Text of a June 8, 2022 letter from seven members of the Council to Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton:
June 8, 2022
Honorable Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
2136 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
Dear Congresswoman Norton:
We are writing today, representing a majority of the Council of the District of Columbia. We appreciate your hard work to find a path forward for the District to gain control over the future of the National Park Service site that is currently primarily occupied by Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (“RFK”) and its associated surface parking lots. We believe this site provides the District an unparalleled opportunity to develop much needed housing at various levels of affordability, new parks and green spaces, new retail and economic opportunities creating jobs and careers, and environmental protections along the shores Anacostia River—all with easy access to Metro and transit. Meeting these needs for District residents and the city’s future growth is a clear reason for the federal government to transfer control of the site to the District government as soon as possible. But we also want to make clear that we believe a future football stadium at this site is incompatible with this vision.
We all hope that the Washington Commanders can address its ownership’s many off-the-field failures—in particular its failure to provide a safe working environment for women—and, secondarily, can return to its former glory on the field. However, we believe that this riverfront property, one of the last large undeveloped parcels of land in the District, must be utilized in the best interest of District residents. Study after study have shown that there is no economic benefit to cities that subsidize professional football stadiums, and the attendant vast parking lots, for use 8-10 times per year. The District already has many concert venues that attract the biggest stars and can host marquee events. That is to say, siting a stadium at the current RFK site is not the best use of this opportunity or this land, and we all know that no matter what promises the Commanders make about their willingness to pay for a stadium, District taxpayers will end up footing the bill for any number of costs.
While we will not support a football stadium, we strongly support your work to transfer the RFK stadium site to District control so that we can work together to address any number of the District’s needs. This would be a perfect site to build dense housing affordable to District residents at a range of incomes. We could expand opportunities for youth sports, building on the tremendous work that Events DC has done with the Fields at RFK. We could provide access to fresh food and other retail or expand access to healthcare services. We could provide access to the beauty of the Anacostia River, including Kingman Island, while preserving its quickly improving environment. The transfer of the land at RFK should not be contingent upon including a football stadium at the site when our residents can take advantage of the opportunities we have outlined, and much more.
We appreciate your many years of advocacy for the District and our residents, and especially your work to protect our fundamental democratic right for District residents and elected officials to make our own decisions about what happens in the District. If there is anything else that we can do to support your work to bring this parcel of land to District control, please do not hesitate to ask.
Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6
Councilmember Elissa Silverman, At-Large
Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau, Ward 1
Councilmember Robert C. White, Jr., At-Large
Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3
Councilmember Christina Henderson, At-Large
Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, Ward 4