WASHINGTON — After a Week 2 matchup with the Denver Broncos, the Commanders are now set to return to FedEx Field for a Week 3 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. But the next big Commanders battleground will not be on a football field at all, but rather on Capitol Hill.
This week, a pair of Congressional committees are set to debate a bill that would open the door for the development of RFK into a mixed-use property, which could include a possible Commanders stadium. On Tuesday, the RFK Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act will get its first public hearing in front of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on federal lands.
The next day, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability will debate the bill in a scheduled 'markup', announced by Chairman James Comer (R-KY). The bill would 'transfer the administrative jurisdiction' of RFK from the Secretary of the Interior to the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), allowing the city to revitalize the site.
The bill would extend D.C.'s lease with the federal government for 99 years and would allow the city to pursue mixed-use development on the RFK site, which could include commercial properties, housing projects, or even a stadium.
Mayor Muriel Bowser (D-District of Columbia) has been a vocal supporter of the RFK re-development plan and spoke one-on-one with CBS' James Brown last week.
“We promised that we have to get RFK back,” she said, standing in front of the iconic stadium.
Bowser said an RFK re-development would be a return home, to where the team played its Super Bowl seasons. She said RFK was the 'little stadium that could,' where the 'bleachers would rock.'
"It also was a place - you know - that kind of brought a disparate Washington together,” she said.
The proposal has been met with mixed opinions from local leaders. Following the team's sale, WUSA9 reached out to every local leader, and documented the responses received. Some leaders like Councilman Kenyan McDuffie have indicated their support for an RFK stadium, writing that the city must "work together to bring the team home."
"With a renewed focus on community engagement and social impact initiatives," he said. "The team's presence in the nation's capital has the potential to extend far beyond the playing field. The team located at a reimagined RFK with housing, open space, entertainment venues and more, could provide jobs and economic opportunities for residents and small businesses now and well into the future."
Other local leaders were less enthused with the plan, including Councilman Charles Allen, who sent the following statement, following the team sale:
"...as much as I'll cheer for the team on Sundays, dedicating a massive piece of land and millions of tax dollars to a new NFL stadium remains a bad deal for the District. These types of stadiums are shown to waste public money and be bad economic investments for taxpayers. Instead of a stadium to be used eight days a year, I'd rather our city build housing, parks, retail, and jobs that will benefit the District of Columbia every day of the year."
Neighbors in the Hill East neighborhood remain split as well. Former ANC Commissioner Denise Krepp has been vocally against a stadium development.
"Why would we open up a facility that only opens up eight times a year," she said. "That’s a lot of space that could be used for housing.”
Krepp said she would be especially opposed to the plan if city funding was on the table.
“We have a finite tax base and money doesn’t grow on trees," she said. "So where does the money come from for this. And if we spend it, what will we not spend it on.”
On this gameday Sunday, WUSA9 spoke with neighbors in Hill East and heard a mix of opinion.
Jeff Clair, from Capitol Hill, said he was against 'subsidizing billionaire football team owners.' Neighbor Martha Assefa agreed, arguing that public money should be used on 'something more impactful' like housing. Denzel Robinson from Hill East said he'd be on board with a Commanders Stadium saying it could 'bring new life' to the area. Neighbor Sean Jones argued a new stadium would be better than the current decaying stadium.
"I would love for them to do something with it," he said. "I just feel like it’s such a great space.”
If you want to see how local leaders feel about this plan, click here to see a running list of responses.