The long-term future of RFK Stadium has returned to the agenda in Washington D.C. after a bill was introduced to sell the site to the District of Columbia.

RFK Stadium has mainly sat vacant since Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise D.C. United left the venue in 2017 to move to its new Audi Field home. The Washington Redskins called RFK Stadium, located around two miles east of the US Capitol building, home from 1961 to 1996 and the NFL American football team has recently been linked with a return with a new stadium on the site.

However, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, yesterday (Tuesday) introduced a bill to sell the RFK site to the District of Columbia for “fair market value”.

At 190 acres, the RFK site is the largest track of unused land in the District. The stadium site is owned by the Department of the Interior, and under D.C.’s current lease, it may only use it for recreation, stadium purposes, or open space. This lease is set to expire in 2038.

The District has sought to identify creative utilisation of the land, but uncertainty surrounding long-term control has stymied investment and planning. Norton claims the sale of the RFK site would strengthen the District’s ability to redevelop the land with the added freedom to consider options for additional green space, affordable housing, commercial development, and other enhancements that would benefit the surrounding neighbourhoods and the District as a whole.

She said in a statement: “This vast, unused track of federal land has incredible potential in the hands of the District of Columbia. Currently, the federal government gains no revenue from this site, nearly 90 per cent of the 190-acre campus consists of parking lots, which do nothing to strengthen our local economy. The D.C. government can make full use of this land for purposes that benefit the community and our economy.”

The Redskins moved to the 82,000-seat FedExField, five miles east of Washington D.C. in the state of Maryland, in 1997. Former Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke developed FedExField largely out of his own pocket, but current owner Daniel Snyder is said to be keen to exit a lease that is due to expire in 2027 and develop a new 60,000-seat stadium on the site of the team’s former home.

Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, last month withdrew from efforts to persuade the Redskins to build a new stadium at the Oxon Cove Park site, as his administration targets other uses for the land. The decision marked an about-turn after Hogan confirmed in December that he had negotiated a nonbinding land swap with U.S. Interior Department officials that could have allowed the Redskins to build a proposed 60,000-seat stadium on the parcel of federal land in Prince George’s County.

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