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Not out of commission
But selling will be tough. RFK is 47 years old, making it a secondary choice for many concerts and events. And the commission has estimated it will cost $6.25 million to add air conditioning, improve lighting and upgrade restrooms at the D.C. Armory to make it an attractive place for events. Early plans call for renovating the Armory to make it suitable for concerts and some sports, but the improvements likely will require a private partner.
“It’s a 68-year-old building,” Moses said. “It has the issues you would expect. It’s going to cost something, and we’re not in a position to put a lot of capital dollars into the building right now.”
Commission officials appear resigned to attracting smaller-scale events.
“I don’t want to be the guy who runs out and tries to chase the Janet Jackson concert for five months when there’s no way in hell Janet Jackson’s going to play RFK or the Armory,” Moses said. “You could spin your wheels chasing events you’re not real well-suited for.”
Commission officials said they know D.C. United will move into a new soccer-specific stadium within the next several years. Once that happens, the commission must decide whether to continue using RFK to attract events or consider demolishing it.
“We’re right at that point of ‘What do we do with this facility?’” Cutts said. “We have a number of ideas floating around, but none of them have any more traction than the next.”
One proposal Hall and council member Jack Evans championed calls for RFK to be demolished and replaced by a new, retractable-roof stadium for the Redskins. But that idea has yet to progress beyond cocktail party chatter.
“We’re still working through it,” Cutts said. “One thing we want to do is find out what we could offer [the Redskins]. Until we know that, there’s no point in having a conversation with them. It’s certainly something that we think we’d be willing to put some time and effort into it.”
And for now, commission members aren’t allowing ambition to outpace their abilities.
“Matthew and I play this game all the time, where we bat big ideas back and forth about what we could do,” Moses said. “And we could throw 100 of them up against a wall every day, and I could spend a bazillion hours chasing each of those.
“But if we don’t have the team and resources to pursue those kinds of initiatives, I don’t want to be accused of wasting valuable time and resources on something that is unlikely to happen. On the other hand, I do want to think big. So I think that will be the challenge, figuring out how we swing for the fences but maybe not every time we come up to bat.”
About the Author
Tim Lemke has been the sports business reporter for The Washington Times since 2005, writing on a wide variety of issues ranging from the construction of the Washington Nationals new ballpark to steroid hearings on Capitol Hill. He writes a weekly column titled “SportsBiz” and maintains a blog with the same name. Highlights of his career include playing some very ...
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