The Redskins Future Home
So You Want To Build A Brand New Stadium
All you’ll need is a few hundred acres of land, a handful of fawning politicians, and a couple billion dollars
Near National Harbor
Adjacent to IAD
Site of Legendary Victories
Here’s something most everyone can agree on: this looks really cool…
…and this place is a giant pile of cat turds.
The New Redskins Stadium Will Be Amazing. But Where Will It Be?
By Evan Redmon, August 1st, 2018
Shortly after Daniel Marc Snyder became the majority owner of the Washington Redskins in 1999, he took an in-depth tour of FedEx Field and it’s inner workings. Later that same week, he declared the stadium to be a “fixer-upper”.
FedEx Field was two years old.
For the moment, let’s table any discussion regarding the wisdom and practicality of using taxpayer money to build a billion-dollar behemoth which gets used maybe 15-20 times a year. Regardless of how that makes you feel, one fact about DC area sports arenas has brooked no debate: FedEx Field was a dump from the jump.
The current lease with Prince George’s County on the Giant Toilet in Landover, MD, runs through 2027. That hasn’t stopped the Redskins brass from getting the ball rolling on a new ‘wow factor’ stadium, befitting of a major market team in the Information Age.
The planning is now well underway for the new Redskins stadium, or Danny World, as it is sure to become known.
Location, Location, Location: Three Logical Choices
The address of the new Redskins stadium will depend on several varying factors. Maryland, Virginia and DC each have a viable location to become the next home of the Redskins. However, it will all come down to some combination of politics and practicality.
Many fans, particularly older ones who reside in The District, often assert some version of the following:
They HAVE to build the new Redskins stadium in DC. They’re the WASHINGTON Redskins for crying out loud, not the Maryland Redskins or the Virginia Redskins. I don’t care what other teams do.
It’s an understandable opinion, one that many suburbanites no doubt share. However, there are several obstacles which make a new Redskins stadium inside the diamond a tough – but certainly not impossible – mission.
Like the games which will occur inside the new, breathtaking building proposed by the Bjarke Ingels Group, there is sure to be plenty of competition.
DC Is Not NY, But It’s Close
There is a finite amount of land in DC proper, and most of it is taken. Houses, apartment buildings, museums, National Park land (all monuments and Rock Creek Park are under NPS auspices), schools, hospitals … all of it on ever-increasingly valuable property.
Take a look at DC with the satellite view enabled on Google Maps. Let me know where you see 200 acres of land not being used. RFK, you say? It’s not as big as you think, and there are other problems with that location. But we’ll get to that.
For now let’s take a look at the front-runner locations in Maryland and Virginia, both of which seem to have better odds of becoming home to the new Redskins stadium than any place in DC.
The New Redskins Stadium dealings will largely be handled by newly hired Brian Lafemina
Oxon Hill Farm, Oxon Hill, MD
For the new Redskins stadium, the team has expressed a desire for a “downtown experience”.
What that means is open to interpretation. It certainly doesn’t mean the stadium has to be in an actual downtown.
What it does mean is that it must have what FedEx Field has always sorely lacked: fun stuff to do around the stadium. The FedEx experience has always been more ‘beach chair in a parking lot while projectile vomiting’ than ‘downtown’.
By any measure, a brand new hotel/casino complex fits into most people’s idea of fun stuff.
Pros and Cons of the National Harbor Location for the New Redskins Stadium
- Close to one of the premiere entertainment destinations in the DC area, the National Harbor
- Area would provide a reasonable facsimile of a downtown experience, with several restaurants, bars, hotels, casino nearby
- Adjacent to three major roadways; I-495, I-295, and 210 (Indian Head Hwy)
- Less than 1 mile south of the DC / MD state line
- Location is right on the water; stadium could be positioned to give fans nice views of the Potomac River
- Not close to a Metro stop; nearest (Southern Ave.) is over a one-hour walk away
- No plans are in place to extend the Metro anytime soon; cost would be $240M per mile, or close to $1B, to build track/station to National Harbor
- Traffic near the Wilson Bridge is notoriously bad; prime-time home games would be a nightmare
- While “across the street” from the new MGM Casino, that “street” is 10 lanes of highway (perhaps a pedestrian bridge could be built?)
Dulles Western Lands, Dulles, VA
The new Redskins stadium could very well be located within a stone’s throw of Dulles Airport.
It makes sense in a few regards, but completely no sense in others. One thing is for certain: when you think of scrubby grasslands west of IAD, the term downtown experience is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind. There’s no town at all, in fact.
Unless you want to call the Dulles Town Center a town. It’s actually a mall 10 miles north of the potential location, with a JC Penny and a Walmart Superstore nearby. That’s downtown to some folks, I do reckon.
