- The Washington Times
Monday, September 9, 2019


RFK Stadium is headed for the graveyard. Sniff, sniff.

Plans call for the aged structure to be demolished in 2021.

Up ‘til then, though, Dan Snyder has a decision to make, Congress has a decision to make about the site and both should place their bets on a guaranteed moneymaker — a new home for the Washington Redskins.

Mr. Snyder owns the team and is considering leaving FedEx Field in Maryland. Can’t blame him. The team has done so well there, regardless of the coach, top brass and quarterback.

As for the site, the residents of the city can’t actually do as they please because the RFK site, like much land in this 68.3-square-mile federal city, is owned by the federal government.

And as things now stand, the lease to the city mandates that the plot of land on which RFK sits be used for sports and entertainment.

For sure, it’s a prime location, idle as it is, on the banks of the Anacostia River with a Metrorail station and conveniently located for fans, foodies and sports gamblers to dart in and out on game days.

I know. I know. Wishful thinking.

You bet it is.

Having been a neighbor of RFK, a fan of the Redskins, an NFL junkie and a concertgoer, I’m one D.C. taxpayer who has always appreciated other people’s money when it pours into the District. Bring it on!

When Walmart said it was looking at D.C., I urged rolling out the red carpet.

When Costco said it wanted to open a warehouse and gas station at a D.C.-Maryland junction, I said “please” and “thanks.”

Not because of the brand, mind you. I cheered the potential new neighbors because of a simple mathematical equation: Consumers + disposable income = more D.C. revenue. And, as you know, jobs.

Major league sports is a bit different. The owners always want and expect their new neighbors, i.e. taxpayers, to kick in some dough, usually via tax credits for the necessary infrastructure.

The latter, of course, means jobs — and today’s construction workers don’t carry lunchpails from home as they used to, which means they also are rolling around the city looking for something to grab and go.

There’s opposition, of course, to the Redskins coming back to D.C. There’s criticism about the team’s name, and there’s advocacy from the city’s newbies, who want a Green New Deal for the RFK. You know, walking and biking trails, small eateries and shops, dog parks and the like. You get their drift.

None of those could turn the nation’s capital into a destination capital, however. (I shiver every time a Nats game is nationally broadcast and their new stadium, which I helped finance, isn’t rocking with fans. Ditto the NBA/WNBA Capital One Arena.)

Washington is, after all, a football town. A pigskin town.

The Nationals, Capitals and Wizards try to please, thank goodness. Even the men’s NCAA madness in March pulls in great crowds.

What’s missing is an NFL home. On the river. Surrounded by oodles of retail.

Oh, there’s even talk about building new affordable housing on the RFK site, and you know what that means. D.C. officials would dip into taxpayers’ wallets to pay for subsidies to make the new housing “affordable.”

There have been no negotiations between D.C. officials and Mr. Snyder since last summer.

If Barack Obama can have a beer summit at the White House, D.C. officials, Mr. Snyder and key members of Congress could have a Ben’s Chili Bowl summit at the Trump White House.

The decisions that Mr. Snyder and Congress — and, by extension, President Trump and the D.C. Council — must make can be summed up with one word: M-O-N-E-Y.

On second thought, make that two words: B-I-G M-O-N-E-Y.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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