“Focus on District-wide priorities, not football stadium.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user mosley.brian

Thanks to a reader for passing on from Change.org:

“It is an exciting time to live in Washington, D.C., with positive developments happening city-wide. Please tell the Mayor and City Council to use this opportunity to make decisions that will have a lasting positive impact on all District residents. Focus funds and efforts on schools, crime, transportation, good jobs, housing…not the misplaced priority of new football stadium. As residents of D.C., we oppose any proposed plan to build a new football stadium for Dan Snyder and the Washington Football Team. The reason for the opposition is simply a matter of priorities. Football stadiums are very expensive and, unlike baseball and other sports stadiums, used only a handful of times each year. There are much more important and impactful ways to spend a billion or more dollars.

Residents in all quadrants of the District are concerned about increases in crime, problems with public transportation, improving schools and addressing the challenge of affordable housing. Many school-aged children in the District attend schools in desperate need of repair. Law enforcement and emergency responders talk about the negative impact of slashed budgets on their jobs. Affordable housing is needed in neighborhoods that are close and accessible to jobs. Public transportation clearly needs some work. If the city has hundreds of millions (or billions) to spend on a football stadium, let’s spend it on these things instead. Fix what’s broken. Seize the opportunity to make the District a better place for all to live.

Putting the cost aside, redeveloping the RFK site is an exciting opportunity for the city, occupying nearly 190 acres of riverfront property, easily accessible to transit, and a blank slate for the entire city. There’s so much good that could be done with it. Much of the site is flood plain, and would be an excellent choice to accommodate playing fields that for the already cramped sports leagues and growing population of kids in the District.

A METRO station along Oklahoma Avenue will allow the city to fill-in to help accommodate the District’s growth without displacement. It’s an opportunity to incorporate Kingman Island and the Anacostia River into any design. Take one look at the Georgetown Waterfront or Yards Park and it becomes clear what can be possible. Please tell the Mayor and City Council to prioritize D.C. and use this opportunity to make decisions that will have a lasting positive impact on all District residents.”

49 Comment

  • Anonomnom

    Any chance that a counter-petition exists? I’d sign that…
    I fully agree that a new development should be mixed-use, sort of like the Yards Park development, with attractions that will draw people to the waterfront year-round. But this is something that can be done WITH a new stadium, not instead of it. A harmony of the two ideas makes the most sense to me. Also, I believe (correct me if I am wrong) that the land RFK is on is required to be used for “recreational” purposes, so certain ideas (ex. schools, affordable housing, etc) would not be feasible, even though they would obviously positively impact the city.

    • the problem with a football stadium, as the original poster said, is that it is used 8 times a year for football. Its hard to justify using that space for a football stadium. If you want the area to be developed, there is a better use of space. There is a reason the area around RFK never had a huge mixed use development.

      • Anonomnom

        I don’t see how that goes against my point that a mixed-use development that includes areas (particularly around the waterfront) that are focused on being year-round attractions strikes me as the best solution.
        Also, the there are two things people need to remember when discussing the angst against building an new stadium in RFK: The land is not available for any use you can image, as it is federally owned with strings attached to it. Additionally, while some say it is not on “their” priority list, bringing the Washington football team back to DC is something that actually many people who have lived in this city for years want to see happen. I am not trying to invalidate any point against the construction, but just point out that there is a pretty strong divide on this topic and the most sensible solution would be to find a middle ground that serves the interests of both sides.

        • building stadiums, particularly football stadiums (simply because they are used so rarely throughout the year) has been shown to not help the area economy at all. It worked in Chinatown because it is close to the center of the city and there was already things going on around there. The baseball stadium works because at least 80 days a year, there is something drawing people to the area.

          Personally, I want to be able to eventually send my kids to dc schools and walk around my neighborhood knowing if I call 911, the police will respond to my emergency and not put me on hold.. How does spending a billion dollars of tax money on a football stadium help long time residents? You are correct, there is a split on this topic, but how does bringing the team “back to dc” help the city in any definitive way other then city pride?

      • SusanRH

        Also, a huge part of football culture is tailgating, so any green space will be taken up by parking lots.

        • ^this. 1000x this.
          Football stadiums are very different beasts than Hockey/Basketball or Baseball.

        • Yes. This is one of the biggest issues with an NFL stadium in the District. It isn’t just the stadium itself and the lack of events outside of the 20-30 times a year (assuming preseason, college, special events, concerts). It’s the insistence on tailgate culture and parking lot sprawl that will destroy the hopes of surrounding this with ancillary services that will serve the community. If I’m wrong, please include an example of an NFL city where this is not true.

    • I think the issue is that the same capital funding that would be used to renovate our schools ends up getting diverted to funding a stadium. Seems like backward priorities to me.

      • Ally

        Exactly. A huge amount of residents have to move to VA or MD when their kids get to school age. I have a 3-month old and hope that the schools improve because I love DC and don’t want to move. Money would go a very long way toward fixing the issue.

    • For me the problem is that a football stadium with all the acres of required parking is a huge hole of nothingness when not in use. There is no way that they will reduce parking and relying and rely predominantly on Metro because of the culture of football AND because Metro couldn’t handle it. All of that space would be used pretty much as is if reconfigured in some way. If you take the 8 games of a home season plus a few dozen other uses – that thing just sits there for the rest of the 365 days of the year contributing nothing. If the requirements of NPS for recreation or whatever, can be met in other ways on smaller levels then at least the space would be used.

      • exactly. Have you ever been to navy yard when there isnt a Nats game? it is empty.

        • Actually, no, not at all. There seems to be something going on every weekend in Navy Yard, ball game or not. This saturday and sunday there were two different running events, there was a festival….so, no.

    • As a Washington Football fan, I would love if the team moved back to the RFK site. As a rational human being, I can’t think of a solid, rational argument to compel the DC tax payers to fund a new stadium for Danny-boy. If he wants to fund the stadium himself and donate millions to the metro/local ANCs to help maintain the nearby infrastructure that would be inevitably affected by the stadium traffic, then sure, build away.
      I find it interesting that the city can compel RE developers to build subsidized housing, but they seem to bend over backwards when it comes to pro-level sports.

    • +1000

      I live two blocks from RFK and want nothing more than for that rusting eye sore to disappear, but I don’t want 190 acres of playing fields just down the road from me. And as someone that plans to live in the neighborhood for many years to come, I am okay with a smartly-designed stadium replacing RFK. “Innovative” is a word that keeps getting tossed around with regards to how to use the space for non-stadium options…There has to be a way to innovatively build a new football stadium that actually works for the community as a whole. As Anon referenced, I’d like something to happen with the site that draws in a mixed-use retail crowd to the area, and I think a stadium is probably the best way to do that.

      190 acres is a lot of land and can accommodate a variety of wishes if developed properly. I’m afraid the neighborhood is going to spend so much time fighting against a stadium (which if the city really wants to build it probably will) that we lose the chance to mold a future stadium and the rest of the site into something that is more than just a big structure with lots of parking lots.

      • The problem is that all the land that currently is RFK or is parking for RFK. If a new football stadium is put there it will remain a stadium and acres of parking – there will be no other re-purposing of any of the land. They will need all the parking that is there plus more. They may put in some parking garages – I don’t know if any other stadiums that do that – but not as a way to reduce the total acreage allowing for some other uses, they will do it to try and keep as many cars out of the surrounding neighborhoods as possible or just because they need more because they will bill a stadium that is bigger than RFK. When the Washington football team was at RFK parking in the neighborhood as overflow or to avoid the parking fees was not uncommon. Because the memory of that was still fresh, when the Nats were there temporarily in 2005 the city put up the time limit signs up till about 13th that are still there. I never really thought they were necessary for baseball because it is a totally different crowd than football. Since they are still there that might – I stress might- help but unfortunately, I foresee people taking their chances with tickets thinking (rightly) that there aren’t enough parking enforcement people to tick and even fewer to tow. I live on the edge of the parking limit area – not as close as it seems you might, and I can definitely see people parking and walking. I hate to be that person complaining for what amounts to only a few days of the year, but as a resident of the city taxpayer I am not sure I want to have to deal with the Maryland and Virginia football fans particularly if it brings in nothing to the city coffers the other 300+ days of the year.

      • If you think Dan Snyder is going to give up on the surface parking lots at RFK for stacked parking, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Not only is tailgating the culture of NFL, how many people do you think would go see the depressing on-field product at Landover if they weren’t getting hammered in the parking lots before the game?

  • I thought the current football stadium in Landover, Maryland was under lease for a long time. If I recall, Jack Evans the Ward 2 Councilmember wants to bring the Washington Redskins back to the District by offering to build a new stadium. A project like this can be very expensive. Many D.C. residents are living from pay check to pay check and they can’t afford the current expensive apartments/Condos and the expensive property taxes.

    • Don’t worry, it’s only the money of gentrifiers and business. The locals will get their football team again. More bread and circuses.

  • I don’t agree with the counter proposal to build a new metro station, not when WMATAhas been revealed to be woefully overextended with the opening of the Silver Line.

    • Merits of the Silver line aside, an infill station on elevated tracks that could be built relatively cheaply at Oklahoma Ave seems like a win-win regardless of the full site development plan. It could take a lot of pressure off the X2, especially if the streetcar project implodes.

  • “Stanford economist Roger Noll says professional sports stadiums do not generate local economic growth as advertised. ” http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/july/stadium-economics-noll-073015.html

    “”NFL stadiums do not generate significant local economic growth, and the incremental tax revenue is not sufficient to cover any significant financial contribution by the city,””

    • You mean the NFL and team owners have been unscrupulous when making claims of economic benefits to the cities they fleece, I mean, inhabit?
      I’m shocked. Shocked!
      The NFL is a class act non-profit organization with nothing but a stellar record of bringing their misdoings to public light in an efficient and thorough manner. This is harsh news. I’m gobsmacked.

      • Not sure why you felt compelled to post your sarcastic response. Many people (read: voters) are not aware that they are actively lied to by the politicians who push the “but it brings economic development!” pablum. Granted, might not be the case on this particular forum, but it’s still important to cite/mention in this discussion.

        • I wasn’t being sarcastic toward the great post by Datamo. Rather, my snide comment was more aimed at the NFL, which is an organization I have zero respect for. Thus, I just mean, “it figures that a slimeball organization would mislead people nationwide for decades.”

      • the nfl reneged their non-profit status this year.

    • this is old news. Sports fans are quick to credit public stadium giveaways for the economic revitalization of urban cores despite mountains of evidence to the contrary

      • Old news to you, perhaps. Its rather myopic to think that everyone shares your knowledge and point of view.

  • Has a change.org “petition” ever changed anything?

    • Nope. But it definitely made many, many people think their internet activism is making some difference.

      • “Nope”? You know this for a fact?

        I call BS. While most have zero impact I know of several myself where elected officials took notice of very popular petitions and mentioned them when speaking about the issues at hand.

        • There’s a marked difference between “took notice” and “changed the outcome”. See: weak tie vs strong tie connections. (While I’m not the biggest Gladwell fan, he had a solid article about this general topic.)

  • I’m gonna just play devil’s advocate and say that for all the logical reasons I wouldn’t want the stadium here, I also can’t get excited about the Washington Football Team coming into the city because, well, they haven’t been a relevant franchise in my lifetime. Not to talk smack just for the sake of starting things. But let’s be honest. Factually, empirically, they have been an “also ran” for 25 years or so.
    It would be different if a team that was “synonymous” with the city, and had massive amounts of passionate fans (e.g., Steelers, Packers?) were considering moving into the their respective city limits.

    • Haha, as a fan, I agree with you to some extent. I’m hesitant to give Danny-boy another penny. (Though, maybe if he runs another mattress sale in the parking lot…)

    • For real. The Redskins have been the worst organization in football for at least a decade. It would be like Enron asking for more capital to try again.

  • Agree. I need to see improvements in crime and schools. Immediately. I’ve been sorely disappointed in the direction of DC since Bowser took over — especially on crime. Not acceptable!

  • There are good reasons not to pour public money into financing any stadium – including baseball or basketball. The argument that building a stadium, in and of itself, leads to economic revival has been thoroughly disproven. But if you are going to reject a new stadium, it should not be because the money could be put to some better use because the odds are astronomically high that it won’t be. Jack Kent Cooke left DC for Landover because the City would not build him a new stadium. It’s not like the City then took that stadium money and applied it somewhere else. So don’t delude yourself into thinking that the equivalent of a new stadium’s cost will be put into low-income housing, homeless outreach, or any other such program if the City opts against building a new stadium.

    • money is fungible. The cash gets used elsewhere, its just not earmarked as such. Obviously the city isnt going to report cash spent on schools as “the cash we spent on schools that otherwise would have been used to build a stadium”. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, the city has 100 dollars. They were going to spend that 100 on a stadium, but they decided not to. Then, they had to fix a school and that fix would cost 100 dollars. They fix the school and pay 100 bucks. how is that not money that would be used for a stadium being used for a better purpose?

      • It’s a different type of funding. The school funding you’re talking about comes from tax revenue or debt covered by the general tax revenue. Stadium borrowing is stadium specific and paid back by team rent and taxes generated on site. The stadium funding only exists if the stadium is built,

    • Operational budgets and capital budgets tend not to mix as much – that part is true. But items in the capital budget such as school renovations do compete with other capital budget items, like a $%# streetcar.

  • I also don’t live too far from RFK. While I understand many of the concerns listed, I just want the rusting eye sore to be torn down. If Dan Snyder wants to spend his money to build a stadium, then I support that over years of what may be failed neighborhood attempts to lobby congress to change the law to allow a different use of the space or internecine fights about whether to have a velodrome or a frisbee park. And while we’re at it, something needs to be done with half the abandoned buildings on reservation 13. Development is desperately needed for this end of Cap Hill, and a stadium-if well conceived- could be just the spark.

  • Have no fear the Washington Football team will not be able to move here until they change their name just as it was when the original owner had to hire a Black ball player before they could use the Stadium. That ball player was Bobby Mitchell.

  • The graduation rate in DC is 59%. The number of homocides in DC so far this year is 105. This is where the money should be going. To making our school system effective and successful and to making our neighborhoods safe. Not to paying for a stadium for a terrible football team. I love next to RFK and there are already issues in the neighborhood when small scale events are put on at the stadium. Having the football team here will attract more undesirable people to come in from the Maryland suburbs. I am disgusted and embarrassed to call DC my home and I will be moving my family out of the district before my son reaches school age.

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