The future of RFK Memorial Stadium has long been in limbo, but the city entity that runs the sports facility and its surrounding campus is beginning to look for answers.
Events D.C., the city’s convention and sports authority, is seeking a consultant to study several options for the 52-year-old stadium, its 80-acre campus and the nonmilitary portions of the D.C. Armory, according to a request for expressions of interest posted on the group’s website. Submissions are due Jan. 3.
The contracting request, first reported in The Washington Post, is divided into two phases. The first would study options for the site, including one scenario in which the stadium is demolished within the next decade and another that would continue programming the site with the stadium as is “for the near future.” The second phase would focus on design and development, although Events D.C. could opt to use a separate contractor for that work.
“We are approaching this in essentially a fairly agnostic way,” said Erik Moses, senior vice president for sports and entertainment at Events D.C. “There are various proposals floating around out there from various stakeholders, so we’re not going into this presupposing what the result will be.”
The RFK campus would likely be a major part of D.C.’s bid to host the Olympics in 2024, which the nonprofit DC2024 rolled out in August. There have also been attempts in recent years to lure the Washington Redskins back to the District from Prince George’s County, and Councilman and mayoral candidate Vincent Orange, D-At Large, recently asked the city to study building a 100,000-seat “superdome” there.
The stadium’s main tenant, D.C. United, hopes to move into a soccer stadium to be built at Buzzard Point. RFK also is used for concerts and other events, including, until this year, the Military Bowl. This year that game will move to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
The organization has also ramped up its efforts to host endurance events at the campus in recent years and hopes to have 5K and 10K race courses certified with the USA Track & Field organization by the end of next year.
The solicitation also requires the consultant to examine long- and short-term uses of the nonmilitary portion of the D.C. Armory, which features a 65,000-square-foot ground floor drill room and two lower level spaces totaling 54,000 square feet. Study options should include limited renovations in the short term and “a comprehensive renovation to transform the venue into a unique, regional destination for events seating between 5,000 and 10,000 patrons.”
The stadium has operated at a loss since the Redskins departed in 1997. For fiscal 2013 ended Sept. 30, it pulled in “between $4 and $5 million,” Moses said, adding that year-end figures aren’t yet finalized. Operating expenses are expected to be more than $5 million.
But demolishing the facility would come with its own costs, which could affect Events D.C.’s ability to fund other programming.
“Our job is to keep the stadium and the campus busy all the time,” Moses said. “Ideally you don’t want to have to turn the spigot off completely while you plan for the future. If we’re used to using that $4 million in revenue, you don’t want that to go to zero.”