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DC is better off without Redskins stadium or practice fields

Changes may be coming to the location of facilities for 2 DC-area sports teams, the Redskins and DC United. But while soccer is getting the cold shoulder, leaders are trying to entice a football team that won't help DC at all. They'd do more to help DC by urging the Redskins to keep their practice facilities and stadium away.

Photo by jeffl8n on Flickr.

DC United Major League Soccer is surveying fans to see how they'd feel about the team moving to Baltimore. DC united has long been unhappy with RFK Stadium, and considered several DC sites, but always needed the District to provide some public assistance, at least to fund associated infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Mayor Gray and Councilmembers Jack Evans and Michael Brown took a secret trip to Tampa to visit the Buccaneers' practice facilities. Mike DeBonis reports that "the current thinking" is to take about half of the 50-acre Hill East planned development for a Redskins practice facility, then build a new stadium once the Redskins' lease in Landover expires in 2027.

Not only would spending any taxpayer money on this scheme be extremely foolish, it's a bad idea even if the Redskins bought the land at market value and financed everything themselves, which they surely don't actually plan to do. In fact, having any Redskins facilities or stadium anywhere inside the District would be harmful to its future.

As DeBonis notes, Hill East, aka Reservation 13, is slated to become a mixed-use community with access to Metro on one side and the river on the other. Progress has been stalled due to the economy, but the economy will pick up, and the District needs to be thinking long term.

A practice facility occupies an enormous amount of land but employs or houses very few people. DC needs more taxpaying residents and more jobs, not big practice fields, weight rooms, and gyms for a small number of athletes. Maybe a couple rich ones will live in DC and bring their taxes, but how many really might? If they want to live in an urban area, they already can live here; if they don't, they won't anyway.

DeBonis suggests using some of the huge parking lots, which sit on federal land designated exclusively for recreation. But even this is a bad use of space. We could build playing fields for our residents and schools instead. There's already a skate park going into this area; suggestions from a recent Capital Business forum included adding a velodrome or rock climbing.

It's also worth thinking about the long term. Some of this land should become an extension of Capitol Hill, and 20 years from now, the feds might be willing to accommodate that. A 2006 NCPC study looked at the site, and suggested some mixed-use development and waterfront parks, along with sites for those memorials and museums every interest group wants to build these days.

DC's competitive advantage (and Arlington's) compared to the suburbs is that living in those jurisdictions is much more convenient. Most jobs are in DC and Arlington, and being central, they're mathematically closer to jobs in other jurisdictions than living anywhere else.

Transportation options are more numerous; there are more Metro lines, more bus options, and you're much more likely to be able to bike or even walk to work. More retail is within a short walk or bike or transit ride.

On the other hand, land is scarce; DC only has 68.3 square miles (and Arlington 26). Therefore, DC's best strategy is to use its limited space to attract as many residents and taxpaying jobs (not government and nonprofits) as it can. Football does neither of these.

Football teams only play in their stadiums 8 regular home games per year. Add a few other events, and it's still empty almost all the time. But when it's full, huge numbers of people come at once, and many will drive, requiring massive parking surrounding the stadium. Plus, football has a strong tailgating tradition, meaning people want those parking lots.

Dan Snyder, the Redskins owner, also makes a lot of money from that parking. He makes so much that he tried to charge people an extra fee to get into the stadium if they don't park, but rather walk in or come by shuttle from Metro. And he filed a high-profile nuisance lawsuit against one of DC's most valuable media organizations. So why are any DC leaders spending time on accommodating the Redskins?

Soccer, on the other hand, frequently uses urban stadiums worldwide that don't need much or even any parking. A DC stadium could be quite urban in its form. It hosts more games than football, though still far fewer than a baseball stadium or basketball/hockey/concert arena.

Advocates for a deal to keep United in DC say a soccer stadium will bring in economic development around the site, especially if it's at Buzzard Point, where 2 streetcar lines are planned to terminate. It'd be great to have United there, though the District still shouldn't spend any appreciable public dollars on it.

Mayor Gray tweeted, "We value DC United & hope they stay in DC. But District is in a challenging fiscal environment now & publicly funded stadium not possible." Gray (or his media team) emphasized in follow-ups that "no public $ has been expended on Redskins either," and, "Once again, we've put nothing on the table for Redskins."

Gray should hold that line and never offer anything to the Redskins. We can be sure that Evans and probably Michael Brown would love to, though. Evans even claims to be maniacally focused on keeping the District's budget lean, but has a giant blind spot when it comes to giving money to organized sports (or, for that matter, almost any development project, though at least those purport to bring in more tax revenue than the tax break is worth).

DC residents are better off with the Redskins in Prince George's County than inside the District borders. As this year's Council campaign heats up, voters should ask candidates if they believe in spending any public money on football, and be very wary of any candidate who says yes.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Well put, David. I live across the street for Reservation 13, and football is a poor choice for all the reasons you listed.

I find it interesting that the Mayor and Councilmember Evans and Brown are working on this behind the scenes. Have they talked to Councilmember Alexander, who will shortly be Res 13's CM. How about Councilmember Wells, the current CM and who will still represent the overwhelming number of residents that live in the vicinity? I'd ask those two to comment, but as this is obviously a non-starter of a deal, they may just be ignoring it.

Or maybe we can propose a training facility in Ward 2 or Chevy Chase?

by Tim Krepp on Nov 4, 2011 11:04 am • linkreport

I think this should be seen for what it is. The Mayor being seen as "doing something" in the face of his generally aimless leadership and sagging poll numbers. The same sort of shenanigans surround the perpetually stalled Skyland development EOTR. The Mayor must be seen as "doing something," which usually translates as "blowing smoke."

by Paulus on Nov 4, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport

I sure would like to see DC United stay but not at public expense.The comment about developers is apt.Many here applaud Douglas Development however the latest development deal to provide prime real estate to the American association of Medical Colleges bounded by 7th st NW, New York Ave NW and K St NW just means another chunk of valuable DC real estate moves to tax exempt status. This like a new football stadium or practice facility really just makes ourtax burden worse as we the taxpayers have to maintain public roads ans supply police , fire and ems services.

by Dan Maceda on Nov 4, 2011 11:13 am • linkreport

I feel a whole lot more sympathetic tward DC United than I do toward the Landover Redskins.

DC United are one of the only teams that have ever felt like they were truly "our own." I really don't want to see them run out of town.

We don't need or want Hill East to turn into The Meadowlands. Massive and sparsely-used stadia and sports comlpexes are pretty much the one thing I wholeheartedly support putting outside of the urban core. (On the other hand, keep the smaller ballparks and stadia in the city; those do actually contribute to the urban fabric)

Although this extends far beyond DC, we could also have the discussion that Football in its current incarnation is fundamentally flawed.

  • Stadiums need to be huge. Why do they need to be huge?
  • Only a handful of games are played every year. Why does each team only play a few games?
  • Because if we pushed them much harder, the players would literally die. Why can't we change this?
  • Teams are literally required by the NFL to be owned by a small circle of billionaires, and are accordingly unresponsive to normal demands from the public.

I could go on, but you get the point.

There are simply too many 'WTFs' about modern football for us to continue playing it like we do for much longer.

(And, yeah. I'm a Packers fan, largely for this reason. In my mind, their team represents what Football could and should be. Okay, really, I'd rather see us play Rugby, which is a lot more fun to watch, but if we're not going to change sports.....I'm drifting off topic here, aren't I?)

by andrew on Nov 4, 2011 11:14 am • linkreport

Thank you, David - VERY well said. This is an absolutely terrible idea (bringing the (racist name) football team back in any way to the District) and all talk around it should be immediately scrapped. The potential for that area - from the South to North - is just incredible (especially could you imagine if they ever separate the Blue line and have a Metro stop at Okie Ave?) and would be a terrible - TERRIBLE - waste on football.

As for a new stadium for DC United, I'm agnostic; I would support it if they could line up the finances and think it would be a great addition to the city. But if it requires tax dollars and people vote that down and the team moves to Baltimore, would I be upset? - probably not.

by Shipsa01 on Nov 4, 2011 11:16 am • linkreport

Ok, David. Nice point. However, what about PG County? Doesn't the same apply to them? You named this site Greater Greater Washington. That includes PG County...

by Jasper on Nov 4, 2011 11:18 am • linkreport

Agree on all points. The redevelopment of H st is beginning to reach Benning Road. What we need is more (affordable) housing, more retail, more office space.

by LoLo on Nov 4, 2011 11:20 am • linkreport

@ andrew:I'm a Packers fan, largely for this reason. In my mind, their team represents what Football could and should be.

You'd like DC to buy the Redskins and use it as a massive jobs project? Cuz that's what would happen. The DC council would never let an opportunity pass by to change the volunteerism into Barry-job machine.

by Jasper on Nov 4, 2011 11:21 am • linkreport

RFK's parking lots aren't necessarily suitable for lots of development. Reservation 13 is actually on land, but most of RFK's lots are filled in marshes along the Anacostia. That's the kind of land that might not be suitable for lots of development, unlike Res 13.

I do think that Lot 3 (to the north of the Armory) would be a good site for a DC United stadium. I also think that DCU would want more practice fields as well - the key difference is that DCU's academy system is almost by definition a more public use of space than anything the Redskins would offer.

