DC’s RFK Stadium will be demolished by 2021

Aerial view of RFK Stadium is seen from a helicopter, Wednesday, Sept. 19,2007, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

D.C.’s plan to tear down RFK Stadium will happen by 2021, an Events DC spokesperson confirmed to WTOP Thursday.

As first reported by The Washington Post, officials said the demolition is “driven by a need to save money” and not to make plans for the Washington Redskins to build a new stadium at the site.

Events DC, the agency that manages the stadium, said in a statement that it costs $3 million a year to maintain the 58-year-old facility, which has “exceeded its useful life.”

Gregory A. Odell, president and CEO of Events DC, said that they are looking for a qualified contractor and that they will work with various city partners during the demolition process. Odell added that he is looking forward to sharing updates and soliciting community input.

Most recently, the stadium was the home of soccer team D.C. United until the team moved to Audi Field in the Buzzard Point area last year.

RFK Stadium is most famous for being the home of the Burgundy and Gold during its heyday in the ’80s and ’90s, when the team won the Super Bowl three times, in 1982, 1987 and 1991.

The team then moved to FedEx Field in Prince George’s County, Maryland, in 1996, but is looking to relocate home fields again.

Talks are ongoing with D.C., Maryland and Virginia on a new stadium that would replace FedEx Field when the lease expires in 2027. Sites near Dulles International Airport in Virginia, National Harbor in Maryland and RFK Stadium in D.C. are the leading candidates, The Associated Press reported.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has been reportedly trying to bring the NFL team back to D.C., specifically to the RFK site. “The best site in the region for the team is right there at the RFK campus,” Bowser’s chief of staff John Falcicchio said last February.

But opponents of a congressional effort in December that would pave the way for a new football stadium in D.C. think it is a bad idea.

D.C. Council member Charles Allen, who represents Ward 6 where RFK is located, said in December that most people who live in the area would prefer more affordable housing, as well as parks and public spaces, instead of an NFL stadium at the site. But for the property to be used for anything other than sports and recreation, the city would need to renegotiate its lease with the federal government that owns the land.

Falcicchio told The Washington Post that D.C. and the Redskins have not had any significant talks about bringing the team back to the city.

The demolition will likely smooth the way for the $500 million construction planned for the 190-acre site, which broke ground in August 2018. When completed, it will include playing fields, a market hall, a massive sports and recreation complex, and a memorial to the stadium’s namesake, Robert F. Kennedy.

WTOP’s Teddy Gelman contributed to this report. 

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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