WASHINGTON - Washington D.C. scored a big win Wednesday in its drive to get control of the land at RFK Stadium.
After two days of testimony, a House panel voted to approve a bill letting D.C. take the lead on a redevelopment at RFK, which might include a new Washington Commanders stadium.
The bill still needs approval from the full House but make no mistake, this is a major hurdle that was cleared today as D.C.’s been trying for years to get control of the land the stadium stands on, which is currently owned by the federal government.
The House Oversight Committee voted 31-9 to approve H.R. 4984 "The D.C. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act.,"
The bill extends D.C.’s lease on the property for 99 years. Chairman of the Oversight Committee, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who has spared with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser over crime, cosponsored the bill with D.C. delegate Elanor Homes Norton.
"Under the lease, DC could use the land for stadium purposes, commercial and residential development, recreation or open space or additional public purposes," Comer said.
"We have several examples of how to do stadiums and they have all been successful and we just know that we have a great site," Bowser said.
RFK Stadium was home of professional football in D.C. from the early 60s until the mid-1990s. Legendary former Washington player Doc Walker tells FOX 5 that a new stadium for the Commanders at RFK could recreate the old stadium’s energy and history.
"I could be even more impactful and with new technology they could build it in a way that would make it even louder and that’s what I hope would be able to see," Walker said.
But D.C. Councilman Charles Allen says what the District needs is more housing, not a new stadium.
"You’re going to be hard-pressed to find somebody who’s going to argue louder and harder that we should not be putting our public tax dollars, your public tax dollars into building NFL stadiums for billionaires," Allen said.
There was a brief argument in the committee over an amendment that would have prevented any tax dollars from being used on a stadium but that amendment failed.
A clearly annoyed Mayor Bowser later accused members of the Maryland delegation — which is also in the running to become the new home of the Commanders — of trying to "handcuff" D.C.