"STARPLEX" is the uncatchy name promoters have stuck on the Stadium-Armory Complex -- long the home of the Redskins, the Diplomats and a municipal debt that local taxpayers once thought would never quit. But while there's a time out on the field, a look at the scoreboard shows that RFK Stadium may go into the black after nearly a dozen years of hard financial going. The city, which has been scraping up interest payments on the place since it was built, is about to inherit a paid-off stadium complete with ambitious plans to make it even more attractive at no cost to the local government.
Plans announced this week call for the addition of 3,500 seats and other improvements to the facility to the tune of about $4 million -- all to come from the private sector. Unlike an earlier, ill-conceived expansion for anybody willing to plop down a $5,000 membership fee plus unspecified annual dues, the latest plan is an attractive proposition.
The big difference has to do with the waiting list for Redskins season tickets. Based on the last actuarial tables we saw, an average healthy adult applying for season tickets today will be eligible for a seat sometime in the 21st century, or at the age of 100, whichever comes later. That's why the gold-plated dining-club plan bombed -- it would have bumped 161 fans out of their existing seats, while allowing 200 to 300 flusher fans to leapfrog the list and buy their way in.
The new game plan would include luxury boxes, but it also provides for expansion of a bleacher section and remodeling to add another cantilevered deck. Details are expected to be ready by Dec. 1 for potential investors, who would be looking to recover their investments plus interest through fees and income generated by the new facilities. This sort of imaginative thinking, coupled with new efforts by local business groups to attract major special events to RFK, could well turn a heavy taxpayer burden into a sporting proposition.