The real issue is control of the land. RFK is federally owned but locally controlled (at least within the current stadium) for no good reason except that the stadium predates home rule. This kind of anachronistic governance serves no one well.

by Alex B. on Nov 4, 2011 11:21 am • linkreport

I am a DC United ticket holder for the past 5 seasons and huge MLS (as well as international leagues) fan and I can tell you they will lose at least me as a lifelong fan. Staying in DC or a suburb that is metro accessible is critical to their success as a franchise, I hope they make the right choice and the District does too by keeping them in our city. Also they probably will average 24-30 games a season at home if they do well between us open cup, reg. Season and mls playoffs plus ccl dates so this is far more than football and would be able to support many other events as well as probably a good integration into the surrounding area

by Ryan Keefe on Nov 4, 2011 11:22 am • linkreport

Good posting David. I've always found it pretty offensive how DC seems to be willing to bend over backwards to bring in sports stadiums. An entire entertainment district got bulldozed the last time around simply to give a few sports fans a highly subsidized ballpark. Not only does it not make economic sense, but is blatantly unfair.

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 11:42 am • linkreport

In the immortal words of Bobbi Flekman, money talks.

by Lou on Nov 4, 2011 11:43 am • linkreport

While I agree that DC should not exert really any effort trying to woo some Redskins facility into the city, I would be fine with them building in one of the northern RFK parking lots. It would probably be an acceptable use right now and there's still plenty of room for the other ideas. And if in 20 years NPS thinks it's OK to build something not sports related on the property, by then it's not inconceivable that the Redskins would be ready to move that facility again, so it wouldn't necessarily block any redevelopment in the long term.

by Steven Yates on Nov 4, 2011 11:45 am • linkreport

sorry, but I grew up cheering the skins as their charter bus rode past our house to the stadium- for you newcomers- this was quite a big deal to us who are from here. Now days I have little use for the redskins- as their owners moved them out of the city to landrover, so we call them the PG redskins. I would not mind t if Snyder would build a beautiful and architecturally nice looking stadium- in place of that brutalist abberation they call RFK- and it would certainly add to the look of the city -especially for those coing in by plane. RFK is a butt ugly looking thing- it is as bad as the MLK Library or the FBI building. This is the Capital of the USA- any stadium built int he city along significant sight lines should have well thought out and beautiful, permenant and quality construction. I for one would welcome the Redskins back to their original home no matter what you hipster newcomers think.How is 5 generations of native DC fans for you guys? I bet you have never even met someone born in DC.....

by w on Nov 4, 2011 11:45 am • linkreport

Absolutely no respect for the city or its residents. Just the other day in the Post, I read about how black residents tend to be fans of the 'Skins to a much higher degree than white residents.


Many of you probably don't even remember the 'Skins playing in RFK (since you're all new to our city). This is just more of the same; you guys move in and want to tell us what we can and can't have in our city.

Let's see in 10 years when half of you have kids how many of you are still living in DC and how many of you have quietly slipped away to Fairfax County so your kids can go to "better school". Well let me tell you: I'll still be in DC, and so will my kids and their grand-kids.


by long-time resident on Nov 4, 2011 11:49 am • linkreport

amen know what i'm talking about

by long-time resident on Nov 4, 2011 11:50 am • linkreport

@w, Don't worry we won't hold it against you that you are the last in a long line of folks afraid to venture out and experience the world. Fortunately DC is graced with people who've lived everywhere and can help tap their experiences to make a better place. And you can come along for the ride ... at no cost!

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 11:51 am • linkreport

The funny thing is that you're vote doesn't count any more just because you've lived here longer. A resident is a resident is a resident.

by 7r3y3r on Nov 4, 2011 11:52 am • linkreport

The survey doesn't say anything about DC United in particular. It's looking at "the viability of the market as a potential future home of an MLS club.”-Russ Findley-MLS Chief Marketing Officer.

by thump on Nov 4, 2011 11:53 am • linkreport


by 7r3y3r on Nov 4, 2011 11:53 am • linkreport

I like how your definition of "a few sports fans" is 1.9 million (Nats 2011 attendance).

How much do you want to bet as a "newcomer" I haven't met someone born in DC?

@long-time resident
I think the question is what are you willing to give up (in terms of taxes and government programs) to lure the Skins back within the city limits. Getting the Skins back to DC will make getting the Nationals look like a bargain.

by Steven Yates on Nov 4, 2011 11:54 am • linkreport


Let's not be naive about that survey.

by Alex B. on Nov 4, 2011 11:54 am • linkreport

All we have to do is look at where the ballpark is now and ask ourselves 'from the DC citizens' perspective, are we better off now than we were before?" ... I think the answer is an unequival NO .. unless you think more non-descript office buildings and a stadium serving mainly suburbanites is what DC is for ...

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

Oh, and DC United didn't send out the survey, MLS did.

by thump on Nov 4, 2011 11:58 am • linkreport

I'm a lifelong Redskins fan and think that having the Redskins in the DC area brings a great deal of intangible value. Being a football fan and watching games on TV is one of the great low/no cost forms of entertainment and a sports team creates a lot of regional unity and sense of identity.

That said, the sports stadium itself is never worth the money for any single jurisdiction. Better to free ride off some other jurisdiction's foolish decision to finance a stadium and enjoy most of the benefits of having a team for comparably little cost. Sure you miss out on some niceties like seeing the team bus roll by on their way to the game, but that's just a tiny part of the enjoyment of being a fan.

As for a practice facility, it's comparably intensive land use for a place like Ashburn. Not so much for DC.

by Falls Church on Nov 4, 2011 12:02 pm • linkreport

@Alex B.- I don't think it's being naive. While I do think there is a strong possibility that DC United has pushed this, soccer in Baltimore is fairly popular. They already have an indoor team, the Blast, that has high attendance figures. It just might make economic sense for MLS to add another East Coast team. Assuming United stays in DC, it could be a great rivalry.

by thump on Nov 4, 2011 12:02 pm • linkreport


I was born in Washington DC. I grew up inside the Beltway. I live in Eckington. I was and still am a Redskins fan. And I think it would be an abomination to put build another FedEx field on the RFK site for a myriad of reasons.

I appreciate you calling out people's general disdain for what is a cultural icon for this city. I think the Redskins are very much a part of the city's culture, character and identity, and I get annoyed to see ire towards the team's place in the metro area (unless, of course it is directed at Dan Snyder). I would like to see the team move from Landover, preferably somewhere closer to a Metro station, possibly in the District or closer in, but definitely not on the RFK site.

by Dave Murphy on Nov 4, 2011 12:03 pm • linkreport

I can't believe I'm doing this but:
What? Given the choice you'd rather have Near SE back to what it was like before the Ballpark?

Once the economy improves I'm sure we'll see that area really flourish.

by Steven Yates on Nov 4, 2011 12:04 pm • linkreport

Until the Washington football team changes their name and given the history of awful ownership from a racist Marshall down to a bitter and petty Snyder, no DC politician should do anything for that organization.

And for all the old-timers, this isn't like the Colts when they moved from Balt. to Indy in the middle of the night. They moved from Eastern DC to Western PG County, about 7 miles away. And they would still be Metro accessible if it wasn't for their new owner.

by Shipsa01 on Nov 4, 2011 12:05 pm • linkreport

Stop being such a jerk Winston, I lived in DC for all of my life until last month, and I intend on moving back after a year on a political campaign, and it will be my home for many years to come. Just because I don't like the Redskins, their owner or anything that they stand for doesn't mean I am any less of a DC resident. I feel pride every time I see DC United play or the Caps, and I too will probably send my kids one day to school in DC. I don't want the SKins in DC, I don't want a stadium that is unused for 355 days of the year and I don't want my tax dollars going towards that or anything else that has to do with Dan Snyder. Also higher incomes and "better jobs" have absolutely nothing to do with preference for a football team.

by Ryan Keefe on Nov 4, 2011 12:05 pm • linkreport

Interesting how a few folks will use the "I've lived here longer" card in the absence of any kind of good argument in favor of bringing that racist-named football team to DC. I appreciate David putting the case so well; there is simply no argument--economic, quality of life or otherwise--for bringing that team back, it's just a vanity project for a couple of sleazy council members.

And before a few folks start claiming to speak for all native Washingtonians, there are PLENTY who don't want that team back in DC and would rather we do positive things to support our community and build DC back to something great, rather than throw money at some spoiled, rich outsider (ahem, Dan Snyder) who don't care at all about DC.

by Joe on Nov 4, 2011 12:06 pm • linkreport

@Dan Murphy I think the Redskins are very much a part of the city's culture, character and identity,

I know far more Virginians that 'associate' with this Maryland team than I do DC people. (And many of these people don't even like DC.)

I've never known the Redskins as anything by a Maryland team and I'd say that's true for the vast majority of DC residents. The fact they aren't considered a DC team is of their own making. They made their bed when they moved out of here many years ago, now let them lie in it. Only a fool would even consider giving even a cent to a team which clearly made their thoughs on DC known by moving out as they did. And the folks like w who remember them driving by in their charter bus should remember they used those same charter buses to get the hell out of dodge. They wanted to be a Maryland team ... and that's what they are now. And actually, I really have a hard time thinking of any DC resident I know who really cares the slightest about what they do ... No, let's not give them our hard earned tax dollars. And for those of you which miss them ... the door to follow them out is always open. Just don't let it slap you on the way out ...

