The next big thing.
Here in Washington, three next big things, the Nationals’ new ballpark, National Harbor and The Newseum, will open their doors this spring. But for development watchers at forums like Skyscraper City, those three are so yesterday. They want to talk about something new on the horizon.
Well, then, how about a retractable-roof stadium, holding, say, 100,000?
Yea, yea, we know the story. Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder wants one so he can bring a Super Bowl to Washington and make gazillions of dollars more, all wrapped up in a glorious return to the city.
Such a move has been mostly talk, but the plot thickened this past Wednesday. NBC News 4 led their 6 p.m. show with a report that D.C. Mayor Fenty, who was once against giving millions to millionaires, will lend his support to an effort to get the Redskins back by building a domed stadium that would host the team and other big-time events. D.C. Council member Jack Evans, who has previously supported such an effort, “confirmed on Thursday that he has asked Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi to become involved.”
Interest in a domed stadium for the Redskins goes back to the early 1980s when they were becoming popular and were seen as the wave of the future. Team owner Jack Kent Cooke indicated some interest in one, although initially, plans were vague. In 1988, after Cooke pursued the effort further, an NFL official stated that Washington would be in the running to host the Super Bowl in 1992, on the condition that a 75,000-seat domed stadium would be built. Ultimately, the Redskins built FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The team has had no problem filling the 90,000 plus stadium, but NFL rules state that a Super Bowl host city must either be in a warm climate or have a dome/retractable-roof stadium.
Interest in a large sports stadium in the nation’s capital goes back to the late 30s. Congressman (N.C.) Robert Reynolds, citing the “deplorable fact that America is the only major country not possessing a stadium with facilities to accommodate the Olympic Games,” urged the District of Columbia Commissioners to push for the building of a municipal outdoor stadium and ancillary facilities within the District. What is now the RFK site was where the planners wanted to build the stadium. Those bigger plans were scrapped and D.C. Stadium, with a capacity of 45,000, was opened in 1961. It was re-named RFK Stadium in 1969.
Like all big projects, the District’s Pleasure Dome faces major hurdles. If it does get to the drawing boards, look for another topic heading at the development forums.
Call it “The Really Big Next Big Thing.”