What if RFK Stadium’s site WASN’T the only possible location for a new Commanders stadium in the District of Columbia proper?
Apparently, we have a new contender, as Michael Phillips of the Richmond Times-Dispatch told Grant & Danny late Monday afternoon.
“Across the river from Nats Park, it’s Anacostia Park right now but they’re re-branding it as Poplar Point; it’s 110 acres of land that will be given from the National Parks Service to the city of DC, and that’s a done deal,” Phillips said. “The city put out requests for proposal for ideas of what to do or build there – and one thing that’s appealing about 110 acres is it’s big enough for a pro football stadium.”
The FedEx Field site is a little bigger just because of the Prince George’s Sports Complex, and the RFK site is bigger as well, so that could be a drawback, as it would be harder to build up any other entertainment, retail, or dining venues in the area other than what’s already nearby.
“You’re probably looking at this being a stadium-only site, but there’s enough room to get it done,” Phillips said.
However, the site is accessible by three bridges (as well as a pedestrian bridge) and two limited-access highways, so it is a bit more accessible of a property, and being right on the river, there’s always the opportunity perhaps for water taxi service or other cross-river transportation.
It’s also an easier site build, as there’s not much there to have to worry about displacing.
“Presumably you’d have neighborhood buy-in, even though some people will complain about anything, but if you look at what Verizon Center did for Chinatown or Nats Park did for Southeast, they’d pitch it as being the catalyst for a re-development of that side of the river,” Phillips said. “That side of the river is not one tourists go to for a merry time that often, and also, there are no land issues.”
Easier too, perhaps, for the Harris group, as the city will own the land and there will be less political hurdles to clear to secure it as a site and begin the build.
“They’re taking out a big loan, and they’re not going to want to wait forever on this new stadium, which is a potential issue at RFK, which could be a four of five-year project to free up that land,” Phillips said. “I think they’d be much more excited breaking ground on something that could be done a lot sooner, and the sooner you start making money, the sooner you can start paying that loan down.”
Would a stadium-only site be a non-starter for anyone, though?
“I think the city would be fine with that, because the stadium will take care of the surrounding area itself,” Phillips said. “I think the Harris group is the one who would be more wary, but it’s all about how much money they want to take out of this versus how much patience and cache they want – do you want to go into RFK in 2032 having spent years wandering through the wilderness, or do you want to break ground right away somewhere that might not be the perfect solution.”
Phillips’ druthers would be wait for RFK, but as he said, he’s not the one taking the loan – but is it better to have more space and more stuff around it in a bad location or a stadium only in a better location…with a practice facility still nowhere nearby?
“The nice thing about Poplar Point is that pedestrian bridge across the river connects you with all the action around Nats Park, so you’re not disconnected from the city, which is a pretty exciting proposition for a lot of people,” Phillips said. “I don’t know that RFK is necessarily the be-all, end-all of sites, but I will say one thing: the brand may not be as strong to have a stadium-only site and then sustain another practice facility site.”
Then, of course, there’s the court of public opinion, which Danny referenced – and Phillips knows some people will be RFK or bust, but again, it’s not only not the only option now, it may not be the best one anyway?
“I think there’s an RFK or bust contingent, just like there was a Redwolves or bust contingent in the rebrand, but
Listen to Phillips’ entire conversation with Grant & Danny above!
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