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Future of RFK Stadium to be debated

RFK Stadium

The future of RFK Stadium, the former home of the Washington Redskins (NFL) most recently used as an MLB and MLS facility, will be decided after a community meeting with Capitol Hill residents.

RFK Stadium opened in 1961 as the home of the Redskins and the American League’s Washington Senators, replacing the aging Griffith Stadium on the local sporting scene. Renamed RFK Stadium in 1969, the original District of Columbia Stadium (D.C. Stadium) was the first of the cookie-cutter stadiums (followed by multiuse facilities in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and St. Louis, among others) and it was perhaps the only cookie-cutter stadiums that worked, with pretty decent sightlines for both baseball and football/soccer. The best years of Redskins football took place at RFK Stadium, with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, John Riggins and the Hogs providing plenty of memories for NFL fans.

When MLS’s D.C. United moves to a new stadium — a Buzzard Point facility in the planning stages — the facility will lack a full-time tenant for the first time. D.C. United has played there since 1996, the Redskins played there from 1961 through 1997, and the Washington Nationals played there from 2005 to 2007. The future of RFK Stadium sans a major tenant is pretty bleak: the community is already foreseeing the desirable land site being used for something else. Events DC, which manages RFK Stadium, will hold a community meeting with sports-facility consultant Brailsford & Dunlavey to map out the future of the stadium area, which also includes D.C. Armory. A complicating factor: the site is owned by the National Park Service, so the site must be maintained as a public space. Otherwise, given the prime Capitol Hill location and easy freeway access, we’d see developers all over the site  From Hill Now:

However, Kirschner also stressed that the event is not only an informative meeting for community members, but also a chance for community members to voice their wishes directly to the company in charge of future plans for the site.

“We’ve always had an ongoing conversation with the neighbors and we definitely have an open-door policy with them,” he said. “We’re more than willing to take their suggestions because they’re the ones that are actually in this area.”

In the past, neighborhood groups have voiced support for putting sports fields at the property or using some of the parking lot space to set up a weekend market. Pete Kirschner, a spokesperson for Events DC, says that they hope to find a balance between these smaller projects and larger, more long-term plans for the site.

Nothing is imminent: the new D.C. United stadium is not a done deal, and given that we’re talking about a District of Columbia facility located on land owned by the National Park Service, the wheels of government will surely run slowly. And for those who want to see a new Redskins stadium on the RFK Stadium site: That doesn’t seem to be on the agenda — for the moment.

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August Publications