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 12:11 pm • linkreport

@ Steven What? Given the choice you'd rather have Near SE back to what it was like before the Ballpark?

SE was a gay entertainment district known throughout the nation ... People would come from eveywhere to enjoy its caberet clubs and nightclubs. And it was known as being 'better than LA or NY' for what it had to offer ... And with the stroke of a pen it got bulldozed to give a few sportsfan a place to build a stadium. Propose bulldozing Adams Morgan for a similar purpose and you'd have had a revolution on your hands. But Evans thought it was okay to bulldoze SE. I generally support him and his actions, but he really messed up on this one.

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 12:17 pm • linkreport

Stop it! I want to get off! I'm agreeing with Lance all over the place here!

Well, maybe not so much as I think the Nat's ballpark and surrounding area is a work in progress and will be much better off than it was before, but about all the rest, I'm with you.

by Tim Krepp on Nov 4, 2011 12:17 pm • linkreport

@Lance - I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the Redskins. They left the city in an attempt to block Baltimore from getting a team. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Baltimore knew that ploy would never work. Like all NFL franchises but one (The People's Champions - the Green Bay Packer), the Redskins will always misuse their fans' loyalty to extort money from DC, MD, or VA to get a stadium that they can build themselves.

As for the baseball stadium, it is ugly, but over time, it will improve that neighborhood far more than would have been the case if it was not built.

by The Heights on Nov 4, 2011 12:24 pm • linkreport

I too find myself agreeing with a lot of what Lance is saying. Is today April 1?

I remember a few years ago talking to someone in a Cowboys jacket who was from the District and he said: "the (racist name) are for the folks from Virginia and South. The District's team is America's Team: the Cowboys."

And as someone who grew up in Jersey as a Jets fan (sidebar - still thankful NYC did NOT build the Jets stadium in Manhattan) I found that statement to be quite interesting.

by Shipsa01 on Nov 4, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

All of this discussion is predicated on the idea that the Redskins want to move either their stadium or practice facility. I simply don't think that they do.

The Redskins are among the most valuable sports franchises in the United States. Despite on-field performance, they are doing very, very, very, well financially. They own the Ashburn facility outright, and have shown under Snyder no real desire to put any money into it (like an indoor facility), so why would they make the even more expensive decision to move? Besides, anything DC can offer them in terms of taxes or other incentives, would be matched by Loudon County and Virginia.

As for FedEx Field, the location may suck, but it doesn't keep people from going there and paying Snyder's parking fees. Attendance for the Redskins is incredible given their lack of recent (or more than recent) success. Sure the waiting list is a myth, and they converted some of the upper deck seats into a "party deck," but they are still drawing over 90k per game for a terrible team. This isn't a Jacksonville situation.

By the way, Lance, the idea that the vast majority of DC residents consider the Redskins a "Maryland Team" is absurd. For most of the Redskins' history they played in DC while there was a competing team in Baltimore! If anything, the history of the Redskins shows a fan base that extended well into the Carolinas, south of DC, not north. Jack Kent Cooke, by the way, wanted to stay in DC. Marion Barry wouldn't play ball. He then wanted to move to Potomac Yards, but Alexandria would rather have traffic jams every weekend going into a shopping center rather than 8 times a year for football games. That pretty much left Maryland as the only option.

by seaster on Nov 4, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

I wonder whether some of the ire is more about "this" football team as opposed to a football team's training facility in general?

Also, is the argument that DC is in such dire need of residential tax base and jobs that we can't afford a training facility or simply that we can do something better with the space? Those two aren't necessarily the same.

I don't know if it's such a hoorrrrible idea as some of you suggest but while a training facility isn't at the top of my list, I'm not certain we shouldn't seriously consider it and whether the players live in DC shouldn't be a serious question - at least it isn't for our baseball team whose players, as I understand, also don't live in DC. Hell, who does nowadays...:(

@Lance, An entire entertainment district got bulldozed the last time around simply to give a few sports fans a highly subsidized ballpark.

What entertainment district are you referring to. Well if bathouses, drug havens (Nations), rundown gov't projects, and unused industrial disctricts are your thing..then I understand your concern.

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2011 12:27 pm • linkreport

I do think that many people don't appreciate how area residents love football (especially the deadskins) and would imagine time in the city does skew our views

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

@long time resident: I can guarantee you dropping a bag of city cash into the maw of a new Redskins stadium is going to make the prospect of DC public schools being suitable for educating anyone's children a shaky one. There's no way that a Redskins stadium is not publicly funded - maybe the city would be able to get Snyder to agree to some form of financing that could be passed off as 'private' financing, but it would be a fig leaf at best. Snyder knows that there's useful fools like Gray and Evans who would gladly mortgage the city's future in exchange for taking credit for 'bringing the Skins home!', and he'll take them for everything we've got. We're already hamstrung by the bad deal that was cut on the baseball stadium, and bringing the Redskins back is going to cripple us financially for a generation.

by Joshua on Nov 4, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

The foundry at the Yards, the first residential phase, is 50% leased out and first residents coming in a couple of months IIUC, the first retail/restaurant building is leased up and an on its way soon, and the next residential phase is breaking ground. The riverfront park looks great. The transformation of Near SE is one of the drivers of the transformation of Anacostia.

Thats already happening NOW.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 4, 2011 12:40 pm • linkreport

Guess I got here too late before the interlopers started with their unfounded claims that "Redskin" is a racist name.

by TGEOA on Nov 4, 2011 12:42 pm • linkreport

TGEOA - I'm not sure where you're going with this one. Is it because the Supreme Court didn't hear their case? Or do you think the word "redskin" isn't racist and offensive?

by Shipsa01 on Nov 4, 2011 12:47 pm • linkreport

I have to ask a dumb question. What technical, political and legal reasons are there for not having them share Nat's park? I'm sure there is something, but I haven't been able to reason out exactly what.

by Michael on Nov 4, 2011 12:48 pm • linkreport

Easy solution--let the Redskins build their new stadium in the District and practice facilities, and even give them a nice tax break--in exchange for keeping every single ticket price for the duration of their stay in D.C. down to $10 a pop.

Otherwise, screw it--why subsidize something only the wealthy can enjoy???

by Brando on Nov 4, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash: I do understand how much people love the Redskins, but that's really beside the point, isn't it? We're talking about the best use of a limited resource relative to the city as a whole. RFK and it's environs is the biggest chunk of DC that's available for large-scale development, and there's no way to build either a new stadium or a practice facility that doesn't involve a significant opportunity cost. Even if a practice facility could be built cheaply, at no cost to the city, and with no city-funded improvements to the road or services, the amount of land that it would use up and the length of the lease would preclude anything other than piecemeal development for a generation. Once we turn over any part of Hill East to the Skins, we are effectively giving up master control for what we want to do with Hill East - any master plan would have to deal with the fact that there was a vast multi-acre empty spot smack in the middle. Want to build high-density? Too bad. Want to build an urban soccer stadium? Too bad. Want to build new memorials or museums? Too bad. There's a practice field already there.

by Joshua on Nov 4, 2011 12:51 pm • linkreport

What technical, political and legal reasons are there for not having them share Nat's park?

With multi-purpose stadiums, you end up with a facility that isn't ideal for either sport. In this era of needing to spend big to attract pro sports teams, a facility that is less than ideal won't cut it.

Details on the problems of multi-sport stadiums:

by Falls Church on Nov 4, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport


There are a few reasons:
Dual use baseball/football stadiums have fallen out of fashion. One reason is that it necessitates design compromises that gives both arrangements worse seats than if it were in a single use facility. Scheduling can also become difficult. I'm sure there are also financial reasons why it makes sense for each team to be in separate facilities.

So Nationals Park was built as a pure baseball stadium. You might not even be able to fit a football field in it (though maybe you could, I don't think they've tried). As for use as an NFL stadium, it would seat nearly 20,000 fewer people than the smallest NFL stadium and it's only half the size of FedEx Field.

by Steven Yates on Nov 4, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport


Stadium or no, they should build a new armory away from the metro and tear down that piece of crap and put up something more useful in it's place.

by TGEOA on Nov 4, 2011 12:59 pm • linkreport

Just want to point out that the amount of years someone has lived somewhere, does not make their opinion more or less relevant.

by Jasper on Nov 4, 2011 1:04 pm • linkreport

So because something is "acceptable," it now means it's right? I can think of a few terms from our not-too-distant past that were "acceptable" to use to describe certain people. I don't think anyone would use any of them today - whether they're describing blacks, Jews, Italians, Irish, gays, Asians, whomever.

So why is it any different for Native Americans?

by Shipsa01 on Nov 4, 2011 1:06 pm • linkreport


I've heard plenty of derogatory terms used for those groups. I've never once heard or heard or of anyone referring to an Indian as a Redskin as a negative or positive term.

As a Jew, i wouldn't get my panties in a bunch if someone named a team the Manhattan Macabees or the Delaware Davids.

by TGEOA on Nov 4, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

@Michael, do you watch football? I would imagine it would be challenging for a baseball team to practice at a football stadium or vice versa. By design...Baseball stadiums are diamonds while footballs stadiums are not.

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2011 1:21 pm • linkreport

Oh and I didn't ask that to be snarky.

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2011 1:25 pm • linkreport

I think you can technically fit a football field into Nationals Park. There was some talk of having the first couple "Eagle Bank/Military Bowls" there, but they went with RFK instead. Much like the bowl game played in the SF Giants stadium or the new Yankee Stadium. But that would be a one-off game at best, with very limited attendance, very poor sight lines for many fans, and maybe even oddities like both teams on the same sideline, or like last year's Wrigley Field football game, only one usable end zone. In other words, you might be able to play a "Who-Cares Bowl" featuring two college football bottom feeders in Nats Park, but you can't play NFL football there.

I believe that there are only two NFL teams that currently share stadiums with baseball teams, Miami and Oakland and the Miami situation will change next year when the new Marlins stadium opens. The big multi-purpose "Cookie Cutter" stadium (RFK, Busch Stadium I, the Vet, Three Rivers, etc) is thankfully a thing of the past.

by seaster on Nov 4, 2011 1:44 pm • linkreport

Point of Order: Jack Kent Cooke's first choice for a new stadium was Potomac Yards in Alexandria. But Alexandria being Alexandria torpedoed that idea and he went to PG.

by RJ on Nov 4, 2011 1:49 pm • linkreport

"As a Jew, i wouldn't get my panties in a bunch if someone named a team the Manhattan Macabees or the Delaware Davids."

The Washington NoForeSkins?

See Redskins is a physical reference. Its NOT the same as Braves, say.

Don't be a nar.

by kleptinKop on Nov 4, 2011 1:54 pm • linkreport

I too have a hard time understanding why Indians would be offended by the name 'Redskins'. If anything, it really should be viewed as a tribute to the people who inhabited this land before the current civilization. And it's not like acknowledging that their skin is red is a bad thing. It is.

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 2:08 pm • linkreport


I don't think it's being naive. While I do think there is a strong possibility that DC United has pushed this, soccer in Baltimore is fairly popular.

I do.

Remember that MLS is a single entity league. The individual teams are just sub-parts of the single league organization. Players sign contracts with the league, not the team - and they are allocated to a team. For business purposes, there is no difference between MLS and DC United. That survey came about because DCU needs a stadium.

MLS has been discussing expansion, but Baltimore has never come up except in the context of DCU moving.

It's not that hard to connect the dots. RFK is economically obsolete. That's why both the Redskins and Nationals left. Furthermore, the organizational structure (where DCU leases the stadium from Events DC) means that the team doesn't get much revenue from parking or concessions.

So, combine a stadium that struggles to generate revenue with the fact that the team only gets a small portion of the revenue it does generate, and you've got a recipe for trouble.

by Alex B. on Nov 4, 2011 2:10 pm • linkreport

just to clarify: is IS red ... as in white people's skin is white and black people's is black ... in general terminology. I.e., I doubt anyone's skin is the color of a sheet of paper for example.

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 2:10 pm • linkreport

Just FYI, "R*****n" is considered by most Native Americans and many others to be an ethnic slur, similar to "N****r" for African Americans, or "K**e" for Jews.

Many people make the argument that it's a tribute or speaks to some kind of "noble savage" ideal (which is generally just a red herring). Those are almost never the people who are actually affected by the use of that word. It's real easy for a white person (or anyone not of the group being disparaged) to say something's not racist, but ultimately it's not up to them. It's about how that language is felt by the group being disparaged. Even if no racist intent is present, there can still be a severe and negative impact.

by Joe on Nov 4, 2011 2:17 pm • linkreport


Except it's not considered offensive by most Native Americans:

by Steven Yates on Nov 4, 2011 2:27 pm • linkreport

This discussion has been going on for years now. I wrote about it four years ago when we made the mistake of building Nationals Park completely with public money. Let's hope we don't make the same mistake again.

by Brian Vargas on Nov 4, 2011 2:30 pm • linkreport

do you find it offensive or no. No could mean "its not on my radar, I dont care" No evidence that they think its something "noble" or even not a slur.

A shvach poll like that, versus the complaints of leaders, I will take the poll results with a grain of salt.

by kleptinkop on Nov 4, 2011 2:32 pm • linkreport

"I too have a hard time understanding why Indians would be offended by the name 'Redskins'. If anything, it really should be viewed as a tribute to the people who inhabited this land before the current civilization. And it's not like acknowledging that their skin is red is a bad thing. It is. "

dude. My nose actually is big. Now in a discussion of ME politics, I would point out that large noses are an evolutionary adaptation to arid climates, and my shnozz is evidence that my ancestors DID hail from the desert before arrival in Poland, and yeah we DO have a claim to the land of Israel as indigenes.

But some goy names a team the "big shnozzes" and uses Jewish symbols and stuff, you bet your foreskin Im gonna be offended.

by kleptinKop on Nov 4, 2011 2:36 pm • linkreport

The city should not be paying for anything that does not benefit the city and its residents under any circumstances.

Let the teams leave, it makes no difference its not like the city must have a sports team.

The site would be better as housing, retail(that the area actually needs) and a hospital not some damn stadium or practice area for any team when that does nothing to actually help the residents around there.

by kk on Nov 4, 2011 2:37 pm • linkreport

The Redskins and DC United should both be in DC. I don't know what the big deal is with the practice facility, but I don't see why we can create some sort of public-private partnership with respect to sports venues. I don't know what the hell people are talking about when they insinuate that the Redskins is a Maryland team and that DC residents don't care about them.

by Vik on Nov 4, 2011 2:41 pm • linkreport

@kk: re: "...not some damn stadium or practice area for any team when that does nothing to actually help the residents around there"

Just as a passing note, DC United's Clyde Simms actually lives a few blocks away from RFK, so there's at least one neighborhood resident who benefits directly from having a DC United stadium in the neighborhood:


by Joshua on Nov 4, 2011 2:52 pm • linkreport


The Redskins and DC United should both be in DC. I don't know what the big deal is with the practice facility, but I don't see why we can create some sort of public-private partnership with respect to sports venues.

Two things. First, "Why?"

Second, the big deal isn't with a practice facility per se, it's with adding yet another large institution that adds little to the District tax base. We've got enough untaxable patches of land in DC. We need more individual taxpayers, small retail, and institutions that are willing to pay their way.

Creating a massive complex which would serve essentially as a monument to "The Redskins" is frankly short-sighted and silly.

by oboe on Nov 4, 2011 2:55 pm • linkreport

I too have a hard time understanding why Indians would be offended by the name 'Redskins'. If anything, it really should be viewed as a tribute to the people who inhabited this land before the current civilization. And it's not like acknowledging that their skin is red is a bad thing. It is.

Hold on a sec.

**clickity click**

Okay, just calibrating my "Lance-O-Meter" here. Carry on.

by oboe on Nov 4, 2011 2:57 pm • linkreport

I just love the usual suspect, the anti-sports crowds that put forth the same arguments everytime a community is looking to build sports complexes, stadiums, or arenas. And all of the complaints about them simply do not hold water.

Everywhere it has been done, with modern stadiums, it has been a huge success. It has revitalized neighborhoods, increased tax bases, increased foot traffic, caused the opening of numerous other related businesses nearby, and so on.

It has saved the downtowns in Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, and even in DC with the Verizon Center and National's ballpark completely changing previously dead areas of town.

If you build it like Landover or Meadowlands or the Pontiac Silverdome, all you get is acres of parking lots. but if you build it within the city and smartly, it transforms things. Go and visit places that have done this and you will see it first hand.

by Ray B on Nov 4, 2011 2:59 pm • linkreport

Not only is it short-sighted and silly - it's pointless and would be a HUGE missed opportunity. This would be one of the biggest mistakes the administration or Council could make. So I guess that just means that it's going to happen. Sigh

by Shipsa01 on Nov 4, 2011 2:59 pm • linkreport

As much as I love the Washington Football team, the idea of giving this owner any sort of community benefit (ie money/infrastructure etc) for the right to play 8-12 games a year with an occasional Super Bowl or NCAA Bowl game is silly.

DCU stadium, on the otherhand would be used for 30+ MLS games, international friendlies for both Men's and Women's teams, potential NCAA games and potential high school games. If DC get a women's team back, tehn one could easily be looking at 100 events a year, plus outdoor concerts.

by William on Nov 4, 2011 3:00 pm • linkreport

But Ray - do you think there's even 1 slight percent chance that Snyder would build anything that benefits the city over his wallet? Nope. First it's a practice facility, which is just silly. Second, it's used 8 times a year (since the football team will never make the playoffs), will sit vacant the other days and be seas of parking. Terrible.

by Shipsa01 on Nov 4, 2011 3:01 pm • linkreport

Two further quick points:

It has saved the downtowns in Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, and even in DC with the Verizon Center and National's ballpark completely changing previously dead areas of town.

I think you're mistaking correlation with causation. The Verizon Center no more "created" modern Penn Quarter than it created H Street's revitalization. Or Navy Yard. The massive influx of middle-class residents to DC did. Even if it did, a multi-use indoor arena like the VC is a completely different beast than a football stadium.

