WASHINGTON — Could the Washington Redskins be lured from FedEx Field in Landover to a state-of-the-art, 100,000 seat stadium in the District — on the site of RFK Stadium?
The D.C. Council is being asked to study whether it makes sense for the city to acquire RFK Stadium, Stadium Armory and Langston Golf Course and then develop the site.
Under the proposal, put forward by six of the 13 council members, the three aging facilities would be replaced with a domed stadium, a multi-media sound stage for film industry use and an 18-hole championship golf course.
But that’s not all. It would include hotels and an indoor water park.
In a public hearing, the D.C. Council Committee on Economic Development listened to the pros and cons of launching a feasibility study of the ambitious plan.
“I believe RFK Stadium and the surrounding land could be turned into a successful financial venture for the District of Columbia,” testified D.L. “Corky” Calhoun, a D.C. business executive and former member of the 1976 championship NBA Portland Trail Blazers.
“Like the Washington Wizards and the Washington Nationals the Washington Redskins should be playing their games here in a facility in Washington D.C.,” said Calhoun.
Plan detractors include Brian Flahaven, Chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B, whose jurisdiction envelopes the 190 acre RFK Stadium site.
“The proposed complex would cost billions in taxpayer dollars with little return to the city,” Flahaven told committee members.
But members of the council were reminded that the Verizon Center helped revitalized downtown D.C. and Nationals Park has been a boom to the Navy Yard neighborhood.
Hotel developer William Conway insists a stadium complex on the site of RFK would be a job maker.
“It creates new opportunities and lots and lots of new jobs. One hotel, the size of 500 rooms, could create as many as 1,000 new jobs in the area,” Conway testified.
Flahaven complains that the plan lacks logic and its ambitions are overblown.
“Why would we build more a thousand new hotel rooms for a stadium that we would primarily use for 10 football games a year,” Flahaven said, “A new football stadium is not going to attract the hotels and retail envisioned in the plan,” he added.
The D.C. Council bill would require the mayor to order a study of building the sports and entertainment complex.
“If there is to be a new football stadium built in the metropolitan region, and the Redskins organization certainly wants that, there is no better site than where RFK now sits,” declared D.C. Council member Jack Evans, a member of the Economic Development Committee.
Advocates for developing the site point to its advantages including the Metro subway stop, the road system and space for parking.