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Poll: Most D.C. Residents Support Redskins Stadium at RFK Site, Without Public Funds

RFK Stadium

Most D.C. residents favor a new Washington Redskins stadium at the RFK Stadium site, but their support wanes with a public contribution in the form of construction costs or land, according to a Washington Post poll.

The Redskins currently play at suburban Landover, MD’s FedEx Field on a lease that runs until 2027, but the organization has already begun exploring its options for a new stadium. Among the possibilities that has been floated is a return to the site of RFK Stadium, the team’s home from 1961-1996. The facility is slated to be demolished by 2021, and the site would provide plenty of room for a new NFL stadium with ancillary development, but the prospects of that idea have been questionable.

A new poll from The Washington Post surveys D.C. residents feelings on the idea of a new stadium at the RFK site, questioning whether participants support the idea and, if so, if they favor a contribution from the district in form of land or funds toward construction costs. While 59 percent of respondents favored the idea of a new stadium, only 39 percent supported the District contributing land for the project and a mere 28 percent approve of D.C. providing funds for stadium construction. For some participants, it was a matter of believing that D.C. officials should be focused on addressing other priorities. More from The Washington Post:

The Redskins have been searching for a new home, and the prospect of the franchise returning to the District has been a hot-button issue for city officials and elected leaders. The November poll of D.C. residents finds that nearly 6 in 10 — 59 percent — support the Redskins building a new stadium two miles east of the U.S. Capitol, where RFK Stadium now stands, while 33 percent are opposed.

But when it comes to funding the construction, Washingtonians aren’t nearly as supportive — 39 percent of D.C. residents support the city government providing the team with land to build a stadium on, and even fewer, 28 percent, support using city funds to help finance a new stadium.

“I think there’s other issues that should be addressed — housing, hunger,” said Thomas Devaney, 62. “I realize how many jobs can be generated, and that’s the rationale to put public money into these institutions. But the windfall for the owners and for these sports organizations doesn’t outweigh the social concerns and needs that need to be addressed.”

One of the largest obstacles to a new stadium at the RFK site is control of the land. 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.

If the District were to get into discussions with the Redskins about building at the site, there would surely be plenty of debate about what role–if any–local government could play in financing stadium construction, and/or providing land to facilitate the project. It is hard to know for sure how those discussions would play out, but the poll results suggest that while there is some sentiment for seeing the franchise return to the District, it does not necessarily amount to full-scale support for local government to contribute toward construction costs or supply land.

The poll was conducted November 12-17, surveying a random sample of 905 adult residents of the District of Columbia. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four points.

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