NPS clears the way for demolition of RFK Stadium

By Rob Hotakainen | 05/02/2024 04:09 PM EDT

The agency said Thursday that it would issue a permit to allow the District of Columbia to proceed with the teardown.

General view of the exterior of  Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

General view of the exterior of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in May 2005 during the Washington Nationals' first season in Washington. Jamie Squire/AFP via Getty Images

The National Park Service has given the green light to a plan to demolish the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, saying a teardown would pose no significant risk to the environment.

After concluding its assessment, NPS said Thursday that it would issue a permit to allow Washington to proceed with the demolition.

“The National Park Service has evaluated the potential effects on the natural, cultural and human environment related to the demolition of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and has determined that the stadium can be demolished,” the agency said in a statement.


NPS said it had issued its official “finding of no significant impact” Monday.

The stadium at 2400 E. Capitol St. NE sits on federal land that’s part of Anacostia Park, but it’s owned by the District of Columbia.

It opened in 1961 but has not been used in the last five years. The stadium made history as the longtime former home of Washington’s NFL team.

When it first opened, the facility was called the D.C. Stadium, but former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall oversaw its renaming in 1969 to honor former New York Democratic Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated during his presidential run a year earlier.

NPS officials said that Events DC, which manages the facility, has already removed stadium seats, equipment and furniture from the site, along with hazardous materials, trash and other debris.

NPS announced last year that it was considering the plan and that it would first seek public feedback before making a determination.

The agency’s assessment outlined two alternatives: one for “no action” that would have kept the stadium standing in a state of disrepair, and the agency’s preferred option to allow the demolition.

NPS recommended that the stadium be torn down because the building “is no longer occupied, repaired, maintained, or otherwise upkept.”

“The proposed action is needed as the RFK Stadium is over 60 years old and has reached the end of its useful life,” the agency said.

Washington’s football team began playing at the site in 1961 and remained there until the end of 1996, when the team — now known as the Washington Commanders — moved to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she’d like to see the Commanders return to the site in the future.

Over the years, the RFK stadium also played host to the Washington Senators, the Washington Nationals, D.C. United and World Cup matches.