By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
When the Washington football team moved from Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Stadium in the District of Columbia to what is now FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, some District of Columbia fans never got over it.
However, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has revived the hopes of Redskins fans when she mentioned on Aug. 30 at the team’s Homecoming Luncheon at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown that she wants to move the team back to the District and is open to helping finance the building of a stadium. The comment has sparked discussion among the District’s political leaders and residents on if the city should help the team build a stadium.
D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) represents the RFK Stadium area on the council and doesn’t like the idea.
“Our city urgently needs to make a greater investment in affordable housing, jobs and our schools,” Allen said in a statement to the AFRO. “We can’t afford the luxury of carrying a billionaire’s water to build a new stadium for a NFL team that will only play eight games a year and leave us with acres of empty parking lots the remaining 357 days. This site, right on the banks of the Anacostia River, deserves an investment that creates opportunity for District families and adds to the quality of life for the surrounding community.
“That’s not something an NFL stadium can offer.”
D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) also publicly supports Allen on this issue.
The Washington football team played at RFK stadium from 1961-1996, when numerous issues led the team to leave for Prince George’s County. Since the Washington football team’s departure, DC United, the city’s Major League Soccer professional franchise, and the Washington Nationals played at RFK until both teams got stadiums in the District this year and in 2008, respectively.
However, a spokeswoman for D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) told the AFRO in a statement that Gray is open to the team coming back to the District and thinks the current stadium should be torn down.
A spokesman for D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who chairs the powerful Committee on Finance and Revenue that would have to approve any public funds for a stadium, told the AFRO that Evans wants the Washington football team playing in the city and would look at any stadium proposal proffered by the mayor and/or owner Daniel Snyder.
While it’s no secret District residents love their team, paying for a stadium is a different matter.
“I would appreciate it if the [team] would return to D.C.,” Kathy Henderson, a longtime advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 5 and a candidate for the ward council seat on Nov. 6, told the AFRO,” but not at the taxpayers dime.”
Henderson said she would be more receptive to the idea of the stadium if Snyder paid for its construction while the District government could pay for infrastructure costs.
Sandra “S.S.” Seegars is a former advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 8 and is cool to a new stadium.
“We have enough stadiums in the city and we need to hold up on going forward with that,” Seegars told the AFRO. “We can look at a new … stadium after the St. Elizabeths East Hospital is built.”