If you build it like Landover or Meadowlands or the Pontiac Silverdome, all you get is acres of parking lots. but if you build it within the city and smartly, it transforms things. Go and visit places that have done this and you will see it first hand.

I'm sure someone else has made this point, but I fail to see how the voters of DC should commit to a dead zone near the geographical heart of the city so that Landover won't be subjected to a "sea of parking lots." That's what the suburbs does very well, let's let them do it.

We'll hamstring DC's economic growth (which is already hamstrung by the Federal presence, lack of tax reciprocity, and urban/suburban policies) so we can pat ourselves on the backs for having "Brought the Redskins Home!"

It has everything to do with burgandy-and-gold fueled irrational exuberance, and is essentially public policy as crafted by a bunch of 10 year old fanboys wearing Rex Grossman jerseys.

Having said all that, my prediction is that this irrational policy will win out.

by oboe on Nov 4, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

@ Joshua

Okay than, any nearby residents not connected to the teams. If he was not apart of the team would he be living there ?

I cant think of one benefit to having the stadium there for the residents. Traffic (vehicle, pedestrian and transit) become horrible during game days, double parking, crowds disrespecting traffic laws (not respecting traffic lights),

Even if you dont reside in the local area that stadium still affects you. Benning RD and East Capitol would be backed up for miles during game days especially when the Redskins and Nationals were there causing issues to residents of areas not near the stadium.

In the case of public transportation, buses always had problems due to have to sit and wait with the game day traffic and trains would sit and wait for the crowds causing problems to riders not attending the game (just look at Navy Yard today, trains from Branch Ave would pull in to the station and wait for the train to fill cause delays for riders from stations south). Stadiums would be better off in non residential areas or areas with many ways to leave not on the shore of a river that limits you ways to get around it.

by kk on Nov 4, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

"I too have a hard time understanding why Indians would be offended by the name 'Redskins'. If anything, it really should be viewed as a tribute to the people who inhabited this land before the current civilization. And it's not like acknowledging that their skin is red is a bad thing. It is"

So it is alright to a call team the Blackskins, Brownies, Darkies, Palefaces, Whiteies, Yellowskins or anything else similar responding to any race on earth.

by kk on Nov 4, 2011 3:19 pm • linkreport

@kk: I guess the ';)' didn't communicate the offhand nature of my comment.


FWIW I think that a Redskins stadium would be a disaster for the district, no matter where it was placed for a number of reasons: direct costs, opportunity costs, disruption of the street grid, scale relative to the surrounding neighborhood, limited usage, etc. - I think all of these have been expressed upthread quite well.

A stadium for DC United, though, just considered on the urban aspect (i.e, leaving issues of financing out of it) could be quite complimentary to the area if developed smartly. If the district could get over its infatuation with the Skins and realize that Snyder's NEVER bringing the team back to DC short of us destroying Hill East and mortgaging our future, then it'd be a no-brainer to knock RFK down and build a jewel of a stadium as the centerpiece of the mixed use development that's already been mooted. As noted above, it would scale to the neighborhood, would require minimal parking, and would be used often enough to provide synergistic effects to the local economy.

Full disclosure: I live around the corner from Clyde Simms and am a DC United fan.

by Joshua on Nov 4, 2011 3:27 pm • linkreport

Just want to point out an urban soccer stadium (capacity 20,000) that the Portland Timbers uses:

This stadium is integrated with the street grid in downtown Portland and has no surface parking. It's a renovated incarnation of a pre-war stadium. Plenty of tax revenue and neighborhood vitality around it.

The Portland Timbers are in MLS, DC United's league.

MLS as a league has learned through trial and error that its does better in small stadiums (about 20,000 capacity, small enough to fit in 1-2 city blocks) stadiums in urban cores that are proximate to public transit. DC United has wanted to self-fund the stadium for over 10 years. They've only asked the government for municipal bonding (to get the better municipal rate; they'd still be on the hook to pay the bonds) and infrastucture like on an apartment or office building.

In the same time, the owner of the Redskins has gouged fans whenever possible, and launched a lawsuit against the City Paper. And the Gray Administration is ready to publically fund (not just issue bonds at a better interest rate but pay 100% for it like Nats Park) for a practice facility for the Redskins. How much sense does that make?!?!?!?

I'm partisan because I'm a DC United fan and a member of the Barra Brava. I also live in downtown Silver Spring so I technically don't have a say in D.C. government affairs. However, I can see fair and unfair. While that seldom has anything to do with anything in D.C. city government affairs, one would think that at least the dollars and cents arguments that David and I (in my post linked in the above piece) might make a difference.

by Cavan on Nov 4, 2011 3:33 pm • linkreport


You're not one of those myopic twittering tweeters, are ya?

by oboe on Nov 4, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

@oboe: Well, technically my eyesight is 20/20 and I don't actually use Twitter...


by Joshua on Nov 4, 2011 3:59 pm • linkreport

@kk So it is alright to a call team the Blackskins, Brownies, Darkies, Palefaces, Whiteies, Yellowskins or anything else similar responding to any race on earth.

Uh ... yeah ... And why shouldn't a race be proud of its color?

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 4:00 pm • linkreport

Welcome back Lance! I'm glad you got over your "making sense" illness.

by Joe on Nov 4, 2011 4:07 pm • linkreport

@Ray B. - I recommend that you read Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Stadiums do bring a lot of benefits to communities and cities, but those benefits are (a) generally overstated, and (b) outweighed by the public subsidy provided to build the stadium. I don't think the opponents are anti-sports, but rather against providing public funds for a private benefit.

by 7r3y3r on Nov 4, 2011 4:17 pm • linkreport

I think Lance has spent too much time watching the "classic" Disney version of Peter Pan.

by MLD on Nov 4, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

Whew. Thank god Lance is back. I was getting worried there.

by Tim Krepp on Nov 4, 2011 4:25 pm • linkreport

Remember what happened to Jose Guillen's wife/gf over on H Street? If the 'Skins come into the neighborhood they might need to be careful when they rub elbows with people inclined to make a move that can't be (challenge) flagged.

The efforts to lure the 'Skins back into the city is more a PR effort that any hard reality. They will live in VA or MD no matter where the facility is. And FedEx isn't going anywhere as the home field, it's still less than 20 years old.

by SE Scrapper on Nov 4, 2011 4:47 pm • linkreport

I hope the neighborhood is ok, SE Scrapper. My seven year old is outside right now playing in it.

by Tim Krepp on Nov 4, 2011 4:55 pm • linkreport

My guess is that a DC United stadium would 'cost' DC something like $25M in tax abatements, land, and/or government backing of a loan. It would probably be 2/3rds to 3/4ths paid for by the team. I put 'cost' in quotes because none of it would be in cash or direct paying for the construction of a stadium. So it would all depend on perceived opportunity cost of what else you think you can do with the land. (And, fwiw, there are plots of land around DC that I don't see much happening with unless the government took the lead on it.)

For a Snyderdome, you'd be talking about $500M-$1B, I would think. He's not going to move to DC to pay for it himself, nor to have a replica of FedEx built. It would be for the purpose of competing with Cowboys Stadium for a venue that could host Super Bowls. And one could argue the opportunity cost is also greater, because the enormous parking lot would tie up a lot more land.

by Sgc on Nov 4, 2011 5:08 pm • linkreport

@kk, So it is alright to a call team the Blackskins, Brownies, Darkies, Palefaces, Whiteies, Yellowskins or anything else similar responding to any race on earth.

In 2011, I don't think you will find any professional sports team willing or even having any interest in naming their team using commonly accepted racial terms. So no, there won't be any redneck, honkey, spic, kike or darkie references.

Would those in opposition to this nonproposal be considered NIMBY's? I mean some of u ARE saying NOT our backyards. Or does the term only apply when you like something others don't or aren't as amenable to?

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2011 5:12 pm • linkreport


by HogWash on Nov 4, 2011 5:12 pm • linkreport

BTW, does everyone here understand that we're talking about a nonproposal for a practice facility and not a football stadium?

I'm beginning to wonder whether this a strategic move to get the public riled up before there was any real consideration for building a facility in the first place.

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2011 5:15 pm • linkreport


The current practice facility is in Ashburn right? As far as I can tell no one in Loudoun County minds having them there. In that case, Im not sure this is NIMBYISM. Its not "I dont want put it somewhere else where they have less clout" its "It doesnt make sense here, why not leave it where people love it?"

Its more like a suburbanite opposing hi rises in non metro served suburbs, and wanting them in the urban core instead.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 4, 2011 5:20 pm • linkreport

The Deadskins can stay in PG County with their slimey owner. DC football fans often are loyal to their home teams and the Deadskins are not the kind of asset that other teams might be---keeping a stadium in the city would mean more in Baltimore, Cleveland, etc. The team survives because trade associations, law firms, etc. own a large proportion of the season tickets. A football stadium will not make a positive impact to the site--it won't draw traffic in a consistent way. I'm not sure soccer is the best use of the land either, but it makes more sense as a regular source of users which is what makes spaces attractive to the general public and safe.

by Rich on Nov 4, 2011 5:58 pm • linkreport

The Redskins first moved to Herndon in 1970(I think), then in 1992 moved farther out to Ashburn. At the time, the Herndon complex was the envy of the NFL (even featured in an old NFL films piece). It was basically designed by coach George Allan to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by tall trees, and on land controlled by the team. In those days, most NFL teams practiced either at their home stadium or at a local college, or in a few cases high school. Team offices, meeting rooms, etc, were all ad hoc. The public could pretty much wander into practice. I remember reading about how the Vince Lombardi's office with the Packers was in a downtown office building.

