On Sept. 16, Events DC held the first of two community meetings to seek input for its RFK Stadium Redevelopment Study at St. Coletta of Greater Washington. More than 150 residents attended the meeting and had a chance to share their thoughts and ideas on how to the develop the roughly 180 acres that make up the RFK Stadium campus. Here are my key takeaways from the meeting:
- There is little support for a new football stadium – Attendees voiced overwhelming opposition to a new NFL stadium on the site. Not one of the 8 breakout groups recommended a new football stadium at the site and many noted that such a use would provide little benefit to the city. And Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen made it clear that he believes there are better uses for site than a stadium.
- Plenty of great non-stadium alternatives – From an amphitheater to youth athletic fields to museums to mixed-use development to waterfront park space, there was no shortage of great potential uses offered by attendees. One key message – we need to activate this site now, not wait on a plan that may never materialize.
- Events DC has had no contact with the Washington NFL team – Representatives of Brailsford & Dunlavey, the consulting firm hired by Events DC to conduct the study, shared a list of all of the organizations/institutions they had interviewed so far. While most of the organizations were sports-related, one organization was missing – the Washington NFL team. Apparently, the team has chosen not to engage in the Events DC study which means…
- The Mayor’s Office is leading negotiations with the Washington NFL Team – As I learned last week, Mayor Muriel Bowser wants a new football stadium at the RFK site and views the Events DC study as the back-up plan. And she has apparently cut Events DC out of her negotiations/communication with the Washington NFL team.
- Setting up a City versus the Neighborhood Dynamic – While Events DC deserves credit for listening to the community at this meeting, it is clear that they support a stadium at the site. Events DC representatives parroted Mayor Bowser’s argument that the site was large enough to accommodate a stadium and numerous other uses. They also said that while the views of neighbors are important, they need to take a citywide and regional view of the site, noting that their second community meeting on Sept. 30 is designed for residents across the city. Their assumption (or hope) is that most city residents have vastly different views of a stadium at the site than neighbors.
- The study results are important – Though Mayor Bowser and Events DC want a stadium, the study is still critical. When completed, it will present a number of alternatives, including feasible non-stadium alternatives that can be shared citywide and with the DC Council.
- Residents are paying attention – It was fantastic to see such a strong turnout for this meeting. We recognize that the RFK Stadium site represents such a huge opportunity for both our neighborhood and the city and will fight hard to make sure it is not squandered.
If you attended the meeting, post your comments or reactions below. And mark your calendars for the citywide meeting on Wed., Sept. 30, 6-9 pm at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.