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Friday, September 06, 2019

Bye-bye, bouncy seats: District to raze RFK Stadium by 2021

The District plans to tear down the dilapidated RFK Stadium by 2021, a move officials say is driven by a need to save money and not to advance any plans for the Redskins to build a new football stadium there.

The decision announced Thursday will end the life of the 58-year-old stadium best known for hosting the Redskins during the team’s glory years in the 1980s and early 1990s, when it won three Super Bowl championships.

RFK, located on the Anacostia River two miles east of the U.S. Capitol, also was home for a time to both the Nationals and Senators baseball teams, as well as the D.C. United soccer team. It also hosted concerts, including performances by the Beatles, Madonna and Foo Fighters.

Events DC, the District agency that manages the 47,000-seat stadium, is seeking bids by Oct. 25 from contractors to demolish the facility. Since D.C. United left in 2017, RFK has attracted few events and is costing the city $2 million a year for maintenance, landscaping, pest control, security and other services. Utility bills add another $1.5 million a year.

So it goes.

 

QLE Posted: September 06, 2019 at 07:17 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rfk stadium

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   1. Bote Man Posted: September 06, 2019 at 08:56 AM (#5877070)
Long-time D.C. residents probably have more memories of football than baseball in RFK, account the 33-year absence of the latter. The District could probably recoup some of that maintenance money by auctioning off the Frank Howard home run seats before those who care die off.

During the inaugural game there on 14 April, 2005 Charlie Slowes remarked about the fans bouncing the movable stands up and down as they rhythmically jumped in unison. This prompted a promise that Nationals Park would be equipped, by design, with spring-mounted seats that would allow for the safe mimicking of this feeling; alas, it was not to be.

They raved about how nice RFK looked when baseball returned, but a few years later when Nationals Park opened Ryan Zimmerman noted that they were "happy to be out of that tank" which sums up the feelings about cookie-cutter concrete donut multi-purpose stadia. This also raises the question about whether they are cookies or donuts, which remains unanswered.
   2. DL from MN Posted: September 06, 2019 at 09:33 AM (#5877077)
I've never been to RFK but it didn't seem to be in very good shape after the X-Men movie.
   3. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 06, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5877109)
When I was 5, I went to helmet night at RFK and saw Frank Howard hit a home run. Me and about 5,000 other people.

   4. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 06, 2019 at 11:33 AM (#5877115)
This also raises the question about whether they are cookies or donuts, which remains unanswered.


Bagels.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 06, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5877120)
I went to games the Nats inaugural season and RFK is tied with Metrodome for the worst baseball stadium I have ever been to. But in fairness, I don't think they were quite equipped to get that stadium baseball-ready in such short time.

I remember the seats bopping up and down and laughing nervously like "hey, this is fun, we're all gonna die."
   6. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: September 06, 2019 at 11:49 AM (#5877123)
I went to games the Nats inaugural season and RFK is tied with Metrodome for the worst baseball stadium I have ever been to.

I went to a Braves/Nats game there that season and while walking on the concourse, I had to move over for a golf cart and I brushed my arm and shoulder against the wall. The grime from the wall put such a nasty stain on my shirt that I ended up having to eventually throw it out. That was a ballpark first for me.
   7. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 06, 2019 at 12:07 PM (#5877135)
RFK was great for football, not so great for baseball, but back in the early years it had one big benefit: It was the easiest stadium in the world to sneak into. Other than opening day and the first All-Star game of 1962, I can't remember ever buying a ticket, even though before Short took over the tickets were dirt cheap. Another bonus was that free street parking was easy if you knew where to look and got there early enough.

Went to the first New Nats game and then to the game where Zimmerman hit a walkoff against Chien-Ming Wang, but that was about it for me and the Nats in RFK.
   8. Esoteric Posted: September 06, 2019 at 12:15 PM (#5877136)
Saw around six games at RFK (basically whenever I was back home from Chicago) and I'll say this much: it was an old monstrosity of a stadium, absolutely zero modern amenities, but it was easy to get to, easy to get into, and there weren't many bad seats even in the upper decks. Sure, it was brutally enormous (hence Zimmerman calling it a "tank") and yeah, it was grimey and downscale, but darnit I enjoyed every game I ever saw there. And that was when the Nationals were (2005 excepted) a truly *terrible* team.
   9. jmurph Posted: September 06, 2019 at 12:27 PM (#5877137)
I liked RFK-era Nats games, too. In addition to the convenience it was generally pretty easy to buy cheap seats and move around to other sections. And yeah, the cheaper seats were better than some of the more expensive ones: I once mistakenly bought tickets behind homeplate, maybe 20 or so rows back? I forget where the cutoff was, but if you were too high up in that section your view was blocked by the overhang from the 2nd deck and press boxes and such, to the point that you couldn't see the ball if it went too high in the air.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: September 06, 2019 at 12:28 PM (#5877138)
I remember the seats bopping up and down and laughing nervously like "hey, this is fun, we're all gonna die."

I went to a Beach Boys concert at the old Yankee Stadium in the 1980s. 50,000 people all tapping their toes in unison to the beat of songs everyone knew by heart, and the entire upper deck was swaying (same thing happened at new Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for the Jets-Steelers AFC title game).

we were in the upper deck. my buddy's girlfriend was terrified. I told her, hey, it's the people BELOW us who should be terrified.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 06, 2019 at 12:56 PM (#5877143)
I went to a Beach Boys concert at the old Yankee Stadium in the 1980s. 50,000 people all tapping their toes in unison to the beat of songs everyone knew by heart, and the entire upper deck was swaying (same thing happened at new Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for the Jets-Steelers AFC title game).

That's the building working as designed.
   12. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: September 06, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5877169)
Isn't Camp Randall where the bar is set for Stadiums that Bounce?

(Cue House of Pain...)
   13. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 06, 2019 at 01:48 PM (#5877173)
RFK was OK in its day, and better than much that preceded it, but there are far better options almost everywhere these days. I got to Washington the year after the expansion Senators absconded, but attended some Redskins games and early Nationals games at RFK. Enjoyed the games, but won’t miss the stadium. Looks like there will be a big land-use battle over what the replacement will be.
   14. ajnrules Posted: September 06, 2019 at 01:52 PM (#5877175)
Went to the first New Nats game and then to the game where Zimmerman hit a walkoff against Chien-Ming Wang, but that was about it for me and the Nats in RFK.


I was at that game, one of six Nationals games I attended at RFK. I remember hearing that the crowd of 45,157 was the largest ever for a baseball game at RFK Stadium. It was a little bit bittersweet for me. I liked Zimmerman, who attended my alma mater of the University of Virginia, but at the same time my parents are from Taiwan so I was rooting heavily for Chien-Ming Wang. In the end I had to resolve my cognitive dissonance by concluding that if somebody was to hit a walk-off home run against Wang, I'm glad it was Zimmerman.

The other five games at RFK Stadium:
7/22/2005 - The Houston Astros beat up on Nationals pitching to win 14-1. Roger Clemens gets his 110th (and final) 10-strikeout game en route to his 336th career win.
8/7/2005 - Jake Peavy strikes out ten and drives in a run as he throws a complete game shutout against the Nationals.
4/6/2007 - The Arizona Diamondbacks take a one-hitter into the ninth while helping Micah Owings record his first Major League win.
6/1/2007 - The Nationals get revenge on Peavy during his Cy Young season with three runs, then take the victory in 10 innings.
9/22/2007 - In the penultimate home game at RFK Stadium, Ryan Howard strikes out four times, but then drives home the go-ahead run in the 10th inning.

Yeah, RFK Stadium is a bit of a dump, but it was still fun to watch a game there, and I'll mourn for it once it's gone.
   15. Colonel Samuel B. Sternwheeler Posted: September 06, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5877204)
When RFK opened (as DC Stadium), those of us who had gone to Griffith Stadium thought we had died and gone to heaven.

I will always have fond memories of the old dump, Senators, Redskins and Nationals, but its time has come and gone. I told my son that when they get ready to implode it, I plan on being there with a lawn chair, a sub from The Italian Shop and a beer.
   16. . Posted: September 06, 2019 at 05:53 PM (#5877265)
Went there a bunch of times for both baseball and football (*), including seeing the Lions get creamed in the 1991 NFC Championship game a week after their only playoff win in then 34 now 62 years, and sharing 2005 Nats season tickets with some friends/co-workers. The only thing "wrong" with it for baseball was that it isn't a mallpark and for football, it's excellent. The atmosphere at the Foreskin games in their 80s/early 90s heyday was -- and I hate the Foreskins -- pretty much spectacular. Very close to the blue/orange line Metro stop, in the city, upper deck not having to start after two or three levels of suites, nothing bad to say about it.

Nats Park is newer but, as I say with all the new stadiums -- if you don't go to the games for the mall or the food or to show off in a suite, but instead to sit in your seat, hit the pisser maybe once or twice, are ok with a hot dog or hamburger or chicken tenders and a beer and just want to watch a baseball game, RFK is every bit as good a place to watch baseball, and I'd even say better. Nats Park is virtually the dictionary definition of meh.

(*) And concerts. Who and Stones no more than like four months apart in the summer/fall of 1989 to kick off my DC experience.
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: September 06, 2019 at 06:32 PM (#5877269)
I told my son that when they get ready to implode it, I plan on being there with a lawn chair, a sub from The Italian Shop and a beer.

when they began to demolish Giants Stadium a decade ago, the small crowd assembled was treated to a recording of Bruce's "Wrecking Ball."

"Now my home's here in these Meadowlands, where mosquitoes grow big as airplanes
Here where the blood is spilled, the arena's filled, and Giants played the games.

So raise up your glasses and let me hear your voices call
Come on!
Because tonight all the dead are here, so bring on your wrecking ball

Now when all this steel and these stories, they drift away to rust
And all our youth and beauty, has been given to the dust
When the game has been decided, and we're burning down the clock
And all our little victories and glories, have turned into parking lots
When your best hopes and desires, are scattered to the wind
And hard times come, and hard times go
And hard times come, and hard times go
And hard times come, and hard times go
   18. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 06, 2019 at 07:04 PM (#5877274)
RFK is every bit as good a place to watch baseball, and I'd even say better.
That’s the 1st time I’ve heard that sentiment anywhere. Seats at Nats Park are closer, with better sight lines, IMHO, and amenities are far superior. Although development took some time to catch up to the ballpark, there are now a lot of pre & post-game options, which were completely lacking at RFK, which was surrounded by parking lots, the DC Armory & DC General Hospital.
   19. Rennie's Tenet Posted: September 06, 2019 at 09:21 PM (#5877282)
The group that tried to arrange a new team for DC set up an exhibition, I think Mets-Orioles, just before the season started around 1988. Icy rain - worst weather in which I ever saw a sporting event. At the end of five, groups of players came out and just waved goodbye to the fans. I think one side threw a no hitter.

Edit: that was Mets-Phils in 1987, Sid Fernandez throwing a one-hitter. Mets-Orioles was in 1988.
   20. donlock Posted: September 07, 2019 at 06:46 PM (#5877435)
I am so old I remember when RFK was D.C. Stadium, home of the expansion Nats.

My best memory of the park was August 15, 1966 when the Beatles came to town. My ticket, in the upper deck, was $4.00. Apparently, on this tour, the girls screamed so much that the Fab Four couldn't even hear each other's cues on stage and just went through the motions. When the tour ended in San Francisco at the end of August, they Beatles never toured again. Take that, millennials and Gen X. Boomers win again!
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: September 07, 2019 at 08:26 PM (#5877454)
The NY Rangers had an operatic singer, John Amirante, for the national anthem for many years.

he came out on the ice for Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, and belted out the tune as always - but none of the words could be heard, because of the bloodthirsty frenzy of the crowd (which got its only Cup in the last 79 years a few hours later).
   22. Bote Man Posted: September 08, 2019 at 02:37 AM (#5877520)
The group that tried to arrange a new team for DC set up an exhibition

Yeah, and for most of those they couldn't be bothered to break out the WD-40 and retract the moveable seats, so there were, like 250 foot home runs down the LF line. woo hoo for baseball in the Nation's Crapital. Don't put in too much effort, y'all.
   23. AndrewJ Posted: September 08, 2019 at 09:19 AM (#5877528)
They also staged the national Old-Timers Games at RFK in the early 1980s. At the first one, 75-year-old Luke Appling (who looked about 90) homered off of Warren Spahn.
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 08, 2019 at 12:19 PM (#5877538)
When RFK opened (as DC Stadium), those of us who had gone to Griffith Stadium thought we had died and gone to heaven.

Yes and no. At the time it was considered state of the art, but (a) that only went to show just how low state of the art standards were; and b) Dodger Stadium, which opened the same year, was infinitely better. For baseball, 90% of the time DC Stadium/RFK was like a funeral home, with the Senators playing the part of the corpse before crowds that seldom surpassed four figures for anything but doubleheaders and Yankees games.

And truth be told, if you could get past the food and the parking, Griffith Stadium was a great place to watch baseball, much better than DCS/RFK. You could get lower deck seats behind the plate for $1.50 (or $13.00 in today's money) that were closer to the field than some of the box seats at Nats Park, and multiple public transit options from all over the Metro area made driving unnecessary.

I will always have fond memories of the old dump, Senators, Redskins and Nationals, but its time has come and gone. I told my son that when they get ready to implode it, I plan on being there with a lawn chair, a sub from The Italian Shop and a beer.

I doubt if there's a single Redskins fan who grew up going to RFK who would prefer FedEx, and not just because of Snyder's serial gouging. The enclosed stands and always capacity crowds (with no mass visits from opposing fans) made it one of the most intimidating venues in the entire NFL for visiting teams. All of its defects as a baseball stadium were forgotten during the Allen and Gibbs I eras, because all focus was on the field.

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