Monday, April 4, 2016

As a fan of the NFL and an bigger fan of the Washington Redskins, it’s only natural that I weigh in on D.C.’s proposition to redevelop RFK Stadium, the Skins’ longtime home, and its surrounding environs.

Like Redskins owner Dan Snyder, I remember the days when we rocked the sounds that were heard around Northeast and Southeast D.C. The aluminum bleachers in RFK — which literally rocked — told players and denizens alike that RFK was our house (win or lose).

Those days are long gone (since we mostly lose). The Redskins opened their new house in deep suburban Maryland in 1997. D.C. United began calling RFK home in 1996, and now fans hope the soccer club will get a new pitch a little ways down the waterfront in time for the 2018 Major League Soccer season.

Now D.C. officials are becoming publicly engaged to answer a single question: What to do with the RFK site?

Of course, the new development plan for the site must be multiuse because public funds will be put into any financial equation. For that reason alone, it cannot be Redskins only. Green space only. Washington Capitals/Washington Wizards only. Or concert and performance arts only.

And remember, the D.C. Armory needs a home as well. And no one is forgetting the costs. The Wizards/Capitals/Mystics stakeholders are also considering looking for a new arena.

Build upon the proposition correctly, and they all will come.

While I am a die-hard Redskins and Wizards fan, I am no fan of public giveaways. City officials, who are the trustees of our public assets, should never simply hand over our assets to a moneymaking venture — regardless of the venture.

D.C. should not follow the example of the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland, which paid for twin houses for the Ravens and the Orioles from which Baltimoreans have yet to recoup their upfront investment.

Sure, the civic pride is routinely displayed, but so are the joblessness and the pain and suffering of thousands of people who get a handout instead of a hand-up.

D.C. wants to make money off the RFK site.

Mr. Snyder is looking for a new stadium for the Redskins.

This could be a win-win situation if D.C. officials play “our” cards right.

Mr. Snyder, who owns FedEx Field, knows what he wants and explained as much to Comcast SportsNet in the summer of 2014: “I’m going to be very retro with it. It’s gonna feel like RFK. It’s gonna move like RFK. I actually asked architectural firms to do it, and they said that they can do it. I said that I think the lower-bowl sections are going to want to rock the stadium like the old days.”

The good ol’ days indeed — when our NFL “Warriors” called Washington, D.C., their home.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at

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