Pros and Cons of the Dulles Western Lands for the New Redskins Stadium
- Very close to Redskins Park; the majority of players live in the immediate area
- By far the largest of the three potential areas at well over 400 acres
- Adjacent to 267 (Dulles Toll Road) and Route 50 (Lee Hwy)
- Virginia politicians are falling over themselves to entice the Redskins to build in their state
- Metro (Silver Line) is under construction and the Loudoun County Gateway station will be relatively close by
- In the middle of nowhere, comparatively, to the other potential sites
- No interstate highways immediately adjacent; , I-66 is the closest and it’s a parking lot between 4PM-8PM, M-F
- Traffic in Loudoun County is already some of the worst in the area; the county clearly overbuilt without providing the necessary transportation infrastructure
- Anything resembling a downtown would have to be built from scratch (though there is plenty of room to do it)
- What person who lives east of DC would ever want to go out past Dulles Airport to watch a football game?
RFK Stadium Site, East Capitol St., Washington, DC
In the confines DC, there is really no other possible location for the new Redskins stadium than on the RFK site. The only other areas that have enough unpopulated real estate for it are controlled by the National Park Service, which doesn’t even want the three DC golf courses on NPS lands.
A stadium? They’d probably shove gross bugs in your ear canal like in The Wrath of Khan if you even suggested it.
RFK will soon be demolished, one way or another. What better way to honor the great memories of that quirky arena than to make it the new home of the Redskins? And the locale has got far more downtown caché than either of the other two candidates. However, there’s a bit of a political problem.
Pros and Cons of the RFK Site for the New Redskins Stadium
- It worked just fine as the home of the Redskins for 37 years
- Excellent Metro access – the stop (Stadium-Armory) was named after RFK!
- Plenty of vehicle access from a variety of roads, including I-295, East Capitol St., and relatively close to I-695
- Site is in downtown DC for that downtown experience
- All major DC sports teams would have their home inside the city
- Major political issue; DC Council has repeatedly affirmed that it will not approve a new Redskins stadium if the team does not change their name, and Dan Snyder has been equally stern that he will never change it, so we appear to be at an impasse
- By far the smallest site – hard to say exactly what the acreage is or what it could be, but best case scenario is not much more than 110 acres, which might lead to a lack of adequate parking
- However, there are NFL stadiums (Seattle, 70 acres) that are on less space.
- To truly get the downtown feel the team is looking for, the neighborhood would have to undergo some changes, which could lead to resident displacement/gentrification
Which is the best candidate for the new Redskins stadium?
I’ll start with worst to best – my opinion of course – and provide reasons why.
3. Dulles Western Fields
It’s just too far away. The transportation infrastructure is not nearly adequate either in the immediate area or leading to the location. People in DC wouldn’t even feel like it’s a DC team anymore. There’s literally nothing but warehouses in the area.
Yes, a sustainable, walkable neighborhood which fosters a closer social network (or whatever urban planners say) could be built up around the stadium. But does the world really need another stepford neighborhood, with such diverse establishments as Starbucks, Panera, and Chipotle? And who wants planes flying over the stadium every few minutes? That would be neat for about 15 minutes and then get old quickly.
No. Just no, no, no. Everything about this location stinks. I’m horrified at the mere thought of it.
2. Oxon Hill Farm/National Harbor
This would be in first place were it not for one factor: the Metro. No Metrorail access is tantamount to a deal killer. It means that every single person has to get there by car, and that’s just not practical for a number of different reasons.
Everything else about it makes sense. It’s just right outside the city. The location is aesthetically pleasing. The MGM Casino and the 60-plus food establishments in the area make it a natural fit for a football crowd. The new Redskins stadium would be the crown jewel on an already well planned, well executed entertainment area.
I’d be proud to take out-of-town visitors to the stadium, grab some good grub and hang out by the river, then play a little blackjack at MGM and call it a night.
But man, the lack of Metro is a serious drawback. As mentioned previously, it costs approximately $240 million per mile to build tracks and stations. The cost could go down somewhat if a direct line went straight from Southern Ave to National Harbor (i.e only one station), but at about 3.5 miles, you’re still talking about $800 million. And the massive tangle of roads between the Oxon Hill Farm site and the MGM/Harbor would have to be solved, somehow.
How is this not the obvious winner? It’s not even close.
One has to believe that the name change issue can be overcome somehow. I don’t know how. I certainly see the side of Native Americans who have had their heritage crushed to a pulp by countless indignities and downright atrocities, and I respect the position of those who say “enough is enough”.
I can also understand why the passionate owner of a team that’s had the same name for 80-plus years doesn’t want to change it, even if he’s been kind of a jerk about it. A billionaire thumbing his nose at a race of people who have suffered like Native Americans have … not good optics, as the TV people say these days.
Sadly, it appears that this one issue will keep the team out of DC for around another 30-50 years. I’ll either be dead or wearing adult diapers by the time football returns to DC.
Until then, we can dream about riding the Metro to Stadium/Armory, buying a half-smoke on the way to the stadium, and seeing scenes like this: