A bill from Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton would allow the District of Columbia to purchase the RFK Stadium site, but does not address whether a new Washington Redskins stadium could be built there.
Home to the Redskins from 1961-1996, the venerable RFK Stadium (above) is expected to be demolished in the coming years. The Redskins, meanwhile, are exploring new stadium options as they approach the 2027 expiration of their FedEx Field lease.
That has made the 190-acre RFK Stadium site the center of speculation as it relates to the team’s facility plans, but control over the land will be one of the major factors in determining whether building a new stadium there is a viable option. Currently, the District has control of the RFK Stadium site under a lease with the National Park Service that expires in 2038 and–with that date approaching–Norton is floating a new bill that would allow the District to buy the site outright.
Effectively, her legislation would enable the District to purchase the site for fair market value, to be determined by an appraiser chosen by DC and the federal government. However, Norton’s proposal does not seek to clarify future land use at federal level, leaving District officials to make that decision should a sale move forward. More from the Washington Post:
An eight-page draft of the legislation, known as the RFK Memorial Stadium Campus Conveyance Act, makes no reference to the Redskins or a new stadium.
“This bill isn’t about a stadium. It’s about clearing title on the land,” Norton said in an interview. “This is the largest piece of important land left in the District of Columbia that has not been put to good use. I have made it my business to get all such land used.”
Although Norton considers the team name a racial slur, she said she has no preference for how the District uses the land. Even if she did, she said, she wouldn’t discuss it, because “then members of Congress would feel free to jump in and offer their preference.”
The draft bill says the District should purchase the site for fair market value based on an appraisal performed by a professional selected by the federal government and the District.
In addition to control over the land, designated purposes for the site are one of the questions surrounding the viability of a new stadium there. The current lease between NPS and the District contains very specific language limiting the site to a stadium, or public and recreational uses–providing hurdles to any commercial development surrounding a new Redskins facility. Norton’s proposal would at least give the District long-term control over the site, but future land use could be a contentious debate even at the local level, as some D.C. officials have already expressed their opposition to using the site for a new stadium.
For proponents, however, RFK Stadium is likely to be considered the most viable site for a new Redskins facility because it offers easy access and room for surrounding development, something that very few sites in the District can claim. RFK Stadium’s demolition has also become increasingly inevitable, given its aging condition and that its last major sports tenant–MLS’s D.C. United–finished play there in the fall of 2017 and has since opened Audi Field in the District’s Buzzard Point neighborhood.
RELATED STORIES: Discussions Over Redskins Oxon Cove Stadium Plan Halt; Potential Redskins Stadium at RFK Site Draws Opposition;Options for New Redskins Stadium Emerge, but Challenges Remain; Lawmakers Raise Concerns Over Redskins Maryland Stadium Pitch; Potential Land Swap Could Facilitate New Redskins Stadium Project in Maryland; Redskins Stadium Provision Sparks Debate in Congress; New Arena Could be Model for Future Redskins Stadium Project; Back in the News: New Redskins Stadium at RFK Stadium Site; Virginia Bills to Block New Washington Redskins Stadium Subsidies Rejected; Virginia Bill Could Block Subsidies for New Washington Redskins Stadium; Washington Redskins Said to Want Downtown-Type Experience at New Stadium; McAuliffe Makes Case for New Redskins Stadium in Virginia; Possible Redskins Stadium Site in Loudoun County Drawing Interest; Washington Redskins Continue New Stadium Search; New Hope for Redskins Stadium at RFK Site?; Baker: Do Not Rule Out PG County for Redskins; Dulles a Consideration for Loudon County in Redskins Pursuit; McAuliffe Continues Stadium Pitch; Va. Gov: We Expect to Land New Redskins Stadium