Bill seeks to let D.C. buy RFK Stadium site

Ben Krimmel
March 23, 2019 - 11:35 am
D.C. seeks to acquire 190 acres of land at RFK Stadium site.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Categories: 

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton wants Congress to sell the land at the RFK Stadium site to the city.

Norton, the District's nonvoting member of Congress, will file legislation in the coming days that would allow D.C. to buy the 190-acres of land, according to The Washington Post. The land is owned by the National Park Service and leased to the District. 

The bill would allow D.C. to build new housing, recreation facilities and parks, and possibly, a new NFL stadium for the Washington Redskins

Norton told DCist she wants to put the valuable piece of unused land back to use. 

“It’s a wasteland. This is federal land that consists chiefly of parking lots. The federal government isn’t using it," she said. "All I’m trying to do is allow the District of Columbia, fair and square, to purchase the land, with the proceeds going to the U.S. Treasury."

While the need for housing and new parks on the asphalt that surrounds RFK stadium has broad support, a new stadium for the Redskins does not.

D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) has been a vocal critic of diverting District funds to building a new home for the Redskins in the city. He called building a stadium for the team "a horrible waste of taxpayer dollars."

“Build more housing. Recruit more jobs. More parks that could connect to Anacostia neighborhoods," Allen said. 

Earlier this month, Mayor Muriel Bowser reiterated her stance that D.C. is the true home for the team while issuing a proclamation in honor of Redskins tight end and Washington native Vernon Davis.

"He knows one thing that I know - that there's only one true home for the Washington Redskins, right? In Washington," Bowser said. 

Norton told The Post her bill "isn't about a stadium" and the draft of the legislation does not reference the Redskins or a new stadium. 

The Redskins, who left the District for Landover's FedEx Field in 1996, have been looking for a new home for some time. However, owner Daniel Snyder has yet to find a new spot. 

The Post reported in December 2018 the Redskins pushed Congress to include a stadium provision for a 60,000-seat ground at the RFK Stadium site in a massive spending bill the Republican-controlled Congress was rushing to finish before the beginning of 2019. However, that measure failed.

Allen launched a petition in the following weeks urging residents to say "Hail No" to using public funds for a ground at the RFK stadium site. 

"I am against a deal that gives away a single square foot of land or a single District tax dollar to build a new stadium for billionaire NFL owner Dan Snyder," the petition read

"As a DC resident, I don't want to see DC hoodwinked into paying for a billionaire's stadium," Allen's petition continued. "The District needs our tax dollars to create new housing at all levels, support local DC entrepreneurs who run small and local business, take urgent steps forward to shift to a 100% clean energy environment, build larger and modern schools for our growing city, fund our Metro system, and in general spend money to make life better and easier for DC residents."

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan closed the door on offering the Redskins land for a new home near MGM National Harbor in Prince George's County. A spokeswoman for the Governor said in February they were "not continuing discussions with the Redskins regarding this site at this time" for a 60,000-seat stadium in Oxon Cove Park. 

At the NFL Combine, Redskins team president Bruce Allen said the team supported the governor's decision.

"We're still looking at everything," Allen said. "We support whatever is good for the DMV on any issue and if Governor Hogan believes he's doing the right thing, so we'll support him."

Gov. Hogan's decision made the District and RFK Stadium the most likely spot and Mayor Bowser called RFK "the most suitable site" for a stadium. However, she said the team "would have to build its own stadium," without elaborating on any perks or deals the city would offer.

However, if the bill is passed and the District is able to purchase the land, many hurdles remain for the Redskins. 

Councilmember David Gross (At Large), another stadium opponent, said after the city acquires the land there will be a public process to determine the best use. 

“It’s important for us to have that land under our control,” Gross said via The Post. “I just hope we keep in check the desires of Dan Snyder, because he’s proven he can’t be trusted.”

Follow Ben Krimmel and 106.7 The Fan on Twitter.

Related: