Sep 21, 2023 - News

Bill to extend D.C.'s lease for RFK site gains momentum

RFK Stadium aerial view

An aerial view of RFK Stadium when it was still in use. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

A House committee advanced a bill on Wednesday that could one day make possible a football stadium on the RFK site.

Why it matters: D.C. needs Congress to extend the city's lease from the federal government for the 190-acre RFK site to be redeveloped into a mixed-use community — with the potential for a new Commanders stadium.

Driving the news: The bill cleared the Oversight and Reform Committee. Two dozen lawmakers, including committee chair Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), successfully voted down an amendment that would have blocked the use of public funds for a new sports stadium.

  • The failed provision was proposed by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), drawing unexpected support from Maryland Democrats Jamie Raskin and Kweisi Mfume.
  • "That was the most interesting coalition ... [laughter interrupts him] ... in the history of the House. ... We'll be studying that roll call vote for decades," Comer quipped after siding with D.C., per the Washington Post's Meagan Flynn.

The big picture: D.C., Maryland, and Virginia are vying to convince the football franchise to build a new stadium on their land.

  • D.C. needs the 99-year lease extension in order to jumpstart new development on the site.

"There's really one place for the team," Mayor Muriel Bowser, who was on the Hill, said in late July after the team was sold to a group led by Josh Harris.

What to watch: The debate over whether taxpayer dollars should be spent on a stadium could continue as the bill moves through the full House and Senate.


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