News & Politics

What’s Next for RFK Stadium?

Three possibilities for the stadium’s grounds.

Could a new stadium be next? Photograph of RFK Stadium by Evy Mages .
Goodbye RFK

About Goodbye RFK

For 62 years, RFK was where Washingtonians came together. We celebrate and remember its history and legacy.

“We can’t allow for this to be the picture of RFK in our town,” DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said at RFK Stadium’s final public sendoff in December, as crews dismantled the crumbling hulk around her. When the demolition work is done, Bowser wants new development at the site to provide “recreation, housing, jobs, better access to the river, better parks, better event space for more sports”—but before anything significant can happen on the 190 acres of federally owned land along the Anacostia River, local and national lawmakers will have to get on the same page. What could the future hold? Here are three possibilities­—which are not mutually exclusive.

A Really Good Rec Center

The DC Council has funded construction of a $60 million recreation center on the site, though where it will actually be located is up in the air. The National Park Service leases the land to Events DC—the city’s sort-of public company that owns and manages venues such as Nationals Park and the Entertainment and Sports Arena—under the condition that it provide “recreational facilities, open spaces, or public outdoor recreation opportunities.” A new facility that offers an indoor track and activities like gymnastics would tick that box.

A Gateway Park

In 2006, the National Capital Planning Commission endorsed a mix of recreation and cultural spaces reminiscent of the area surrounding the Gateway Arch in St. Louis or the Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The RFK site is well positioned for recreation, with trails and boating opportunities on Kingman and Heritage islands that are only a footbridge away. Meanwhile, by the end of April the current RFK festival grounds (parking lot 8) will have already hosted the National Cannabis Festival and the Project Glow EDM festival; a revamped campus could potentially attract and accommodate more big events.

A Commanders Stadium

The prospects for bringing the Washington Commanders back to the city have gone up and down more times than Dan Snyder’s yacht in bad weather. With Snyder reportedly about to sell the team, could the DC Council’s opposition to dealing with him finally dissipate? The National Football League says it wants DC “at the table” when it plans a replacement for FedExField. 

This article appears in the April 2023 issue of Washingtonian.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.