If comments from Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser are any indication, a future Redskins stadium at the RFK Stadium site could become a priority for D.C. officials.
There are separate developments concerning the futures of both FedEx Field–the Redskins’ current home–and RFK Stadium, where the team played from 1961-1996 (the image above shows RFK Stadium hosting a Redskins game). The Redskins’ lease for FedEx Field in suburban Prince Georges County, MD runs through the 2027 season, and there are signs that the team is already exploring its options for a replacement. Meanwhile, MLS’s D.C. United vacated RFK Stadium after the 2017 season and opened the new Audi Field this summer, leaving the venerable multipurpose facility without a full-time tenant.
RFK Stadium is still standing and used sparingly for events, but it is all but certain to be demolished in the coming years. During an event Wednesday, Bowser spoke favorably about the prospect of redeveloping the RFK site to lure the Redskins back into the city. For his part, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder acknowledged his affection for D.C., but stopped short of publicly favoring the RFK site for a new stadium. More from the Washington Post:
“Bring it home,” Bowser said from the dais of Washington’s Marriott Marquis, alluding to the Redskins’ home stadium, to a delighted audience that included Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who sat beside her throughout the team’s annual Welcome Home Luncheon, and four D.C. Council members, including former D.C. mayor Vincent C. Gray.
In an interview after her remarks, Bowser, who is running without serious competition for reelection in November, said that although she didn’t like the team’s name and for a period declined to use it, she was focused on reusing the land occupied by RFK Stadium now that D.C. United has departed for its own new stadium.
“We think all of our professional sports teams should be in our city limits,” Bowser said when asked why she believes the city would benefit from the Redskins’ return. “We think it’s important that in a world-class city, we have all of the major things — arts, culture, restaurants, theater and sports.”…
“[Washington] is a special place, and she’s right that it’s the only sports team that’s not in the city,” Snyder said. “It’s special to me. I have great memories there.”
It should be noted that there are several uncertainties at this point. Events DC manages the RFK Stadium site under a long-term lease from the National Park Service, so the city may have to work out an agreement to take control of the land it wants to pursue the Redskins. Additionally, it remains to be seen whether opposition to a stadium project would surface and at least delay if not outright stop discussions with the team.
As for the Redskins, they are believed to have multiple options on the table and plenty of time to make a decision. Maryland governor Larry Hogan is on record as wanting to keep the team within the state, while Virginia governor Ralph Northam has discussed land near Dulles International Airport in Loudoun County as a viable option for a new stadium.
Still, the Redskins created plenty of memories at RFK Stadium and the site offers a few advantages–including access, and perhaps room for surrounding development. The entire RFK site is set to be redeveloped, and officials recently broke ground on youth sports playing fields in the venue’s parking lot.
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