George Allen was notoriously paranoid about other teams stealing his ideas so he had Jack Kent Cooke build him a compound out in the sticks. They basically did the same thing again in 1992 with the move to Ashburn.

My understanding is that the Redskins own a ton of land around the Ashburn facility, but for some reason (Snyder being cheap) won't build an indoor practice facility. Nearly every NFL team, as well as nearly every major college team now has a place to practice indoors, but the most valuable team in the NFL doesn't. As bizarre as it sounds, the Redskins have actually held indoor practices at the Dulles Sportsplex! Where people play flag football!

In any case, I don't really think the Redskins are looking to move out of Ashburn, unless perhaps they could get a spot right next to FedEx Field and somehow not lose valuable parking lots. Either way, DC should stay out, and keep our tax money, out of this mess.

by seaster on Nov 4, 2011 6:03 pm • linkreport

I believe a indoor facility is now being built at the Ashburn site.

by RJ on Nov 4, 2011 11:25 pm • linkreport

Cavan, actually, Snyder has NOT gouged fans for money whenever possible: The Redskins are among the teams that do not make season ticket fans pay for "personal seat licenses."

To everyone else: the term 'redskins' is kinda weird, but 90% of Native Americans [now that the area has a lot of folks actually from India, we need to use this term] do NOT find the name offensive and it is used in Native America communities. It has nothing to do with scalps!

A 20,000 seat downtown stadium - with combo fake/real grass - could be shared with local gridiron footballs teams and used for other events relating to the inaugurals. Go for it! A nice, brick stadium.....

by Capt. Hilts on Nov 5, 2011 8:47 am • linkreport

The city better not lose DC United and if we do then full blame will be put on Mayor Gray

by Reality on Nov 5, 2011 9:43 am • linkreport

FWIW, many urban stadiums are sited and built in ways that are not "wildly" successful. Compare the placement of stadiums in Philadelphia or for the White Sox or for the Cleveland Browns or for Atlanta to truly downtown stadiums.

Plus, mostly, because they are used so infrequently, football stadiums don't have the kind of long term benefit that is claimed, and they contribute comparatively little in the way of economic benefits. The otherwise somewhat well sited football stadium in Baltimore is a good example.

This is why baseball stadiums and even soccer stadiums (which are sized well for concerts and such, unlike football stadiums) are better bets for public money, as odious as it is to me.

(And minor league baseball stadiums, while not perfect and with many failures, can be better sized and fitted into urban settings, and with frequent use, provide more spillover economic benefits, e.g., Memphis or Louisville).

WRT shared stadiums, while I think a design solution could be created, the real issue is that the owners don't want to share. In their own stadiums, they can keep all the revenues. They can't in shared situations. E.g., even the Capitals suffered by comparison to the Wizards in revenue maximization from the Verizon Center because they had a minority position vis-a-vis arena revenues, before common ownership was reinstated in the Leonsis group after the death of Abe Pollin and the sale of the Wizards and the arena.

The other thing about sharing economic benefits is that teams try to schedule events to minimize people's ability to spend money outside of the stadium.

Plus, the team owners-developers try to get site control around the stadium/arena to maximize their capture of more of the outside of stadium spending, e.g., the complex around the Patriots stadium, the Staples Center area in Los Angeles, and the AEG proposal for a new LA football stadium.

by Richard Layman on Nov 5, 2011 11:30 am • linkreport

I am a 7 or 8th generation Washingtonian...I and cringe when people start talking about the residency issue. If you live here, engage and vote you are DC. I grew up loving the Skins...Charlie Taylor, Jerry Smith, Len Haus, Sonny...all of those guys. But the PG Skins are not the same team or franchise many of us followed growing up. Snyder is an ass and the franchise is a laughing stock now. I am all for the city doing as much as possible to keep DC United...they are actually a DC team and proud of it. I go as many United games as I can but regularly turn down free tickets to the PG Skins. The last thing this city needs is an ugly gigantic stadium that snyder would insist on building.

by Ward1Always on Nov 5, 2011 12:15 pm • linkreport

I can understand the issues with Football and Baseball trying to share a stadium but with Football and Soccer the playing fields nearly the exact same size and shape. Why can't the United and Redskins share a facility? Would the schedules not be compatible or something?

by Doug on Nov 5, 2011 3:13 pm • linkreport


The issue with and MLS team and an NFL team sharing a stadium I think is primarily financial. A smaller stadium makes more sense for MLS and probably provides a better atmosphere than if they played in an NFL stadium. Obviously it's not impossible to play soccer in an NFL stadium, in fact it happens fairly frequently (things like international friendlies and US National team games).

by Steven Yates on Nov 5, 2011 3:21 pm • linkreport

@ Doug, it can be done, in certain limited circumstances. The one successful example is in Seattle, where the Seahawks and Sounders share.

Basically, the issue comes down to that the Redskins would have so much power in the discussions that they'd likely design a stadium that was pretty inhospitable to United. That would mean failing to deliver on various things United would need:

* Wide enough field: The two fields are the same basic shape, but a soccer field is much wider (70-75 yards vs 53). NFL stadiums often skirt the dimensions, and you can usually observe the difference in field play when they do.

* Scheduling: it doesn't conflict all that often, but when it does, United would need some level of consideration.

* Economic control: meaning over some of the 'ancillaries', concessions, parking, box seat revenue. Also reasonable rent would be hard to deliver on, because big, nice stadiums cost more to open.

* Branding: it would have to look like United's stadium as much as the Skins'. It's harder to sell your team in 'your home stadium' when there's no black and red to be found but burgundy and gold everywhere.

* Aesthetics: this is probably the hardest of the bunch. MLS sells the in-game experience, and past experience renting most NFL stadiums is that even decent MLS crowds, say 15-17k, look like nothing in them. RFK is actually pretty decent in this regard, but it's also small by NFL standards. Seattle works OK because their MLS team draws 36,000 a game.

You'd need a two-decker (not a bowl) stadium, and you'd need the lower deck to be smaller than most NFL lower decks are, so that DCU would fill most of it on an average day and hope to sell it out on a good one. I'd guess 22-24k would be that number--which means you have kind of an awkward setup, because the Skins would probably want about 75-80k seats total. And then you'd need a distinct 'cut-off' feel for the upper deck so that fans aren't looking at it that much and can pretend it doesn't exist. (In Vancouver, they have a stadium shared by the MLS and CFL teams, and it has a retractable roof over just the lower deck, which would be an intriguing but expensive solution.)

There are other things like natural grass, which is a 'strong want' for soccer, because you can easily spot the difference in game play on turf, and no visible football lines during soccer games, which are hard but not impossible to deliver.

Most have said it's not realistic that a stadium will meet enough of those criteria to really be a decent home. I think it's barely possible, but it really stretches the imagination.

by Sgc on Nov 5, 2011 3:29 pm • linkreport

1. Redskins is offensive primarily because people in the group are offended. I've never met a Native American who referred to themselves as a redskin, saying "Hi, I'm a Redskin". That's the difference between that, and a name like "Fightin' Irish".

2. Despite popular mythos, neither the Verizon Center nor Nationals Stadium did very much to drive development in DC. Rather than repeat myself I refer you to this lengthy discussion. I supported Nationals Stadium and thought Linda Cropp was wrong. Turns out, I was.

3. I'm OK with a practice field in DC, but it probably isn't the best use. And it certainly isn't worthy of subsidy. There are a lot of great small businesses that are struggling/closing. If we have money to hand out, let's look at them - i.e. people who have already invested in DC - first.

4. I'd prefer to see the whole area turned into to Kennedy Brothers NRA.

by David C on Nov 5, 2011 7:19 pm • linkreport

David C

I can tell you that some of the USDOT employees dragged kicking and screaming from L'enfant were in part assuaged by the promise of the Ballpark. It was a tangible sign of the changes in the neighborhood. Among other things, it means police presence, and pedestrian presence. Thats not so important on M Street now, but only a couple of years ago it was.

Football facilities, that do not create that kind of presence, of course cannot have even the impact I claim for the ballpark

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 5, 2011 10:56 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity, What does that mean, they were assuaged? Were they not going to go had there been no baseball stadium? Or are you just saying that they were less upset about moving? Either way, who cares? It's not really a sign that the stadium led to development. It's only a sign that some people are irrational.

by David C on Nov 5, 2011 11:47 pm • linkreport

Some people didn't go - they got jobs at other agencies. I suspect it was a tipping factor to stay with USDOT for some people. And if the were less upset, that impacts morale and productivity, which their supervisors certainly care about.

Its not irrational. Even now there's far more pedestrians on M Street in the evening on game days, and that makes walking to the metro feel that much more comfortable. I'm surprised that at a blog that I think understands the importance of "critical mass" in urban development, this is so controversial.

Whether the factor is large enough to have a measurable impact on the pace of development I can't say. And even if it does, that does not mean that any subsidies were justified.

I looked at where you pointed, and did not see any conclusive demonstration of zero impact, but I did see people indicating the synergy of the sports venue with the urban qualities of the area.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 6, 2011 12:33 pm • linkreport

There's a historical economic logic, an imperative that football stadia are not self-supporting. For this reason:

The Jets played in the Mets' stadium
The Giants played in the Yankees' stadium
The Steelers played in the Pirates' stadium
The Redskins played in the Senators' stadium
The 49ers played in the Giants' stadium
The Lions played in the Tigers' stadium, etc.
The Bears' Soldier Field was a real exception.

by Capt. Hilts on Nov 6, 2011 12:39 pm • linkreport

@Capt Hilts

Not sure I buy that, that only shows that professional baseball was popular before professional football was.

Football as a game first grew in popularity as a college sport, the professional game didn't blossom until much later.

There are plenty of 'self supporting' college football stadia. I'm also not sure what 'self supporting' means. In terms of hosting events? Or just football? And based on what kind of economic model? The NFL these days is a TV sport, TV revenues vastly outweigh those generated within the stadium.

Also, point of correction - Soldier Field is indeed an old stadium (1924), but the Bears didn't play there until 1970. Before that, they played at Wrigley Field. They left because the NFL demanded all of their teams play in stadiums with capacities larger than 50,000. Soldier Field, at the time, could accomodate in excess of 100,000.

by Alex B. on Nov 6, 2011 1:05 pm • linkreport

Yes, baseball was more popular, but the economics of the two sports - and the economics of the time - dictated that football play in baseball-able stadia. [The WORST case being baseball played in a football stadium: the Toronto Blue Jays at Exhibition stadium. Ugh! Saw a game there.]

I was going to correct myself on the Bears and Wrigley - thanks for making that point. The Eagles played at Franklin Field for many years as well.

College athletics have a completely different economic basis and dynamic. Michigan's stadium is not only huge but OLD and supported, in part, by fees from a student body of over 50K.

But, seriously, compare how often Camden Yards is used and how often Ravens stadium is used. If Art Modell paid to build Ravens stadium, that would be fine - but taxpayers paid for a stadium that mostly sits empty most of the time. The Ravens should play in Camden Yards.

by Capt. Hilts on Nov 6, 2011 1:21 pm • linkreport

But, seriously, compare how often Camden Yards is used and how often Ravens stadium is used. If Art Modell paid to build Ravens stadium, that would be fine - but taxpayers paid for a stadium that mostly sits empty most of the time. The Ravens should play in Camden Yards.

There's one flaw with that logic: If you forced the Ravens to play at Camden Yards, the Ravens franchise would not exist.

People like football. It's a popular sport. The reason governments build stadiums (as much of a sham as the financing can be) is to get the team there.

The NFL never would've approved a team for Baltimore if the stadium plan was to play in Camden Yards.

Also, for college athletics - I don't believe Michigan Stadium is supported at all by student fees. That might have been part of the original financing back in the 20s, but it's certainly not part of it now.

by Alex B. on Nov 6, 2011 1:37 pm • linkreport

Alex B. do you support taxpayer funded football-only stadiums?

by Capt. Hilts on Nov 6, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport


How much support (both total dollar amount and percent of the project cost)? How is it financed? Where's the revenue come from? What's the team's situation (expansion? threat to move? etc)? Where is the stadium located? What kind of project are we talking about? What's the public money going for (infrastructure, the stadium itself, etc?)

Way too many variables to make that a yes/no question.

by Alex B. on Nov 6, 2011 2:25 pm • linkreport

I suspect it was a tipping factor to stay with USDOT for some people.

I find that very difficult to believe, considering the baseball stadium didn't open until a year after the DOT headquarters. That there are people who would not work there but for the promise that a year later there would be 40-50 evenings when the streets would have more pedestrians - but only evenings when it is still sunny after work - sounds beyond improbably to me. You can suspect it, but I don't see any reason to believe it.

Its not irrational.

It's not irrational to be willing to quit a job unless there are 40-50 well-lit evenings when there will be a few thousand pedestrians on the street several blocks a way? I guess we'll just agree.

I'm surprised that at a blog that I think understands the importance of "critical mass" in urban development, this is so controversial.

I get the idea of critical mass. But a building that takes up 2.5 city blocks and sits empty 95% of the time does not create a critical mass of people. Averaged out over the year, it probably has a lower number of people per square foot than most of the rest of the city.

I looked at where you pointed, and did not see any conclusive demonstration of zero impact,

It helps to go here first. But you're not going to find "conclusive evidence." That would require knowing what would happen without the stadium being built, and my parallel universe device has been on the fritz for months.

by David C on Nov 6, 2011 2:34 pm • linkreport

I couldn't agree more. RFK stadium didn't add a dime of economic development to anything within a mile (so even stuff outside of Res 13 where development was open to the free market saw nothing). There's a million better things to put there. I don't support public financing for anything where the employees and product generate millions of dollars in year in revenues and salaries. For the record, when Shakespearean actors make $20 million a year doing Hamlet at the Warner and have contracts that run for years, I'll pull my support for funding for the arts too....

by shawguy on Nov 6, 2011 2:46 pm • linkreport

Alex said:
How much support (both total dollar amount and percent of the project cost)? How is it financed? Where's the revenue come from? What's the team's situation (expansion? threat to move? etc)? Where is the stadium located? What kind of project are we talking about? What's the public money going for (infrastructure, the stadium itself, THE STADIUM ITSELFetc?)

Way too many variables to make that a yes/no question.


by Alex B. on Nov 6, 2011 2:25 pm

by Capt. Hilts on Nov 6, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

Ok, I hear you loud and clear.

by Alex B. on Nov 6, 2011 3:19 pm • linkreport

Having recently spent some time working down there, my position on the Navy Yard is that lots of businesses, both residential and commercial, saw potential in the area, but nobody wanted to be first in. (Even now, a whole lot of pretty pictures are on indefinite hold because no one wants to overshoot the demand.)

The baseball stadium was convenient in that it was willing to be first, and it may well have been the tipping point for a few people, who in turn were the tipping point for others.

That sort of thing would hardly justify $600 million in public expenditure, but it's probably more than zero impact.

by Sgc on Nov 6, 2011 3:54 pm • linkreport

Re: dates

Actually, an argument can be made that the main driver of economic value is actually outside events that might bring in people from out of the area (although, to be fair, when the Nats host the Phillies it brings a lot of people in from Philadelphia), and that a baseball stadium actually hosts *too many* dates (80 plus reserved dates for possible playoffs, all concentrated in the best weather months) to make that happen.

Football stadiums are problematic for other reasons, but regarding the list from Capt. Hilts, economic factors have changed since most of those multi-sport venues were built. To wit, luxury suites will, if the single-sport venue is built reasonably frugally and there's demand, finance a good half of the venue, which was something that wasn't true in, say 1965. Corporate sponsorship of stadiums also wasn't a big factor back then.

FedEx is pretty much self-financing--it was paid for by government bonds, but those are paid back by a direct tax on the facility, and by all appearances it appears the facility will perform on that obligation.

by Sgc on Nov 6, 2011 3:59 pm • linkreport

Interesting points SGC.

Those luxury boxes get written off on taxes as 'business expenenses' so they get subsidized by taxpayers, too. Do folks in PG County see FedEx as helping their city? Not that I'm aware. That money usually goes to the team, not the city - though those deals vary. Art Modell gets to keep even parking charges!

Jack Kent Cooke paid for the stadium. Taxpayers for the roads and plumbing on the way into it.

by Capt. Hilts on Nov 6, 2011 4:11 pm • linkreport

No, frankly, they don't, but that's not so much an economic issue as a neighborhood issue (essentially, a giant parking lot came in and broke the neighborhood up, lowering the quality of life for many locals).

My understanding is that JKC did not pay cash for the stadium, it was all done by bond obligation of the independent Maryland Stadium Authority. It doesn't show up in Maryland's general fund, and you can almost think of MSA as a quasi-government.

by Sgc on Nov 6, 2011 4:17 pm • linkreport

Jack Kent Cooke paid the costs of building the stadium. He negotiated for years to build RFK's replacement in the parking lot of RFK but it would have required taking part of the neighborning golf course.

One of the reasons the price Snyder paid for the team approached a billion dollars was because the stadium belonged to Cooke. That was also why he was permitted to put his name on it. I think Joe Robbie did something similar in Miami. I think he paid for it.

Had PG County taxpayers paid for the construction of the stadium, the sale price of the team would not have been so high.

by Capt. Hilts on Nov 7, 2011 12:11 am • linkreport

David C

1. WRT to it being a year after USDOT moved - yes, believe it or not, some folks at USDOT can actually look a year or more out. (appropriately discounted, of course)

2. Some at the tipping point. If there are a range of people, from those sure to quite, to those sure to stay, than there have to be some right at the tipping point (out of about 8000 employees). They can be tipped by a small change.

3. 40 to 50 week day home games a year, out of about 250 weekdays a year. Thats a significant proportion. Its of course a much higher percentage in the summer, which I think is prime mugging season.

