Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium

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Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
RFK Stadium
RFKStadiumLogo150.PNG
RFK Stadium
Aerial photo of Robert F.Kennedy Memorial Stadium in 1988, facing the Capitol.
Former namesDistrict of Columbia (D.C.) Stadium (1961–1968)
Location2400 East Capitol St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003 USA
Coordinates38°53′23″N 76°58′18″W / 38.88972°N 76.97167°W / 38.88972; -76.97167Coordinates: 38°53′23″N 76°58′18″W / 38.88972°N 76.97167°W / 38.88972; -76.97167
Public transitStadium–Armory
OwnerDistrict of Columbia
OperatorEvents DC
CapacityBaseball:
43,500 (1961)
45,016 (1971)
45,596 (2005)
Football/Soccer:
56,692 (1961)
45,596 (2005–present) (NCAA/USMNT)
20,000(2012–present) (MLS)
Field sizeLeft Field: 335 ft (102 m)
Left-Center: 380 ft (116 m)
Center Field: 410 ft (125 m)
Right-Center: 380 ft (116 m)
Right Field: 335 ft (102 m)
Backstop: 54 ft (16 m)
SurfaceGrass (Prescription Athletic Turf)
Construction
Broke groundJuly 8, 1960[1]
OpenedOctober 1, 1961
Construction cost$24 million
($189 million in 2014 dollars[2])
ArchitectGeorge Leighton Dahl, Architects and Engineers, Inc.
Structural engineerOsborn Engineering Company
Services engineerEwin Engineering Associates
General contractorMcCloskey and Co.
Tenants
Washington Redskins (NFL) (1961–1996)
George Washington Colonials (NCAA) (1961–1966)
Washington Senators (II) (AL) (1962–1971)
Washington Whips (USA / NASL) (1967–1968)
Washington Darts (NASL) (1971)
Washington Diplomats (NASL / USL1) (1974–1981, 1991)
Team America (NASL) (1983)
Washington Federals (USFL) (1983–1984)
D.C. United (MLS) (1996–present)
Washington Freedom (WUSA) (2001–2003)
Washington Nationals (NL) (2005–2007)
Military Bowl (NCAA) (2008–2012)
Washington Freedom (WPS) (2009–2011)
 
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Not to be confused with John F. Kennedy Stadium.
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
RFK Stadium
RFKStadiumLogo150.PNG
RFK Stadium
Aerial photo of Robert F.Kennedy Memorial Stadium in 1988, facing the Capitol.
Former namesDistrict of Columbia (D.C.) Stadium (1961–1968)
Location2400 East Capitol St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003 USA
Coordinates38°53′23″N 76°58′18″W / 38.88972°N 76.97167°W / 38.88972; -76.97167Coordinates: 38°53′23″N 76°58′18″W / 38.88972°N 76.97167°W / 38.88972; -76.97167
Public transitStadium–Armory
OwnerDistrict of Columbia
OperatorEvents DC
CapacityBaseball:
43,500 (1961)
45,016 (1971)
45,596 (2005)
Football/Soccer:
56,692 (1961)
45,596 (2005–present) (NCAA/USMNT)
20,000(2012–present) (MLS)
Field sizeLeft Field: 335 ft (102 m)
Left-Center: 380 ft (116 m)
Center Field: 410 ft (125 m)
Right-Center: 380 ft (116 m)
Right Field: 335 ft (102 m)
Backstop: 54 ft (16 m)
SurfaceGrass (Prescription Athletic Turf)
Construction
Broke groundJuly 8, 1960[1]
OpenedOctober 1, 1961
Construction cost$24 million
($189 million in 2014 dollars[2])
ArchitectGeorge Leighton Dahl, Architects and Engineers, Inc.
Structural engineerOsborn Engineering Company
Services engineerEwin Engineering Associates
General contractorMcCloskey and Co.
Tenants
Washington Redskins (NFL) (1961–1996)
George Washington Colonials (NCAA) (1961–1966)
Washington Senators (II) (AL) (1962–1971)
Washington Whips (USA / NASL) (1967–1968)
Washington Darts (NASL) (1971)
Washington Diplomats (NASL / USL1) (1974–1981, 1991)
Team America (NASL) (1983)
Washington Federals (USFL) (1983–1984)
D.C. United (MLS) (1996–present)
Washington Freedom (WUSA) (2001–2003)
Washington Nationals (NL) (2005–2007)
Military Bowl (NCAA) (2008–2012)
Washington Freedom (WPS) (2009–2011)

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (originally District of Columbia Stadium (D.C. Stadium), commonly RFK Stadium or RFK) is a multi-purpose stadium, located near the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., United States, and the current home of Major League Soccer team D.C. United, the AT&T Nation's Football Classic,[3] and frequently the United States men's national soccer team.

