Architects explain Washington NFL stadium moat as “gentle transition,” are just trolling us now

Want to know why Washington NFL owner Daniel Snyder’s proposed stadium design has a moat around it? Here’s why it has a moat, courtesy of a Washington Business Journal article titled, “Now we know why Dan Snyder’s stadium has a moat“:

According to Bjarke Ingels Group, the water feature would provide separation between the tailgating area and the stadium (as opposed to a fence or wall), while a series of bridges would act as new gates. “Access becomes a gentle transition between the tailgating and game,” reads the description. If you remember the tunnels from RFK Stadium to the parking lots, it’s not too far removed from that … except for the water part. And as was already revealed in one of the renderings (click through our gallery, above), the moat would in fact double as a wave pool in the summer and an ice rink in the winter.

Um, guys? That doesn’t actually explain why the stadium design has a moat, unless maybe it’s “the Bjarke Ingels Group architects have never been to a sporting event, and think that walking across a narrow bridge with 70,000 other fans to get from tailgating to the game would be a ‘gentle transition.'” Also possibly “the Bjarke Ingels Group architects have never been to D.C., and don’t realize that if it ever snows there, people will more likely be cowering in their homes than going out to ice skate on a frozen moat that will probably plunge them to their deaths at any second, because this isn’t Minnesota, people.”

On the other hand, here it is one month later, and we’re still talking about that damned moat, instead of about who on earth would actually build this thing when the team just got a new stadium 19 years ago. It’s all about the misdirection.

Latest Washington NFL plans feature snow, blimps, people with no idea how to throw a football

We have more renderings of the Washington NFL team‘s insane design for a stadium to be built in a postapocalyptic dreamscape, courtesy of the insane-design website Dezeen, and you know what, I think these are better without commentary:

redskin-stadium-washington-big-usa_dezeen_936_3-new redskin-stadium-washington-big-usa_dezeen_936_5-new redskin-stadium-washington-big-usa_dezeen_1568_5-new redskin-stadium-washington-big-usa_dezeen_936_2-new redskin-stadium-washington-big-usa_dezeen_936_4 redskin-stadium-washington-big-usa_dezeen_936_6If you’re conspiracy-minded, you might focus on the bottom rendering, which appears to show the stadium sited in what’s now a national park just across the District border in Prince George’s County, Maryland — but given that that same image shows the sun apparently setting in the north, probably best not to make too much of it.

Washington NFL team unveils insane stadium with kayak moat, gets on national TV

Washington’s NFL team may not know where it wants to build a stadium or how it would be paid for, but that’s not going to stop them from releasing photos of a model of how it would look, to 60 Minutes for some reason:

ingelsredskinsstadiumbugThat sure looks like something stadium-like all right. Though it doesn’t seem to have any concourse space for buying food inside (just ramps upon ramps, and no escalators or elevators?), and it has a freaking moat around it with people kayaking in it, spanned only by a handful of bridges that are going to be completely overwhelmed by crowds before and after games, and fans will end up being crushed by the crowds and falling into the moat oh god oh god the humanity…

There is zero chance that this stadium will actually be built this way, but the model enables team owner Daniel Snyder to do two things: Get national TV coverage for his campaign to get somebody in the D.C. area to build him a new stadium, and link his team to “starchitect” Bjarke Ingels, which is so much better than being linked to genocide. Meanwhile: vaporkayaks!

Maintenance costs on Nationals Park to bring city’s tab to more than $700m

Dave McKenna at Deadspin has a long article up about Washington, D.C.’s inexplicable love for sports subsidies, mostly focused on the new Wizards practice facility (public cost $55 million plus any overruns, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis’s cost next to nothing) and a possible new stadium for the city’s NFL team. But the most interesting tidbit for me was this:

On the same day when the mayor oversaw the groundbreaking for the Wizards practice space, Events DC head Greg O’Dell testified at a sparsely attended oversight hearing held in the city council chamber that $160 million was earmarked for improvements and repairs to Nationals Park.

Wait, what? When did this happen?

The hearing, it turns out, was on February 18, but as our own frequent commenter PowerBoater69 points out on another site, this isn’t exactly new money: The $160 million is just what D.C. has budgeted for future maintenance and upgrades to the Nationals‘ stadium. You can hear O’Dell’s comments about this starting at 2:40 on the video linked above:

“We conducted a study to look at this very issue, and we frankly are doing it for all our assets. The estimated costs over the remaining life of the stadium is about $160 million.”

So no, it’s not a new subsidy — taking on maintenance costs is something that D.C. agreed to in its original deal with the Nats. But it is a dollar figure for an existing subsidy that hasn’t been previously priced out. Even if you back that number down to a present value of, say, $100 million, then when added to the $611 million in construction funds that D.C. approved ten years ago Tuesday, the total public cost for the Nationals stadium will end up being more than $700 million. On a stadium that was originally supposed to cost $440 million. You elected officials really need to start reading the fine print, guys.

 

D.C. residents give resounding thumbs-down to mayor’s NFL stadium plans

Residents of the area around RFK Stadium really do not like Mayor Muriel Bowser’s idea to use the land for a new NFL stadium:

More than 150 residents of Capitol Hill filled a church gymnasium Wednesday night to propose ideas for re-use of the Robert F. Kennedy stadium property.

Most of the ideas centered around sports: playing fields, a pool, a boathouse, skating rinks, walking trails, even a velodrome.

There was one idea they widely and intensely opposed: building a new stadium for the Redskins. And almost every one of the more than 20 people who stood up to oppose a new NFL stadium did so without saying the team’s name.

Meanwhile, two former National Park Service workers who live near the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital site really do not like Mayor Bowser’s idea to use it for a new Wizards practice facility:

“I don’t think we need it over here,” said Alphonzo Walker, an unemployed 53-year-old who lives in Ward 8.

“I don’t know about this area,” said Eric Clark, also unemployed and in his 50s, though a few years older than Mr. Walker. “What’s going to happen to the homeless who live there?”

Okay, sure, small sample size. Still, the general principle is valid: If you have a plot of available land, and a plan to dedicate a few tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in city money towards it, what’s the best way to generate jobs and other benefits for the surrounding neighborhood, if that’s your goal? Think carefully before you answer.

D.C. mayor says she wants new NFL stadium at RFK site regardless of whether study says it’s a good idea

Brian Flahaven, the D.C. neighborhood commissioner who previously called out councilmember Vincent Orange’s crazy idea for a 100,000-seat NFL stadium on the RFK stadium site as crazy, now reports that Mayor Muriel Bowser has told him that she wants to pursue a new stadium on the NFL site as well — notwithstanding that the city’s stadium authority is in the middle of a study as to whether that makes sense:

When I asked Mayor Bowser to share her vision of the future of the RFK site during a recent meeting with ANC commissioners, she stated her desire to build a new football stadium at the site, calling the Events DC study a fallback plan.

Her rationale? Besides the site’s history of hosting football, Mayor Bowser noted the large size of the site and that a new stadium would not preclude other development activities. She also said that other cities have successfully built stadiums that have fit well into the surrounding neighborhood (though she didn’t mention specific cities or stadiums).

Flahaven doesn’t provide any direct quotes, so it’s impossible to know exactly what Bowser said here. Still, it’s an apparent shift from Bowser’s earlier position that she was looking to Events DC to determine whether the site should be developed “with a stadium or without a stadium.” Not that Bowser is likely to still be mayor when this is decided, given the way D.C. runs through mayors these days, but Washington NFL owner Dan Snyder sure must be happy to have at least one friend in a high place, even if actual D.C. residents seem to think it’s a terrible idea.

Washington NFL team won’t change name for new stadium, still likely to have plenty of stadium offers

Bruce Allen, president of Washington’s NFL team, was asked yesterday whether the team would consider changing its ethnic-slur name if that proved a roadblock to getting a new stadium. Allen’s answer:

“No,” he said.

This is consistent with what Allen’s boss, owner Daniel Snyder, has said all along, so no huge surprise here. It’s likely to be a roadblock to getting a new stadium on the RFK Stadium site in D.C., however, notes ESPN, since the federal government owns that site, and would need to approve a lease extension in order for a new stadium to be built there, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is an avowed opponent of the team name.

This would hardly leave the team high and dry, since, as ESPN notes, “Governors in both Maryland and Virginia have said Washington’s nickname would not be an issue in trying to get a stadium built.” (The team can also always wait out Jewell and see if the next Interior Secretary in 2017 is more amenable.) Also, you know, the team already has a stadium in Maryland that’s just 18 years old. Apparently ESPN doesn’t think that’s remarkable enough to be worth mentioning, though, and given the way things are going in the NFL, maybe it isn’t.

Obama administration won’t allow Washington NFL stadium on RFK site unless team changes name

We all pretty much knew that the Washington NFL team wasn’t going to get a new stadium in D.C. unless it changed its racist nickname, but now it’s official:

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser this spring that the National Park Service, which owns the land beneath Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, was unlikely to accommodate construction of a new stadium for the Redskins unless the team changes its name.

Of course, President Obama is only going to be in office another year and a half, so it’s entirely possible that a new interior secretary would change the NPS policy on this come 2017. And D.C. officials were unlikely to approve a stadium without a name change anyway. But as far as sending a “Mr. Snyder, tear down that nickname!” message, it’s about as strong as they come.

D.C., Maryland, Virginia ready three-way race to throw money at Washington’s next NFL stadium

It’s early yet, but it looks like Washington’s NFL team is setting up for a three-way bidding war to see who’ll get to build the replacement for FedEx Field, which is 18 years old already, why is this taking so long? According to the Washington Post:

[Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe] has pitched multiple sites for a stadium in Loudoun County along the unbuilt second leg of Metro’s Silver Line, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations. Those people say that Virginia officials have also begun discussing infrastructure costs and legal agreements with the team.

Maryland, where the team has played for nearly two decades, has just begun its own effort to keep the Redskins, led by new Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who proclaimed support for the team’s moniker during his campaign. Hogan said he recently pitched Redskins owner Daniel Snyder on staying in Maryland during a two-hour meeting.

D.C., meanwhile, hasn’t had any talks lately with Snyder since people finished laughing at councilmember Vincent Orange’s laughable 100,000-seat stadium plan, but it’s still always on the back burner, especially now that D.C. United will be leaving RFK Stadium, making that site available for a possible future football stadium. Snyder undoubtedly knows that bidding wars are the best way to get politicians to open taxpayers’ wallets with alacrity — it worked amazingly for the Nationals, after all — so he’s starting early.

And in case you’re wondering whether Snyder signed a lease at FedEx Field when it opened in 1997: Sure he did, and it runs through 2027, but that’s not going to stop him from talking about building a new stadium now — especially if he thinks that he can either get a new suitor to help him buy his way out of the end of that lease, or get Maryland to let him break the lease in exchange for not hopping across the state border. This is why “no talking about new stadiums” lease clauses are so important, and why the St. Petersburg city council is absolutely justified in not wanting to let the Tampa Bay Rays out of theirs for cheap.

 

Washington NFL owner wants new DC stadium that “feels like RFK”

Daniel Snyder’s Washington football team has sent out a survey to season ticket holders about what they’d like to see in a new stadium to replace 18-year-old FedEx Field, and blah blah blah, this is an old gimmick to get people excited about the prospect of a new stadium, so really the less said about it the better, unless you really think Snyder is going to decide on how many seats to build based on an email poll. I do like this bit, though:

“We’ve already seen some preliminary drawings, and I’m going to be very retro with it,” Snyder said then. “It’s going to feel like RFK. It’s going to move like RFK.”

Hey, you know where Snyder can get a retro stadium that feels like RFK, cheap? I’ll give you a hint.