The D.C. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act was introduced by committee chairman James Comer (R-KY) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) in July and is being marked up in a committee hearing Wednesday.
The proposed legislation would transfer control of the land in southeastern D.C. from the Secretary of the Interior to the administrator of the General Services Administration. Under control of the General Services Administration, the bill stipulates the administrator must enter a lease with the government of D.C. to allow them to redevelop the land into whatever they want, including a new stadium, commercial or residential developments, or recreational facilities.
Passing the legislation would likely set Washington, D.C., as the front-runner to replace the Washington Commanders’s aging FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, which opened in 1997. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia are all fighting for the Commanders to build a stadium in their jurisdictions. The Commanders currently have their headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia, but the access to the Washington Metro and location on the Anacostia River makes the RFK Stadium site desirable.
The team, then known as the Washington Redskins, played at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., from 1961 to 1996. After the Redskins left, RFK Stadium continued to host events, including the MLS’s D.C. United from 1996 to 2017 and the MLB’s Washington Nationals from 2005 to 2007. Since D.C. United left six years ago, the site has fallen into disrepair as the stadium is slowly being demolished.
“The RFK site sits on underused federal land in D.C. that could be redeveloped, generating tax revenue for D.C.,” Norton said in a statement in July.
“Neither the mayor nor the Council chair opposes this bill, which would allow D.C. to put the site to productive use — a vast improvement on the current state of affairs. I look forward to working with Chairman Comer to pass this bill as quickly as possible,” she added.
The bipartisan bill is being considered months after the House of Representatives waded into local politics for the District for the first time in decades, blocking a controversial crime bill. Unlike that effort, this bill has support from local leaders who cannot proceed with redeveloping the land without congressional action.
“The House Oversight Committee remains committed to working with Washington, D.C., officials to ensure a capital that is prosperous for residents and visitors for generations to come. After discussing city initiatives with D.C. Mayor Bowser and other local stakeholders, it has become clear that addressing the deteriorating conditions at the RFK Memorial stadium site is a top economic priority for the city,” Comer said in a statement in July.
The markup session for the House Oversight Committee is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill.