Capitol Hill Restoration Society

Future of RFK Stadium Site

Posted on October 29th, 2023

Potential redevelopment of the RFK Stadium site has been a subject of discussion for decades. Joanna Kendig reports on recent community meetings and provides a list of a list of articles and resources about this important community issue.

The Future of the RFK Campus – By Joanna Kendig

Discussions continue regarding the development of the 174-acre area known as RFK Campus on the eastern edge of Capitol Hill. On October 18, 2023, a meeting organized by the Friends of Kingman Park Civic Association (FOKP) was held at St. Benedict the Moor Church at 320 21st Street NE.

The FOKP invited Mayor Bowser to discuss the issue of a football stadium at RFK. Around 250 neighbors and representatives of various community organizations attended.

Prior to the meeting, FOKP conducted a survey of community members asking their preference on the use of the land. Sixty-seven percent of the respondents (approximately 2,000 people) voted against a football stadium.

The hosts presented the preliminary survey results (paper votes were still being counted) and shared the community’s view that mixed use development including green space, a sports recreation complex and new housing was a better use of the land than a football stadium used eight to ten times a year. The community also expressed concerns about taxpayers footing the bill.

In response, Mayor Bowser said she listened to the community about their needs and agreed with them. “And I know that on 174 acres, they are all possible,” she said. The Mayor made clear that she wants to transform the RFK campus into a new stadium for the Commanders as well as a mixed-use development, but she also emphasized several times that the city’s core focus was on getting control of the land from the federal government. A bill that would extend DC’s lease of the site for 99 years and allow for a multitude of uses beyond sports, including the construction of housing, advanced out of a House Oversight Committee in September.

The Mayor also spoke passionately about DC being home to all major sports teams.

While the city waits for a vote from Congress, the Bowser administration commissioned a “sports study” to evaluate funding for a potential NFL stadium and the financial needs of existing sports franchises.

It will take time and more community discussions for the future use of the RFK campus to be decided. The Committee of 100 on the Federal City will soon be publishing a white paper on this issue. There will likely be more opportunities for community engagement.

Background information