Washington DC

New study shows economic impact of potential NFL stadium in the District

Report comes amid debate on whether to bring the Commanders back to the RFK Stadium site

NBC Universal, Inc.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration has unveiled a new study examining the economic impact of sports arenas in the District and the potential benefits of bringing an NFL team back to the city. 

The report, conducted by two private firms, comes as Bowser refocuses efforts to relocate the Washington Commanders to the site of the old RFK Stadium. 

D.C. Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Nina Albert highlighted the study’s findings, noting the substantial economic activity generated by existing sports venues. 

“If we take a look at the numbers,” Albert said, “we’re generating close to $5 billion in economic activity for the city from soccer, baseball, hockey, basketball, etc.”

Albert further emphasized the positive net benefits that an NFL stadium could bring to the District. 

“Our experience with other sports stadiums embedded within neighborhoods shows that having the NFL in D.C. would yield positive net benefits,” Albert added. “We estimate $1.26 billion in total economic benefit to the city from construction and ongoing operations.” 

While the study presents a favorable outlook on the economic impact of sports teams, it notably lacks consideration of potential downsides such as traffic congestion and environmental impacts. Additionally, the report appears to rely on pre-COVID-19 data when referencing retail and commercial office space and rental rates. 

Addressing these concerns, Albert noted the long-term trends in rent growth despite market fluctuations. 

“Most of our sports arenas have been invested in for over 20 years, showing a track record of rent growth,” she said. “You have to look at trend lines over a 20-year period to understand the impact fully.” 

The study suggests that without the construction of a new NFL stadium at RFK, no other development would likely occur at the site. 

“The introduction of a stadium accelerates development,” Albert said. “We are in a complex time in the real estate industry, with bottlenecks and post-pandemic recovery. A stadium could catalyze development in this area.”

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