D.C. residents support Redskins building stadium at RFK site

Ben Krimmel
November 22, 2019 - 11:10 am
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A majority of Washington D.C. residents support the Washington Redskins building a new stadium at the RFK Stadium site but oppose the use of public funds to build it, according to a recent poll.

A poll by The Washington Post found 59 percent of respondents support a new football stadium in the District with 33 percent opposing. (The same telephone poll of 905 city residents found the Redskins had slipped from the top spot among D.C. fans favorite teams.)

The Redskins have been exploring options to return to D.C. for some time under owner Daniel Snyder. Team president Bruce Allen, who has led the hunt for a new stadium, did not have specifics of where the Redskins would like to build a new ground in a July interview but said the franchise has a few years to settle on plans before the team's lease at FedEx Field expires.

“I would say within a year, that is the timetable we’re looking at,” Allen said in July on "The Larry O'Connor Show" on D.C.'s WMAL. “Our deadline for making a decision is really 2022 because our lease in Maryland ends in 2026.”

This would give the Redskins proper time to begin construction on a new stadium. The Post previously reported D.C. plans to tear down RFK Stadium by 2021.

The RFK site, which was home to the Redskins from 1961-96, has been viewed as the most logical spot for the team to build their new stadium, a position supported by Snyder and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

“We’ve always believed we have the best location,” Bowser said in Feb. 2019. “We think RFK is the most suitable site for not just for a stadium but a whole mix of uses and that’s been our approach with the National Park Service — that the District has to extend its control of the RFK site as well as be able to do more than sports and entertainment uses.”

However, D.C. residents are not less interested in footing the bill for the stadium. The poll revealed less than four in 10 District residents support providing the land or public funds for the stadium.

The survey found 39 percent of respondents would support the D.C. government providing the Redskins with the land and just 28 percent would support using city funds to help finance the new football stadium.

Related:

D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) launched an online petition in Dec. 2018 called "HailNoRFK" urging people to reject the use of public money to subsidize the building of a new football stadium on the RFK site.

"As a DC resident, 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," the 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."

The petition currently has over 4,000 signatures. 

While the 190-acre RFK site is operated by Events DC it is owned by the National Park Service. The Post notes D.C.'s current lease allows for the land to be used only for a stadium, “recreational facilities, open spaces, or public outdoor recreation opportunities,” or similar public uses. Mayor Bowser has pushed for a new stadium to anchor a complex with retail, restaurants, and affordable housing.

In Feb. 2019, Maryland Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told the Redskins he would not continue his efforts to persuade the organization to build their next home on land near MGM National Harbor in Prince George's County. Northern Virginia, home to a large portion of the Redskins fan base, has also been seen as an option, but there has been little interest from the state to build a stadium under Governor Ralph Northam. 

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