The stadium was opened in October 1961, as District of Columbia Stadium, and was constructed as a joint venture of the DC Armory Board and the United States Department of the Interior. It is now owned and operated by Events DC (the successor agency to the DC Armory Board), a quasi-public organization affiliated with the city government under a long-term lease from the National Park Service, which owns the land. The lease expires in 2038.[4]

The stadium has been home for a number of major professional sports teams, including the NFL's Washington Redskins (1961 through 1996; moved to FedExField in suburban Maryland), the American League's Washington Senators (1962 through 1971; moved to Arlington, Texas and renamed Texas Rangers), and the National League's Washington Nationals (2005 through 2007; moved to Nationals Park). It has hosted international soccer matches in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, 1996 Summer Olympics and 2003 Women's World Cup. It also hosted a college football bowl game, the Military Bowl, from 2008 to 2012 before that game was moved to Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.[5]

The stadium was renamed in January 1969 for U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated in Los Angeles the previous June.

RFK was one of the first major stadiums designed specifically as a multi-sport facility for both football and baseball. Cleveland Municipal Stadium (1932), Baltimore's Memorial Stadium (1950), and Bloomington Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium (1956) were multi-sport stadiums all of which predated RFK. Metropolitan Stadium opened in 1956 as a venue for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and the minor league baseball Minneapolis Millers, and became a major league baseball stadium with the arrival of the Minnesota Twins in the spring of 1961. RFK Stadium was the first to employ a circular exterior shape.

History[edit]

RFK Stadium was home for 36 seasons to the Redskins, whose return to prominence as a football power began the same year (1960) that the original baseball Senators played their final season, relocating in 1961 to Minnesota as the Twins. The Redskins' first game in D.C. Stadium was a 24–21 loss to the New York Giants on October 1, 1961. The Beatles performed their last concert in Washington D.C., on August 15, 1966, at D.C. Stadium. The team's first win in the stadium was over its future archrival, the Dallas Cowboys, on December 17, 1961. This was the only win in a 1–12–1 season, and it came on the final weekend of the regular season. The Redskins' last win at RFK was a 37–10 victory over the Cowboys on December 22, 1996.

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (then known as District of Columbia Stadium) in 1963.

The stadium hosted its first baseball All-Star Game in its first season of 1962, which was attended by Robert Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy (in whose administration Robert Kennedy served as Attorney General), and the 1969 All-Star Game, which was played in the daytime, after a rainout the night before. It turned out to be the final MLB All-Star Game played during the daytime hours.

Another notable baseball moment occurred in a Cracker Jack Old Timers game in 1982, when 75 year-old Hall of Famer Luke Appling hit a home run. Although he had a .310 lifetime batting average, Appling only hit 45 home runs in 20 seasons. However, because the stadium had not been fully reconfigured, it was just 260 feet (79 m) to the left-field foul pole, far shorter than normal.

In its tenure as the Senators' home field, RFK Stadium was known as a hitters' park. Slugger Frank Howard, a six-foot-seven-inch tall, 255-pound left fielder, hit a number of tape-measure home runs in his career, a few of which landed in the center field area of the upper deck. The seats Howard hit with his home runs are painted white, rather than the gold of the rest of the upper deck. Howard also hit the last home run in the park's original tenure, on September 30, 1971. With one out remaining in the game, a fan riot turned a 7–5 Senators lead over the New York Yankees into a 9–0 forfeit loss. However, in its tenure as the Nationals' home field, RFK was known as a pitchers' park. While Howard hit at least 44 home runs for three straight seasons (1968–70), the 2005 Nationals had only one hitter with more than 15 home runs, José Guillén with 24. However, in his lone season with the team in 2006 Alfonso Soriano hit 46 home runs. During the Nationals' tenure at the stadium, it was the fourth-oldest active stadium in Major League Baseball behind Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium.[6]

From 1993 to 1999 and from 2001 to 2004, former rock radio station WHFS held its annual HFStival rock concert at RFK Stadium.

