Brokedown Palace: RFK Stadium Is a National Treasure, Cracks and All – CityPaper
Robert F. Kennedy Stadium was the home of three Washington teams – Redskins (1961-1997), Senators (1962-71) and Nationals (2005-2007) and is still the home of DC United (1996- ). The “second act” of its life has been as a soccer stadium and that will be its final act as well. When, we’re not sure as DC United tries to get a soccer specific stadium built somewhere. It is a different soccer team though, the U.S. Men’s National Team that is bringing the multi-purpose stadium prototype its final glory.
What newer stadiums have in modern amenities and creature comforts, they frequently lack in atmosphere and character that can only be attained with age. The dented metal floor that makes up much of the 100-level stands is an outdated relic, with an almost unintentional steel drum appearance (and sound). The construction-orange seats, with terrible sight-lines for football but great for soccer, rise and fall at the whim of the excited fans with a soft boom. So many rowdy fans over the years have stood on the seats that they occasionally come crashing down, cracked from more than 50 years of stress. The arc lighting that’s hung at roof level around the stadium gives it a Latin American feel, a rarity in American sports stadia. Many of the bulbs are out, but even those sway ever so slightly when fans go crazy. A broken digital clock hangs over what was home plate for baseball. The awesome creakiness of the place makes RFK feel like an extension of the emotions of the spectators.
A co-worker was at that USMNT win over German on Sunday. He had never been there when it was truly rowdy, so I enlightened him on how it used to rock for Redskins games:
I can still her Pat Summerall saying “RFK STADIUM IS ROCKING” in my head.
In Barry Svrluga’s National Pastime about the 2005 Nats, he mentions that the broadcasters were caught off guard by the press box shaking.
As lovable as RFK is, the facility is simply falling apart. I am still holding out hope that a new DC United stadium can happen soon. When RFK’s time is done, I hope a great sendoff can be given that celebrates all the sports that were played there. That’s an idea for another post.