If you've ever been victimized by the brutal traffic going out to FedEx Field, then you'll appreciate what D.C. council member Jack Evans is trying to do. The Ward 2 representative sees FedEx Field decaying (slight exaggeration) since it opened in 1997 and has a grand idea: renovate RFK Stadium and bring the Redskins back there.â†µ
â†µâ†µEvans envisions a $2 billion to $3 billion project to tear down RFK, located on the shores of the Anacostia River just over 20 blocks due east of the Capitol Building, and build a new, 110,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof.â†µ
Evans says the stadium could be used for "more than football," pointing to the World Cup (oops) and the Olympics as possible events that could be held there. Rah rah rah! Sign me up! Football, back in D.C., instead of that terrible, awful commute to Landover!â†µ
Except, there's a problem: it basically amounts to a huge stadium that's empty most of the time. As Matthew Yglesias notes:â†µ
â†µâ†µThe fundamental problem with football in an urban setting is that the NFL plays very few games. You've got 8 regular season home games. Throw in a bit of preseason and playoff appearances and you're still looking at a facility that's empty on 95 percent of days. That's an inherently low-intensity land use and like other low-intensity land uses-farms, airports, etc.-it belongs to be way out somewhere where land is cheap and space is plentiful. Which is to say it belongs far from the city center and, in DC's circumstances, that means outside the city limits. The fact that you might or might not attract some World Cup matches or Olympic events every couple of decades doesn't challenge this calculus in any meaningful way.â†µ
Also, the Redskins say they're not entertaining the thought of moving until their lease expires in (wait for it) 2027. Oh well. It's a fun idea at least.