In November 2013, Events D.C.—the city agency which operates RFK Stadium—began a strategic planning process to study options for the future of the stadium, its 80 acres (320,000 m2) campus, and the nonmilitary portions of the adjacent D.C. Armory. Events D.C. said one option to be studied was demolition within a decade, while another would be the status quo. The strategic planning process also included design and development of options. The agency said that RFK Stadium has generated $4 million to $5 million a year in revenues since 1997, which did not cover operating expenses.[7] In August 2014, Events D.C. chose the consulting firm of Brailsford & Dunlavey to create the master plan.[8]

The stadium was prominently featured in the climax of the film X-Men: Days of Future Past, released in May 2014.[9]

Design[edit]

The stadium's design was perfectly circular, attempting to facilitate both football and baseball. It was the first to use the so-called "cookie-cutter" concept, an approach also used in Philadelphia, New York, Houston, Atlanta, St. Louis, San Diego, Cincinnati, Oakland, and Pittsburgh. Except for the stadiums in Houston, San Diego, and Oakland (the former is still standing but is no longer actively used, while the latter two are still active), RFK Stadium ultimately outlasted all of the aforementioned stadiums.

However, as would become the case with every other stadium where this was tried, the design was not ideal for either sport due to the different shapes and sizes of the playing fields. As the playing field dimensions for football and baseball vary greatly, seating had to accommodate the larger playing surface. In the case of RFK Stadium, this resulted in the first ten rows of the football configuration being nearly at field level, making it difficult to see over the players.

As a baseball park, RFK was a particular target of scorn from baseball purists, largely because it was one of the few stadiums with no lower-deck seats in the outfield. The only outfield seats are in the upper deck, above a high wall. According to Sporting News publications in the 1960s, over 27,000 seats—roughly 60 percent of the listed capacity of 45,000 for baseball—were in the upper tier or mezzanine levels. The lower-to-upper proportion improved for the Redskins, with end-zone seats filling in some of the gaps.

Panoramic view of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

A complex conversion was necessary, at a cost of $40,000 per switch, to convert the stadium from a football configuration to baseball and back again; in its final form, this included rolling the third-base lower-level seats into the outfield along a buried rail, dropping the hydraulic pitcher's mound 3 feet (0.91 m) into the ground, and laying sod over the infield dirt. Later facilities were designed so the seating configuration could be changed much more quickly and at a lower cost. The conversion was only required several times per year during the Senators' joint tenancy with the Redskins, but became much more frequent while the Nationals and D.C. United shared the stadium during the mostly concurrent MLB and MLS seasons; in 2005, the conversion was made more than 20 times. Originally the seats located behind the stadium's third-base dugout would be removed for baseball games and put back in place when the stadium was converted to the football (and later soccer) configuration. When these sections were in place, RFK seated approximately 56,000 fans. Following the Washington Nationals' move to RFK in 2005, this particular segment of the stands was permanently removed to facilitate the switch between the baseball and soccer configurations. These seats were not restored following the Nationals' move to Nationals Park, leaving the stadium's seating capacity at approximately 46,000. D.C. United does not normally make the tickets for the majority of the upper-level seating available for purchase, and the stadium's reduced capacity thus is not normally problematic for the club.

During the years when the stadium was used only for Redskins games, the rotating seats remained in the football configuration. If an exhibition baseball game were scheduled, the left-field wall was only 250 feet (76 m) from home plate, and a large screen was erected in left field for some games.

Some of RFK's quirks endear the venue to fans and players. The large rolling bleacher section is less stable than other seating, allowing fans to jump in rhythm to cause the whole area to bounce. Also, despite its small size (it never seated more than 56,000 people), because of the stadium's design and the proximity of the fans to the field when configured for football, the stadium was extremely loud when the usual sell-out Redskins crowds became vocal. Legend has it that former Redskins coach George Allen would order a large rolling door opened in the side of the stadium when visiting teams were attempting field goals at critical moments in games so that a swirling wind from off the Potomac and Anacostia rivers would interfere with the flight of the kicked ball.

Since the stadium is on a direct sight line with the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol, light towers were not allowed; instead, arc lights were placed on its curved, dipping roof.

Seating capacity[edit]

Baseball[edit]

Football/Soccer[edit]

Dimensions[edit]

Satellite view of stadium in pre-2005 soccer configuration; the darker red seats at the northwest end are not part of the current setup.

The dimensions of the baseball field were 335 feet (102 m) down the foul lines, 380 feet (120 m) to the power alleys and 408 feet (124 m) to center field during the Senators' time. The official distances when the Nationals arrived were identical, except for two additional feet to center field. After complaints from Nationals hitters it was discovered in July 2005 that the fence had actually been put in place incorrectly, and it was 394.74 feet (120.32 m) to the power alleys in left; 395 feet (120 m) to the right-field power alley; and 407.83 feet (124.31 m) to center field. The section of wall containing the 380-foot (120 m) sign was moved closer to the foul lines to more accurately represent the distance shown on the signs but no changes were made to the actual dimensions.

Stadium name[edit]

The stadium was opened in October 1961 as the District of Columbia Stadium (D.C. Stadium for short). The stadium was renamed in January 1969, for U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated in Los Angeles the previous June. As attorney general, Kennedy's Justice Department played a role in the racial integration of the Redskins.[25] Along with Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Kennedy threatened to revoke the team's lease at the federally owned stadium until it promised to sign African American players.[25][26]

On April 14, 2005, just before the Nationals' home opener, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission announced an agreement with the Department of Defense under which the military would pay the city about $6 million for naming rights and the right to place recruiting kiosks and signage in the stadium. In return, the stadium would be dubbed "Armed Forces Field at RFK Stadium".[27] This plan was dropped within days, however, after several prominent members of Congress questioned the use of public funds for a stadium sponsorship.[28]

Similar proposals to sell the naming rights to the National Guard,[27] ProFunds (a Bethesda, Maryland investment company),[28] and Sony[29] were all potential names in 2005 and 2006, but no agreement was ever finalized.

Notable events[edit]

Football[edit]

Baseball[edit]

A Washington Nationals game at RFK, June 2005.

Soccer[edit]

D.C. United after their win in the 2004 MLS Eastern Conference finals
RFK Stadium during a D.C. United soccer match in March 2009

1993 Supercoppa Italiana[edit]

DateTime (EDT)Team #1ScoreTeam #2Attendance
August 21, 19934:00 p.m.Italy A.C. Milan
1992-93 Serie A Winners
1-0Italy Torino
1992-93 Coppa Italia Winners
25,268

1994 FIFA World Cup matches[edit]

DateTime (EDT)Team #1ScoreTeam #2RoundAttendance
June 19, 19944:00 p.m. Norway1–0 MexicoGroup E52,395
June 20, 19947:30 p.m. Netherlands2–1 Saudi ArabiaGroup F50,535
June 28, 199412:30 p.m. Italy1–1 MexicoGroup E52,535
June 29, 199412:30 p.m. Belgium0–1 Saudi ArabiaGroup F52,959
July 2, 19944:30 p.m. Spain3–0 SwitzerlandRound of 1653,121

1996 Olympic Football Men's tournament matches[edit]

DateTime (EDT)Team #1ScoreTeam #2RoundAttendance
July 20, 19963:00 p.m. Portugal2–0 TunisiaGroup A34,796
July 21, 199612:00 p.m. South Korea1–0 GhanaGroup C45,946
July 22, 19967:30 p.m. Argentina1–1 PortugalGroup A25,811
July 23, 19969:00 p.m. Ghana3–2 ItalyGroup C27,849
July 24, 19967:30 p.m. United States1–1 PortugalGroup A58,012
July 25, 19969:00 p.m. Mexico1–1 GhanaGroup C30,237

1996 Olympic Football Women's tournament matches[edit]

DateTime (EDT)Team #1ScoreTeam #2RoundAttendance
July 21, 19963:00 p.m. Norway2–2 BrazilGroup B45,946
July 23, 19966:30 p.m. Norway3–2 Germany28,000
July 25, 19966:30 p.m. Norway4–0 Japan30,237

MLS Cup '97[edit]

DateTime (EDT)Team #1ScoreTeam #2Attendance
October 26, 19975:00 p.m.D.C. United2–1Colorado Rapids57,431

MLS Cup 2000[edit]

DateTime (EDT)Team #1ScoreTeam #2Attendance
October 15, 20002:00 p.m.Kansas City Wizards1–0Chicago Fire39,159

2002 MLS All-Star Game[edit]

DateTeam #1ScoreTeam #2Attendance
August 3, 2002MLS All-Stars3-2 United States31,096

2003 FIFA Women's World Cup matches[edit]

DateTime (EDT)Team #1ScoreTeam #2RoundAttendance
September 21, 200312:30 p.m. United States3–1 SwedenGroup A34,144
September 21, 20033:15 p.m. Brazil3–0 South KoreaGroup B34,144
September 24, 20035:09 p.m. Norway1–4 Brazil16,316
September 24, 20037:45 p.m. France1–0 South Korea16,316
September 27, 200312:45 p.m. France1–1 Brazil17,618
September 27, 20033:30 p.m. Argentina1–6 GermanyGroup C17,618

2004 MLS All-Star Game[edit]

DateGameTeam #1ScoreTeam #2Attendance
July 31, 2004Game 1 of 2United States U.S. 1994 World Cup Squad2-2United Nations MLS International Stars21,378
Game 2 of 2East3-2West

MLS Cup 2007[edit]

DateTime (EST)Team #1ScoreTeam #2Attendance
November 18, 200712:00 p.m.New England Revolution1–2Houston Dynamo39,859

2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup matches[edit]

DateTeam #1ScoreTeam #2RoundAttendance
8 July 2009 Haiti2–0 GrenadaGroup B56,692
 United States2–0 Honduras

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup matches[edit]

DateTeam #1ScoreTeam #2RoundAttendance
June 19, 2011 Jamaica0–2 United StatesQuarter-finals45,424
 Panama1–1 (5-3 pen) El Salvador

United States Men's National Team matches[edit]

The United States Men's National Soccer Team has played more games at RFK Stadium than any other stadium in the world.[38] Some have suggested that due to the nature of RFK and its quirkiness that it would be a suitable national stadium if US Soccer were ever to seek one out.[39][40] Several prominent members of the national team have scored at RFK including: Brian McBride, Cobi Jones, Eric Wynalda, Joe-Max Moore, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Landon Donovan. Winners are listed first.

DateCompetitionTeamScoreTeamAttendance
October 6, 1977Friendly China PR1–1 United StatesUnknown
May 12, 1990FriendlyNetherlands AFC Ajax1–1 United States18,245
October 19, 1991Friendly North Korea2–1 United States16,351
May 30, 19921992 U.S. Cup United States3–1 Republic of Ireland35,696
October 13, 1993Friendly Mexico1–1 United States23,927
06-18, 19951995 U.S. Cup United States4–0 Mexico38,615
October 8, 1995Friendly United States4–3 Saudi Arabia10,216
June 12, 19961996 U.S. Cup Bolivia2–0 United States19,350
November 3, 19961998 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF) United States2–0 Guatemala30,082
October 3, 19971998 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF) Jamaica1–1 United States51,528
May 30, 1998Friendly Scotland0–0 United States46,037
June 13, 1999Friendly United States1–0 Argentina40,119
June 3, 20002000 U.S. Cup United States4–0 South Africa16,570
September 3, 20002002 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF) United States1–0 Guatemala51,556
September 1, 20012002 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF) Honduras3–2 United States54,282
May 12, 2002Friendly United States2–1 Uruguay30,413
November 17, 2002Friendly United States2–0 El Salvador25,390
October 13, 20042006 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF) United States6–0 Panama22,000
October 11, 20082010 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF) United States6–1 Cuba20,249
July 8, 20092009 CONCACAF Gold Cup United States2–1 Honduras26,079
October 14, 20092010 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF) Costa Rica2–2 United States36,243
June 19, 20112011 CONCACAF Gold Cup United States2–0 Jamaica45,424
June 2, 2013US Soccer Centennial Match United States4–3 Germany47,359

Boxing[edit]

Concerts[edit]

Motor sports[edit]

Volunteer service[edit]

Washington Hall of Stars[edit]

During the Redskins' tenure, the Washington Hall of Stars was displayed on a series of white-and-red signs hung in a ring around the stadium's mezzanine, honoring D.C. sports greats from various sports. With the reconfiguration of the stadium, it was replaced by a series of dark-green banners over the center-field and right-field fences in order to make room for out-of-town scoreboards and advertising signage. There are 15 separate panels honoring 82 figures. Nationals Park also hosts a smaller version of the display.

To the right of Panel 15 are four banners honoring D.C. United's MLS Cup wins: 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2004. To the right of these banners is D.C. United's "Tradition of Excellence" banner, which honors John Harkes and Marco Etcheverry. To the left of those banners are four banners honoring D.C. United's MLS Supporters Shield wins: 1997, 1999, 2006 and 2007.

Public transportation[edit]

RFK Stadium is within a half-mile and easily accessible from the Stadium-Armory station of the Washington Metro. The station is served by the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines. It is also served directly by Metrobus lines B2, D6, E32 (at Eastern High School), 96 and 97.

Food vendors[edit]

RFK Stadium is home to such eateries as:

Tenants[edit]

Current[edit]

Former[edit]

‡ Part-time

In Popular Culture[edit]

In the 2014 superhero film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, the super villain, Magneto, uses his powers to levitate the stadium, and drops it around the White House, for use as a barrier, during the film's climax.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

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  50. ^ RFK Stadium – A Historic Venue. eaglebankbowl.org
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