WASHINGTON — Opponents of a new congressional effort that would pave the way for a new Redskins stadium in D.C. are ready to mount a defensive stand against putting the new facility at the site of RFK Stadium.
“Helping a billionaire build a new NFL stadium, I just think is a bad idea,” said D.C. Council member Charles Allen, referring to Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Allen represents Ward 6, which includes the old stadium site.
Allen said Monday that he is not all that surprised by the recent Washington Post report that Snyder is working with congressional Republicans and the Trump administration to include language in the latest federal spending bill, that would help open the way for a new stadium in the District.
“Greasing the skids so that there’s going to be an NFL stadium at the RFK site, I just think is the wrong decision,” Allen said Monday in an interview with WTOP, noting he plans to fight it, if the effort moves forward.
While RFK Stadium is rich in history and includes some of the greatest moments for Redskins’ fans, Allen said residents who live near the stadium are ready to move on.
“Most people really disagree with the decision to put an NFL stadium at that site,” he said. “They certainly want to see investments by the city, they certainly want to see an improved area.”
Allen noted that rather than a stadium “plopped” in the neighborhood, many would prefer more affordable housing, as well as parks and public spaces.
Work began last summer on an ambitious plan to add green space and get rid of the sprawling parking lots around RFK, which are no longer needed.
Some on social media have picked up on Allen’s tweet against the congressional provision, which includes #HailNo — a play on “Hail To The Redskins.”
Trump & GOP helping Dan Snyder build a new stadium at RFK? Every dollar & square foot we put into a stadium, parking lots, & oceans of asphalt is one that we’re not putting into affordable housing or local businesses or parks and green spaces. #HailNo https://t.co/lCIAdFumpD
— Charles Allen (@charlesallen) December 7, 2018
Allen said that work on new multipurpose fields is moving forward toward a planned completion in 2019. He said he wasn’t sure if the provision under consideration in Congress could upset the timetable for that work, if it’s passed before a Dec. 21 spending deadline.
RFK is located on federal land, but the District has control of it under a lease with the National Park Service that expires in 20 years. The provision under consideration on Capitol Hill would reportedly extend that lease and remove language that currently would prevent commercial development.
Allen said he touched base with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, to keep an eye on plans for the RFK site. The area stretches across 190 acres near the Anacostia River.
The Redskins’ lease for the team’s current stadium, FedEx Field in Landover, expires in 2027 and officials in Maryland have shown an interest in keeping the team in the state.
The Washington Post reported that the office of Gov. Larry Hogan has acknowledged signing a memorandum of understanding with the Interior Department last year that would give the state control of federal land near MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County. That would allow the state to offer the site as a possible new location for the stadium.
Virginia has also shown interest in the Redskins, with Loudoun County often mentioned as a possible site.
Wherever a new stadium is built, Snyder has indicated he wants it to be smaller than the current stadium, which had a lot of empty seats when the Redskins lost to the Giants on Sunday.
A series of concept drawings of a 60,000-seat stadium were unveiled a couple of years ago. Snyder has indicated he’d like a new stadium to be more “intimate,” like RFK was when the Redskins fans were regularly shaking it back and forth, during their Super Bowl years in the 1980s and early 1990s.