4. Its not just folks several blocks away. Lots of people walk from parking EAST of USDOT. On a game day there are usually lots of fans walking PAST USDOT to the ballpark. If you had actually been at USDOT on a game day you would know this.

5. DOT employees, like many other people saw the ball park as heralding additional development (see this is where the synergies get all interconnected) You may estimate THAT impact at zero. Not everyone does.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 7, 2011 9:58 am • linkreport

6. and of course SOME USDOT employees are Nats fans

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 7, 2011 9:59 am • linkreport

"Averaged out over the year, it probably has a lower number of people per square foot than most of the rest of the city."

but the average of the rest of the city wasnt coming to that location at that point. The relevant comparison is to what was there then - which likely would have remained for years, and which was, possibly, an active deterrent to redevelopment.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 7, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

AWalkerinTheCity, I understand how tipping points work. But there actually needs to be a push for something to tip and I don't see one here. If one is afraid of being mugged in that neighborhood, I don't see how pushing muggings to non-baseball nights helps them. If you can find me evidence of even one person who was going to quit, but then didn't because of the baseball stadium, I'd be stunned into silence.

Before the baseball stadium, the site hosted over a dozen businesses, the Washington Sculpture Center, and at least one private residence. All together these probably provided more eyes on the street more reliably than the stadium does. [Some of these businesses had to shut down or move out of the District - hooray for supporting small businesses!]

I don't really want to argue about whether or not one or two USDOT employees may not have quit their jobs because of the baseball stadium. That is hardly 'development', which is what everyone asserts the stadium brought. Those jobs would have been filled. And if one or two may have quit because of the stadium, I propose that one or two who quit may have stayed, but for the stadium (Phillies fans). I have just as much proof of my assertion as you do of yours, which is exactly none.

by David C on Nov 7, 2011 11:28 am • linkreport

Yeah, Lance. Let's leave the Capper/Carrollsburg housing projects in Near SE and leave Near SE as a murderous shithole so a bunch of people, who cares if they are gay or not, can use the neighborhood as a playground. People are actually going to be able to LIVE in Near SE thanks to the stadium and the eventual investment and development around it. Well, people other that criminals and murderers.

by 20024 on Nov 8, 2011 9:43 am • linkreport

@20024 nonsense The Hope VI project to replace Capper Carrollsburg was underway before any thought of the stadium. If anything the stadium delayed additional development there
$300M riverfront project in Southeast ready to go
Washington Business Journal , Contributing Writer
Date: Monday, December 13, 1999, 12:00am EST
Long in the works, a new office development in southeast Washington has cleared two major regulatory hurdles.
The proposed project, which many see as a major stepping stone toward a revitalized Buzzard Point/Capitol Gateway area, got the thumb's up in recent weeks from both the National Capital Planning Commission and the city's zoning commission. This effectively clears the way for developer Florida Rock Properties of Jacksonville, Fla., to break ground whenever a major tenant can be signed.
The $300 million building would bring 1.5 million square feet of office space and almost 1500 parking spots to what is now a concrete processing facility on a six-acre plot of land on Potomac Avenue between First Street SE and South Capitol Street.

by Dan Maceda on Nov 8, 2011 10:07 am • linkreport

If anything the stadium delayed additional development there.

Huh? How so?

by Alex B. on Nov 8, 2011 10:25 am • linkreport

"I don't really want to argue about whether or not one or two USDOT employees may not have quit their jobs because of the baseball stadium. "

Im glad of that, as I dont have a time machine to go back and grill people. I am merely trying to give you the mindset of people who actually were in the position of moving to the area to work, and had decisions to make. At the time I don't think many USDOT employees thought the existing businesses in the area really added to their sense of safety - the upcoming ballpark was touted as a reason to feel positive about the move. What was true for them, may well be true for people who bought or rented units in the new residential developments, etc. I know thats not proof - I dont think we can retrospectively prove anything on this - but just as you are adding facts about the level of space usage, I am adding facts about perceptions.

I also don't know that we can discount the impact of the ballpark bringing people to the neighborhood who otherwise wouldn't have known about it, both people from the suburbs, and from other parts of the district.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 8, 2011 10:52 am • linkreport

"I propose that one or two who quit may have stayed, but for the stadium (Phillies fans)."


The ball park has brought out of town phillies fans to visit the area. Why would it be a negative for a greater Wash resident philly fan?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 8, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

@David C

Not sure how you could think the stadium wasn't at least a comfort factor for some people. I'm not sure about the direct safety aspect, but if my office was going to move to a previously pretty undeveloped (in terms of commercial office-oriented amenities) neighborhood, the promise of a big anchor for future development/demand would probably at least influence my opinion/decision.

Or do you just think that when an office moves no employees choose to start looking for another job?

by MLD on Nov 8, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport


Not sure how you could think the stadium wasn't at least a comfort factor for some people. I'm not sure about the direct safety aspect, but if my office was going to move to a previously pretty undeveloped (in terms of commercial office-oriented amenities) neighborhood, the promise of a big anchor for future development/demand would probably at least influence my opinion/decision.

Exactly. It also helps that the area is Metro accessible.

by Fitz on Nov 8, 2011 11:22 am • linkreport

just as you are adding facts about the level of space usage, I am adding facts about perceptions.

Which facts are you adding? So far you're claiming to somehow know what US DOT employees thought 5 years ago. Since I don't know how you could possibly know that, I don't know how that is a fact.

Why would it be a negative for a greater Wash resident philly fan?

That was a joke. But just as you can claim to magically know what people thought 5 years ago, so can I. And so I think some people refused to move to the new HQ because of the stadium.

Not sure how you could think the stadium wasn't at least a comfort factor for some people.

1. There is absolutely no evidence of this
2. The stadium wouldn't open until 1 year after DOT HQ.
3. The claim was not that it comforted anyone, but that it actually changed their decision. THis is merely speculative and it is just as likely that it changed their opinion for the negative as for the positive.
4. It really doesn't matter one iota. The point is that DOT HQ made its decision to move before the stadium site was selected. So, the stadium didn't influence DOT to make the move. Whether or not it comforted some people who were changing offices is irrelevant, unless you can show how that induced development. What's important is that the jobs moved - not individual people. Comforting employees whose jobs were moving, whether they went or not, doesn't really spell development.

by David C on Nov 8, 2011 1:05 pm • linkreport

Just checking, stereotyping by skin color is totally okay, right?

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Nov 9, 2011 3:28 pm • linkreport

Apparently it's just about honoring native Americans and everyone is proud of it. I'm glad these images and fans are respectful and all:

Anyway, why don't they just change the name to the Hogs? Their actually have a connection with the name, pork is huge in the South, they have mascots already in those silly men who dress up like ladies with snouts, and most importantly, there's the DC-Congressional connection: all the Pork that rolls out of this city.

by Shipsa01 on Nov 9, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

Geoff, who's being stereotyped by skin color?

by Capt. Hilts on Nov 9, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

Geoff, I hate that crap, too. But it's not the team that's doing it. And surveys have shown that Native Americans - by a wide margin - do not find the team's logo offensive.

To be frank, I would be content if the team had no name at all. Being from DC is enough for me. And I think George Allen stole the logo from the Blackhawks, who are named for Blackhawk himself.

And let's get rid of Notre Dame's drunken Irishman with the red nose and his fists up, while we're at it.

by Capt. Hilts on Nov 9, 2011 4:42 pm • linkreport

Capt. Hilts: (Sir?) - I wasn't saying the team was doing it, believe me. Referring back to comments made upstream.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Nov 9, 2011 4:44 pm • linkreport

As we continue to careen off topic...

@Capt. Hilts

Where do you get the idea that the Fighting Irish logo is drunk? Also, he does not have a red nose. As for the fists up, well, he's fighting.

by Steven Yates on Nov 9, 2011 5:04 pm • linkreport

Just want to bring to peoples' attention this blog post by Dave McKenna about RFK's 50th anniversary celebration and the fact that Dan Snyder is not attending from yesterday's City Paper:

"The name that really jumps out from the guest list, however, is one that's not on it: Dan Snyder.

The Redskins owner, of course, brings up how much RFK once meant to him about as often as a baby brings up dinner. And we know how much Snyder loves anniversaries. And it's well known the stadium folks and Snyder's organization have been talking for the last several years about the team making some sort of comeback on these grounds, even if it's just for a new Redskins Park.

Rumors about the Redskins' return to D.C. have picked up ever since Gray and some city councilmembers flew to Florida to inspect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training center.

So I was surprised that Snyder's passing up this climactic anniversary function. I asked a source with the party planners if Snyder was invited: "Yes of course he was invited," was the reply.

When I asked Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie, he replied only, "We will have representatives there." Maybe a desire to not raise any eyebrows before a deal with the RFK Stadium people is actually done caused Snyder to not send in an affirmative RSVP. Or, continuing in this French vein: Perhaps he'll be off holidaying on his new-to-him $70 million boat somewhere on the Riviera."

Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid, but it seems to me that there are talks going on (not in public) about this; we need to stay alert and make sure this DOES NOT happen.

by Shipsa01 on Nov 19, 2011 9:41 am • linkreport

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