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Eeny, meeny, miny, moe: Where will the Washington football team’s new stadium go?
Sportscaster Chris Myers reports that the Pigskins will unveil their plan for an “open-air stadium” this month, although a location is still being determined. Residents have long wondered whether the District, Maryland, or Virginia will land the team once they relocate from FedExField, in Landover.
Putting that hugely important question aside, sources now tell Sports Business Daily that Bjarke Ingels Group has contracted with the Pigskins to design the stadium. Founded by the eponymous Danish architect, the firm has designed the forthcoming Two World Trade Center in New York and Google’s Mountain View campus. BIG may also be familiar to D.C. residents who went through its maze at the National Building Museum in 2014. (An emailed request for comment to the design firm Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.) In addition, the Washington Post reports that “an official familiar with the decision” confirmed BIG’s on-boarding.
Two months ago, as City Paper contributor Kriston Capps pointed out on Twitter, Bjarke Ingels posted a picture of Washington football team-themed M&Ms on Instagram:
A photo posted by Bjarke ingels (@bjarkeingels) on
The architect’s candy-coated hint may suggest he’s partnered with the Pigskins, but doesn’t give any clues as to where his creation will end up. As ANC 6B09 Commissioner Brian Flavahen notes, however, there may still be a “major obstacle” preventing it from entering D.C.: the U.S. Department of the Interior, led by Secretary Sally Jewell, owns the land beneath RFK Stadium (floated as a logical spot for an NFL arena) and has indicated it would not cooperate with the Pigskins unless the team changes its name. (Fat chance: It recently won a victory—by proxy—in its ongoing trademark debate.)
City Desk contacted DOI about its to-date position but hasn’t heard back.
“My hope would be that we don’t use the RFK site for a stadium,” says Flavahen, who lives near it. “I think there are a lot better uses for it; an NFL stadium would only be used a few times a year. I’d rather see my city invest in schools, economic development that’s actually going to produce jobs.” (Other officials have made similar remarks.)
Meanwhile, District sports authority Events DC is set to release a “holistic conceptual plan for the iconic [RFK] Campus” by architecture firm OMA this month. OMA previously won another design bid in D.C.: that for the 11th Street Bridge Park.
Update 7:40 p.m.: A spokesperson for DOI provided the following statement on behalf of the agency:
Secretary Jewell has been clear that she believes the Washington football team’s name is a relic of the past and should be changed. Extending the terms of the city’s lease, which expires in 2038, would require an act of Congress. There is no proposal before the Interior Department currently, and we would need to review the specifics of any proposal, including legislative, before making a determination as to whether the Department could support an extension.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery