SBD/August 5, 2013/Facilities

DC Looks To Lure Redskins Back To The City With MLS' United Leaving RFK Stadium

RFK Stadium saw revenue of $4.1M in for FY '13, but had expenses of $5.3M
RFK Stadium operator Events DC said that it "plans to study options for replacing the stadium and redeveloping its 190-acre site" in light of MLS DC United's plans to open a new facility in '16, according to Mike DeBonis of the WASHINGTON POST. United's departure from RFK would "leave the authority without its main source of stadium revenue." Events DC President & CEO Gregory O'Dell said that the authority will "hire a firm in the coming months to evaluate options, with and without a stadium." O'Dell: "We’ll look at the as-is condition and what’s viable and financially feasible." DeBonis noted the RFK campus in FY '13 generated $4.1M in revenue for the authority, but $5.3M in expenses, and it "is not clear how much of that revenue comes from DC United’s rent." United's move would bring "significant questions" about RFK Stadium's future. The venue's fate also is "tied to the desire of several high-ranking city officials," including Mayor Vincent Gray, to "lure the Redskins back to the city as soon as the team’s lease on FedEx Field in Landover expires in 2026 -- if not sooner." Gray said of the RFK site, "I frankly think it would be a great site for a new football stadium. And not just for college games." Gray has "made a push for nearly two years to have the Redskins consider relocating their team headquarters and practice facility to a government-owned parcel south of the RFK campus." DC City Council member Jack Evans said of the RFK site, "It’s the number one site in my view to put a brand-new Redskins stadium. There’s nothing else you can do there" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/3).

THE PPL PARK PARADIGM: In DC, Julie Zauzmer wrote the MLS Union's PPL Park in Chester, Pa., can "serve as a model for what an intimate, waterfront stadium in a neglected part of town might do" for professional soccer in DC. Many fans and Chester residents "herald PPL Park as a gem among soccer-specific stadiums." PPL Park's "most obvious highlights" include an "expansive view of the Delaware River, real grass turf, seats close to the action, and clean, new facilities." But for all that Union fans "love about their team and its stadium, many are less enamored with its setting -- Chester, a city 15 miles south of Philadelphia with one of the worst poverty rates in the state." The stadium has "done little, they say, to improve the surrounding area." PPL Park Guest Services Supervisor Rob Strauss said, "In terms of bringing in new business, I don’t think it’s done much. Everyone’s just reluctant to go to Chester. No one’s going to say, ‘Let’s go to Chester for the night.'" But Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz said that "more than half of the team’s 650-person game-day workforce and 100-person permanent staff live in Chester." Sakiewicz: "We haven’t given up on the vision of creating mixed-use development around the stadium. That vision and dream still exist. Those plans are still there" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/4).
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