Although the District has seemingly deemphasized its pursuit of the Washington Redskins, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser indicated last week that she has not abandoned the idea of a new NFL facility at the RFK Stadium site.
Home to the Redskins from 1961-1996, RFK Stadium has been rendered obsolete in recent years, particularly since MLS’s D.C. United–its last major sports tenant–played its final match there in 2017. In a move that addresses its long-term future, D.C. officials announced last month that RFK Stadium will be demolished by 2021. That prompted some questions about whether the upcoming demolition was part of a plan to lure the team back to the site with a new stadium, but D.C. officials emphasized that was not the case and instead pointed to the high financial costs of leaving the stadium standing.
When speaking at a conference on Friday, Bowser was asked a question about the issue. She indicated in response that she has not abandoned the idea of bringing the franchise back within the District and would like to see a new stadium at the site, but also noted that the RFK property presents plenty of potential for redevelopment with or without a new NFL venue. More from the Washington Business Journal:
That changed Friday during a conference convened by the D.C. Chamber of Commerce at the University of the District of Columbia when Bowser repeated her belief that “all of our teams should be playing within our boundaries.”
The mayor initially sidestepped a question on the matter from The Washington Post’s Robert McCartney, who was moderating a panel discussion at the event, by referencing one of the city’s other, more successful teams: “How ‘bout those Mystics?” she quipped, drawing lengthy applause.
But she did go on to specify that she wants to see a new stadium on the RFK site someday, even if she did deliver a playful jab at Snyder’s 0-4 squad in the process.
“We’re not going to chase them down and we’d like them to be winners when they come,” Bowser said. “We don’t feel like we’re in the position to beg for this type of development. We have a great site, we think the best site in the region. And when the time is right, we’re going to make sure the site is activated.”
The Redskins have played at FedEx Field in suburban Landover, MD since 1997, and are currently exploring options for a new stadium as the 2027 expiration of their lease approaches.
Although the RFK Stadium site presents plenty of potential for redevelopment, and there is strong sentiment in some corners for seeing the team return there, any proposal for a new stadium would face plenty of political hurdles. Events D.C. manages the RFK Stadium site under a lease with the National Park Service that expires in 2038. Longer control at the local level, whether it is through a purchase or lease extension, is seen as vital to any discussion of building a new stadium at the site. Land use has also been a subject of debate, as 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 NFL facility. Additionally, some members of the city council have come out against the idea of building a new NFL stadium at the site, contending that uses such as housing and recreation space are more vital needs.
Those are all hurdles that would have to be overcome if a plan to build a new Redskins stadium at the RFK site surfaces, but for now it appears that the property cannot be completely dismissed when it comes to the team’s stadium search.
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