Over the weekend, news broke that DC officials may be negotiating behind the scenes with the Trump administration to grease the wheels for a new stadium for the Washington professional football team.
According to the Washington Post, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Councilmember Jack Evans, Trump officials, and Congressional Republicans are trying to put a rider in the federal spending bill that would make it easier to build a new stadium at the current RFK site.
Unfortunately, nobody knows what it really says. According to the report, it could actually give DC more flexibility about what to put there. Or, it might exempt development plans from local review, or even prohibit any plans for the site that don't include a stadium. We don't know.
Bowser and Evans are working in secret and refusing to comment. That secrecy means the public may only see the final language less than 72 hours before the bill is rushed through the lame-duck session. We know the team's owner Dan Snyder is trying to push the idea, and he's long salivated about a public land giveaway for his benefit.
Football stadiums in particular have been proven to be a bad deal for cities . Since they're used only 8-12 times a year and require a lot of space for tailgating, they almost always scar rather than meld into the urban fabric. Maybe there are ways to do better, and some designs the public has glimpsed have interesting elements.
In fact, many neighbors have been actively pushing for housing and commercial development at RFK for some time, and some on twitter have said that maybe they'd consider a privately-funded stadium in a compromise for the site. But many others vehemently oppose a stadium, and no matter what the details of the final deal matter.
Maybe a good compromise is possible here, but that's not going to happen without open and public discussion about the best use of the site, including whether to include affordable housing, whether to include a stadium, and most of all, how to ensure the city doesn't sign a really bad deal.
Secretly pushing a measure without public input is a breach of the public trust, particularly when it's done for the benefit of a billionaire NFL owner with a record of bad behavior and a racist team name.
Help us send a message to officials to day and tell Bowser, Evans, and Delegate Norton: DC shouldn't negotiate in secret for a stadium giveaway.