From soccer games to the AT&T Nation’s Classic, Washington, D.C.’s ancient Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium still provides an electric atmosphere for sporting events around the District. Throughout Saturday’s contest between the Howard Bison and the Morehouse Maroon Tigers, RFK was in rare form. Shaking stands, a vibrant crowd and a parking lot parade of parties, visions of the mid ‘80s when a dominant Washington Redskins team used to call RFK home had to dance through locals’ heads. But with FedExField as the dominant stadium in the Metro area, should officials even bother to renovate an ancient RFK? AFRO Sports Desk Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley debate:
Riley: I don’t see why the stadium hasn’t been touched. D.C. United still faithfully plays there and you have two major college football games that are hosted there as well. Considering its location in the city, D.C. high school football could easily hold its championship game there as well as being the site of other big-time matchups during the season. The proximity of the Metro transit system is a feather in its cap that FedExField doesn’t have. I’ve tinkered with my own ideas of just hosting all football-related events at Nationals Park but it’s nothing like the feel and familiarity of RFK.
Green: Time has definitely passed on old RFK. When you think of Washington, D.C. now, you think of state of the art stadiums such as Nationals Park or FedExField. RFK has passed its prime and investing any money into its revitalization would be foolish. That money could be served for a whole host of other projects around the area and keep in mind we’re talking about a stadium that doesn’t host any major games outside of the city’s professional soccer team.
Riley: Soccer games aside, we’re talking about a stadium that could serve the major venue for all high school football, soccer and lacrosse games. The AT&T Nation’s Classic was a huge success for the second straight year and I don’t see why the same success couldn’t be delivered to other areas. Just letting the stadium rot until the doors fall off doesn’t make much sense at all especially with all the sporting activities that happens around the area. For the past few years the I-95 Kickoff Classic has been held at Towson Stadium. But how cool would it have been to host those games at RFK?
Green: RFK holds a lot of sentimental value for the locals around the area but outside of its history, it really serves no use to the city other than an oversized parking lot at this point. There’s been talk about moving the Redskins back into D.C., but FedEx has been working just fine for the past few years despite the insane long lines and crazy parking rules. I absolutely despise FedEx’s location but it hasn’t stopped the masses from venturing inside. Your idea is heartfelt but financially, it doesn’t make sense.
Riley: A renovation might be costly but putting an efficient football stadium in the nation’s capital is past due. It doesn’t make sense for one of the country’s leading cities to be without a modern football arena. Call it financially foolish if you want but you’re not even factoring how much money the metro system or the arena would bring in if RFK was resurrected. And have you ever tried going to a Redskins game on Sundays? Don’t waste your time. Considering how much traffic would be cleared up would be worth the price alone. The Redskins may even be able to play a game or two at a new RFK and give commuters a chance to erase the two to three-hour drive to get into the stadium. Traffic would be cleared around the Landover area along the beltway and the misery of football Sunday in the Metro area would be alleviated.
Green: I’ve factored all of that in and a major renovation could still be in store but personally, it would make more sense to me to just use Nationals Park as a universal venue considering its closeness to the metro, size and modern adaptability. Face it Riley, RFK was nice in its prime but times and newer venues have made the site virtually useless. If anything, it’s the location of RFK that has the most value. Maybe if they completely knocked the whole stadium down and replaced it with a new state-of-the-art stadium, I’d be open to moving the ‘Skins back to Northeast, D.C., but that would cost too much. And a simple renovation of an old stadium that barely holds 46,000 fans just doesn’t compare to
FedExField’s which seats 90, 000 people. That’s nearly 50,000 fans that will be left out of watching the game live, which adds up to a ton of money taken out of the pockets of Redskins owner Dan Snyder. It always comes down to the money, and renovating RFK just doesn’t make dollars so it doesn’t make sense.