The Washington Post

Events D.C. seeks consultant to study future of RFK Stadium

Main entrance to RFK Stadium in Washington. (Doug Kapustin/For The Washington Post)

Events D.C., the agency that manages the District’s convention center and sports facilities, is seeking private consultants with ideas about how best to redevelop RFK Stadium.

RFK is 52 years old and its main tenant, D.C. United, is hoping to move into a new Major League Soccer stadium on Buzzard Point in coming years. Shortly after D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the framework for a new stadium deal, Gregory A. O’Dell, the president and chief executive of Events D.C., said he would study the options for RFK.

Now he’s seeking a consultant who can draw up plans not just for the demolition and redevelopment of RFK itself, but 80 acres of surrounding parking lots and the D.C. Armory.

“As we hope, from the city’s perspective that a new stadium for D.C. United crystalizes, that presents both a gap and an opportunity for us at the RFK campus,” O’Dell said.

The advertisement for work requires interested companies to propose options for both how to redevelop the properties with the expectation that RFK Stadium would be demolished and, alternatively, how RFK and its surroundings might be re-used for the next eight-to-10 years without tearing the stadium down.

D.C. shares space in the Armory with the National Guard. Non-military parts of the building include a 65,000-square-foot main drill hall and two others spaces totaling 54,000 square feet. One of its tenants is the D.C. Roller Girls roller derby team.

RFK has a capacity of about 45,000 and Events D.C. holds concerts, festivals and skate park events in the parking lots. O’Dell upgraded aspects of RFK after United signed a new two-year deal with last year.

Overall, in this fiscal year, the RFK campus generated $4.1 million in revenue for the authority against $5.3 million in expenses. Events D.C. set a deadline of Jan. 3 of next year for responses.

O’Dell said it probably does not make sense financially to preserve or rehab RFK in the long-term because of is limitations as a modern sports venue. “The stadium is plus-50 years old and in many ways, given technology and how stadiums have evolved, it is a bit obsolete. So the question you have to ask is from a functionality perspective, what do you have to do to make it functional?” he said.

Another matter not mentioned in the four-page advertisement is that the stadium is a memorial to Robert F. Kennedy, the U.S. attorney general who was assassinated in 1968.

O’Dell said he had some interactions recently with the Kennedy family when RFK turned 50 years old, but he did not discuss the possibility of tearing down the building with Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, or other members of the family. The federal government owns the land beneath the stadium and would have a say in how it was redeveloped.

“There will certainly be people who are looking to save it,” O’Dell said.

Mike DeBonis contributed.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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