This effort to bring the Redskins back into Washington is completely absurd. I’m as big a District partisan as you’ll find, but it really doesn’t bother me that the team currently plays its games 3 miles outside of the District. Mayor Fenty and Councilman Jack Evans seem excited by the opportunity to replace RFK with a new, domed stadium, which might, according to the linked story, be adjacent to Redskins practice facilities, and which almost certainly would include some surface parking (and perhaps quite a lot). The new stadium complex would, in other words, occupy most or all of the area currently devoted to RFK and surrounding parking lots.
That would be a tragedy. That land is a blank slate. It has good access to one Metro station already, and an infill station could be added at Benning Road and Oklahoma Avenue. Before long, a streetcar line will run down Benning Avenue, as well, connecting the land to H Street and Union Station. This place has the potential to be a major new focus of District life, containing residences, offices, and retail options, home to thousands of people and jobs generating a lot of revenue for the city and taking full advantage of a prime riverside spot.
Or, it could house a stadium, where 10 times a year people come to watch football, and where the rest of the year a few very rich men gather to practice football. It seems highly unlikely that Dan Snyder would consider a move without some lucrative incentives from the city, and it seems highly unlikely that the stadium complex would do much to boost neighborhood economic development, given the frequency of stadium events and the fact that most of the usable land would go toward stadium-related uses.
The only upsides would be civic pride (if you think that Washingtonians would take pride in the handing over of so much valuable land to an NFL franchise) and improved Metro access to Redskins games. But there are far easier and better ways to get people to FedEx field without the use of cars.
I would accept this if Dan Snyder agreed to pay for the stadium with his own money, if he accepted that there would be no surface parking, if he chipped in on infrastructure improvements including investments in the streetcar line, infill station, and street grid, and if the land immediately around the stadium could be developed as a mixed-use, walkable neighborhood. Barring all that, this would be a boondoggle of the highest order — an embarrassment for DC.
When will the city’s leaders understand what actually makes cities great, and that that doesn’t include moving a team six miles west just so you can say it plays within your borders?