses. After discussion with stakeholders and DC United, there was agreement that Carroll Park and Swann Park would present two different, distinct choices and that it made sense to study those two options further.

MSA anticipates the study will take approximately 12 months.

MLS Next Pro is the third tier of professional soccer in the United States. D.C. United, which would operate the stadium, is also interested in hosting additional professional soccer games, lacrosse games, rugby games, entertainment, and community events at the stadium.

In addition to being used by D.C. United’s MLS Next Pro club, D.C. United is also looking for a stadium to bring its newly-formed USL Super League women’s team to Baltimore. The USL Super League looks to compete with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) as the top level of women’s professional soccer in the United States.

Carroll Park

The 67-acre Carroll Park Golf Course is currently a nine-hole golf course that has been open since 1923. It is adjacent to the Montgomery Park business park, Carroll Park, and the neighborhoods of Pigtown, Morrell Park, Carroll-Park Industrial Area, Mill Hill, Carrollton Ridge, and Wilhelm Park. It is adjacent to I-95.

Al Tyler, vice president of the Capital Projects Development Group at the MSA, told SouthBMore.com that Mayor Brandon Scott knows the historical significance of the Carroll Park Golf Course and has expressed a willingness to be part of the conversation if the site is chosen for a soccer stadium.

Significant strengths and challenges from the phase 1 study:

Significant Strengths

  • Site Size and Configuration (Stadium & Practice Pitch) Ability to Accommodate Future Expansion
  • Property Ownership/Assembly
  • Pedestrian Access to Parking From Stadium
  • Ability to Provide VIP Parking On-Site (1/8 Mile or Closer) Ability to Provide Required Parking On-Site
  • Scheduling Conflicts/Competition for Parking

Significant Challenges

  • Need For Off-Site Improvements
  • Availability of Public Parking
  • Proximity to Existing Development Districts/Civic Amenities/Places of Value
  • Potential Development Catalyst
    Visibility/Civic Image/Community Presence

Site rendering from the MSA, Crossroads Consulting, and Populous

Swann Park

The 11-acre Swann Park, located in Baltimore Peninsula, sits adjacent to the South Baltimore neighborhood on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. It is currently an active park with athletic facilities including Al Kaline Field for baseball, a soccer and football field, and two softball fields.

Swann Park was closed in 2007 after it was found to be contaminated with arsenic. It later reopened in 2010 after remediation and a renovation was completed.

Swann Park’s future has been in limbo due to the Baltimore Peninsula development master plan. Early renderings showed the park being replaced with new blocks and the athletic fields being relocated to an expanded West Covington Park. But, MaryAnne Gilmartin of MAG Partners, one of the partners in the Baltimore Peninsula development team, told SouthBMore.com in June that the future of the park has not yet been determined.

“What I like about the master plan is that it is inherently flexible,” said Gilmartin. “It’s nice when you can move ideas around. Swann Park could ultimately be a park forever. It could also be used for waterfront entertainment venues.”

Gilmartin said they have “a couple of working ideas” for the land and, if those ideas come to fruition, the fields could be relocated by South Point.

Tyler told SouthBMore.com that when analyzing Swann Park, the Baltimore Peninsula development team was “part of the conversation on how the whole thing would fit together.”

A future Middle Branch Trail Bridge is planned to connect Swann Park to Westport. Westport has a Light Rail station that is a half a mile from Swann Park.

Significant strengths and challenges from the phase 1 study:

Significant Strengths

  • Proximity to Existing Development Districts
  • Potential Catalyst for Surrounding Development
  • Visibility/Civic Image/Community Presence
  • Compatibility With Adjacent Land Uses

Significant Challenges

  • Conflicts With Existing Utilities
  • Need for Off-Site Improvements
  • Environmental Remediation/Flood Plain
  • Pedestrian Access to Parking
  • Availability of Public Parking
  • Ability to Accommodate VIP Parking
  • On-Site Access to Alternative Transportation/Public Transit

Site rendering from the MSA, Crossroads Consulting, and Populous

D.C. United’s effort to bring a professional outdoor team to Baltimore is the latest of many efforts over the last 14 years. Crystal Palace Baltimore, which was affiliated with English Premier League club Crystal Palace, ascended to USL Second Division and proposed a new stadium in Pigtown/Carroll-Camden Industrial Area in 2009, but the club dissolved in 2010.

D.C. United’s top level MLS club looked at Baltimore as a location for a new stadium in 2009, but the team’s new ownership, which took over in 2012, returned the focus to Washington, D.C. and opened Audi Field in 2017. Victor MacFarlane, who is now a development partner in the Baltimore Peninsula development, was a co-owner of D.C. United from 2007 to 2009.

The USL Championship, the second tier of professional soccer in the United States, has been eying Baltimore in recent years. Last year Egyptian billionaire Mohammed Mansour of The Mansour Group was pursuing Baltimore Peninsula for a USL Championship club and his Right to Dream soccer academy. MSA was going to conduct a study for this proposal, but it was cancelled as Mansour moved his focus to San Diego where he was awarded, in partnership with with Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, an MLS expansion franchise.

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About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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