Washington and the sporting world was abuzz this week with release of concept drawings for a new Washington Redskins football stadium including a moat. The idea of a moat around a football stadium seems mostly stupid until you think about it and the big question remains: where will this stadium be located?
Despite some evidence to the contrary the Redskins could naturally end up back in Washington, D.C. and perhaps these stadium designs hint at waterway access. Is it possible that on on the other side of that stadium moat is the Anacostia? Two potential sites along the Anacostia could allow kayaker access from the river. For anyone who grew up in the era of Barry Bonds, watching kayakers on tv chase his home run balls in Covey Cove, the vision of waterway access may be enticing.
Football stadiums are immense buildings with a depth of amenities that are used for their primary purpose only eight to ten days a year. The new Los Angeles Rams stadium, being built in the flight path of Los Angeles International Airport, is designed for secondary use as a concert venue and by film studios for release parties and contains two year-round nightclubs (located in the stadium’s corners.) That site is an old racetrack, and there are available closed or closing tracks in the flight path of Dulles International Airport. Virginia’s governor has gone so far as to say, “It’s where they belong.”
Did you like the music in the movie Gravity? Watch this video fly-through of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, opening in 2017.
Smart money is probably that the team stays in Maryland, possibly even on the same site (as the Yankees did for their new stadium.) To their economic benefit, The Baltimore Symphony created a southern home in Bethesda at Strathmore serving the wealthy suburbs of DC. With their home in Maryland the Washington team competes favorably with Maryland’s Baltimore Ravens for hometown allegiance. The Washington team would lose that comparative advantage with a move to the District or Virginia, and there’s no similar competition to the South.
The stadium design released this week adheres to some recenttrends, including transparency of the façade and multi-utility, but ignores others. It has no roof or massive scoreboard screen. This design asks to be considered an amenity when games are not occurring, with park space and waterways to be used year round, and this sports stadium isn’t the only cultural facility trying to broaden participation through addition of outdoor activity space. Last week a major North Carolina museum released its design including a park as an extension of the museum. When all is said and done who knows where it will be built and a moat: not so shabby.