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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Audi Field – DC United

Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Audi Field

100 Potomac Avenue

Washington DC 20024

Year Opened: 2018

Capacity: 20,000

A Real Stadium For United

D.C. United is a charter member of Major League Soccer, joining the league for its inaugural 1996 season. For the first two-plus decades of their existence, the Black & Red played in cavernous, run-down RFK Stadium, which also served as a baseball and football stadium at various points in its existence. After many discussions of a new stadium, D.C. United finally got one in 2018, moving into Audi Field, a soccer-specific stadium located on Buzzard Point. This long-awaited home was intended to revitalize the atmosphere at D.C. United games, and for the most part, it has done so.

Food & Beverage 5

Audi Field has a wide range of concessions that should satisfy any fan’s palette, many of which are provided by celebrity chef Jose Andres. In addition to classic options such as burgers and pizza, fans can pick from more unique options such as pupusas and arepas. Given that soccer’s fanbase skews towards those of Latin American descent, it is nice to see concessions that reflect this diversity.

Prices can be quite high, with one meal costing $20-$25 between the meal and a soda or water, even more if you are planning to drink alcohol at the game.

Atmosphere 4

Other than the Supporters’ Section (more on that later), every seat in Audi Field is a chairback, and no matter where you watch the game from, you will have a great view of the action. There are two levels, although 200-level seats are only located on one sideline, above the suites. There is a large videoboard behind the Supporters’ Section, although fans on that side of the field will have to turn around to look at it as there is nothing on the other side except for a small board which shows the score, game clock, advertisements, and nothing else.

As for the Supporters’ Section, this is where a lot of the energy is. Due to popular demand, the club converted these sections behind the north goal from benches to safe standing a couple years ago. The Supporters (with a capital S) in this section are loud, raucous, and rowdy for the whole game, cheering, waving flags, and really contributing to the atmosphere.

The energy in the stadium is less than it was when it first opened and the place was routinely selling out, but is still palpable. That being said, when compared to other MLS stadiums built around the same time, the experience at Audi Field is much more basic, both in terms of the energy and the fan amenities.

Neighborhood 4

Audi Field is located in an up-and-coming part of D.C., near Buzzard Point. There is currently a lot of construction going on around the stadium, so expect it to improve even more in the future. For now, All About Burger is a popular local burger place located a few blocks of the stadium, and there are other options closer to Nationals Park.

Of course, you are in Washington, D.C., so there is plenty to do if you head towards the National Mall, and much of it is free. Just keep in mind if you want to tour the White House or Capitol, you will need to book that in advance.

Fans 4

With D.C. United finishing towards the bottom of the league table the last few years, they are not drawing the crowds they used to. Many of the fans have been following the club since its inception in1996, while others are newer to the team. That being said, the real fan energy comes from the Supporters Section. There are several Supporters Groups, including Barra Brava, District Ultras, 202 Unique, La Banda del Distrito, Rose Room Collective, and Screaming Eagles. These fans are located in Sections 135-137 and can be expected to stand, cheer, chant, wave flags, bang drums, and more for the entire game. The Supporters bring raucous energy for the full 90 minutes, although they no longer fill the section like they once did. For many games, they will make a tifo (large, handmade banner) that they unveil pregame to support the team or various team-related causes.

Other fans can get involved too, of course. D.C. United fans, in general, are knowledgeable about the game and the team, and while they’re not afraid to get on the refs’ case when a close call doesn’t go their way. All fans will celebrate D.C. United goals (except for traveling supporters of the visiting team, of course) but none get into it like the Supporters Section.

Access 3

When going to Audi Field, your best bet is to use public transit or a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft. If taking Metro, take the Green Line to Navy Yard-Ballpark and walk about ten minutes to the stadium. Keep in mind, however, that there is often trackwork on Metro, particularly on weekends and during the summer, resulting in single tracking and/or the closing of stations entirely. Be sure to check in advance. If driving in, you can park at one of the stations in suburban Maryland and take Metro from there so you do not have to contend with D.C. traffic. Crowds will be large on the train after the game, although if you park at the Branch Avenue station in Southern Maryland, you will be taking the Green Line in the opposite direction from most fans so it will be far less packed once you board.

If you do arrive at the stadium by (whether one driven by you or an Uber/Lyft driver) there is a lot of construction surrounding the stadium right now so it may be hard to figure out how to get right there, although an Uber/Lyft driver should be able to get you close.

Parking is very limited and can be purchased in advance through SpotHero, but the cheapest spots will cost about $25 and can be located a 15-minute walk from the stadium. To get closer will cost you twice to four times that. There is still no dedicated team-run parking lot, in contrast to the spacious lots at RFK.

Return on Investment 2

Tickets are sold with dynamic pricing, so the exact price will depend on the day you go and the opponent, but in general, they range from somewhat affordable to ridiculously expensive depending on where you sit. The cheapest seats are behind the goals and can cost about $30-$50 depending on the game. Keep in mind many of the “seats” behind the north goal are actually safe standing in the Supporters Section. These are clearly marked when buying through the team, but if you buy these, prepare to stand for the entire game (there aren’t even any seats to sit in) and possibly have your view obstructed by flags at times. However, if this is not for you, there are plenty of seats available behind the south goal for roughly the same price.

Sideline seats will start at about $60-$80 depending on the game, and go up to about twice that. Premium seats such as suites will cost you even more but may come with food and beverage.

These prices are slightly more expensive than most MLS ticket prices, and with D.C. United being a middling team in a stadium far less advanced than others built around the same time, there is little to justify this. Getting to the stadium will be extremely pricey if you do not want to deal with Metro delays, and concessions are expensive as well. While good value can be had if you are willing to go on a weeknight, for the most part a trip to DC United game is quite the pricey endeavor.

Extras 3

One bonus star for the murals throughout the stadium honoring DC United history as well as the history of other soccer teams that have played in Washington throughout the years.

The Heineken Rooftop Bar behind the north goal provides a unique vantage point to watch a game.

A third star for the many unique concession options here.

Final Thoughts

D.C. United fans had been waiting a long time for a true soccer stadium by the time Audi Field opened in 2018. While Audi Field is a vast improvement over RFK Stadium, it has sadly left off many of the developments seen at successful MLS stadiums built around the same time. The team has remedied some of these, such as by honoring the history of soccer in the nation's capital, but Audi Field remains below the standard we have seen at other venues in the league recently.

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