Loose Lips

The 5 Strangest Parts of Vincent Orange’s RFK Stadium Plan

vo_oneMayoral hopeful Vincent Orange earned some attention last month with his pitch for a sports entertainment complex centering on a rebuilt, 100,000-seat RFK Stadium. But the actual text of the bill, highlighted recently by ANC6B commissioner Brian Flahaven, is even better.

Orange's extraordinarily specific bill tasks the District with studying the feasibility of building a complex around RFK that would include—deep breath here—a commercial strip, a PGA-level golf course, a movie soundstage, a "hotel zone," an indoor waterpark, and a "film and photography center." And he's not the only one on board—the bill has earned the backing of fellow councilmembers Marion BarryAnita BondsJim GrahamYvette Alexander, and Orange mayoral rival Jack Evans.

LL has to wonder why they want to spend the money, though, since Orange seems to have the whole thing figured out already. His bill's language details everything from what should be sold at different restaurants to the minimum square footage of various attractions, as thought he thinks that if he doesn't lay down the dimensions of each attraction the District will swap in a sports entertainment complex for ants.

Below, the highlights of the Orangedrome.

The Stadium

Orange's reimagined RFK, with more than double its current seating capacity, would play host to everything from FIFA soccer matches to mixed-martial arts bouts. But that's not all! There'll be a music venue honoring Marvin Gaye, and another for Chuck Brown. The stadium will have "a District-themed sport store specializing in merchandise and apparel featuring national and international sports teams."

The Chain Stores

A shopping area attached to the stadium must include "two nationally recognized department stores," a beer garden, a 24-hour diner, and a spot for food trucks. Orange's mania for "nationally recognized" businesses extends to his nightclub specifications (one), "high-end restaurant," (one) "movie theater and cinema chain," (one) and "family restaurant chains" (two).

"The bill is silent on whether the beer garden must be nationally recognized," Flahaven writes. It does also provide for "at least one" independently owned restaurant.

The Hotel Zone

All these athletes, fans, and shopaholics will rest in Orange's "hotel zone," which he's also helpfully sketched out! Orange wants one five-star hotel with at least 400 rooms, and another five-star "boutique hotel establishment" with at 150 rooms. Add to that a three-star hotel with 500 rooms.

The hotel zone will also come with a 24-hour spa (are you listening, Spa World?), a "health conscience (sic) cafe," a professional athlete-caliber gym, and a tanning salon.

Golf Course

Orange wants the city to redevelop public Langston Golf Course into a PGA championship-level course. But that's not all. Orange wants the redeveloped Langston to include a museum honoring D.C. golf (including "multimedia quizzes" and "interactive kiosks") and new restaurants including one that must come with an "adjoining wine bar." "The District of Columbia is a thriving city with an increasing population," the bill notes. "As a world class city, the District deserves a world class golf course."

Everything Else

It's a testament to the specificity of Orange's bill that provisions for an indoor waterpark, the waterpark's own hotel, and a movie soundstage don't stand out that much. But rest assured—per Orange's legislation, the soundstage will have a ballroom.

Read the whole bill here:

Photos by Darrow Montgomery/Graphic by Will Sommer

  • Yellow Blanket

    Why do they want to spend the money? Maybe ego has something to do with it. Seeing their name on something.

    Oh the poor people of Washington. Misled so many times. We had a winning team at RFK so of course we have to relocate them. Talk to the people who used to have tickets at that stadium to watch the Redskins. You'll hear that there was something special there. So yes - kill it. Kill the specialness. Kill the homefield advantage. Of course, it's not just about winning football teams. It's about local pride - kill that too.

    There were few places as ideal as RFK to play home games.

    We don't need all the bells and whistles. Just get the basics right and grow with integrity. Don't overlay some stupid luxury this or that, some 200,000 SF monstrosity, 10 story pile of ess on top of anything. It will just die from its own weight.

  • Gordon

    5 Strangest Parts??

  • Count Me In

    Finally, a councilmember with a plan to even the playing field in terms of jobs, economic development and attractiveness east of the river.

    Taxpayers in other parts of the city would only complain because this plan focuses on giving the black community something to be proud of and all the luxuries that Uptown has.

    I support this plan!

  • SEis4ME

    Well if this doesn't prove that certain CM's will be mocked regardless of what they do, I don't know what will.

    Vincent Orange being mocked over what has been described as a "detailed plan." Gotta love the living pinatas our media continues to manufacture.

  • Corky

    While we are making wish lists for RFK, how about a winning football team with a name that doesn't stereotype a race of people? Can we make it illegal for the Redskins to suck so bad?

  • son of Washington

    First off this wouldn't be east of the river. Second if you aren't native American as we i am you can't speak for a race. Hell my family has always loved the skins and I can't speak for the race of people. You can always tell whites.

  • FunnyReports

    @SonOfWashington let's be serious. Once you go pass the Aldi store, you are pretty much in the SE side of DC. Northeast is broken into two sections: The Uptown part of NE (Brookland, Riggs Park, Rhode Island etc.) and then the SE part of Northeast (Benning Rd, Minnesota Ave, Kenilworth etc.)

    I do think this will equal the playing field for the city, being as though "Wal-Mart" was the only thing Gray could managed to get on that side of town.

  • DCShadyBoots

    I think it is a good idea. A world better than what sits on the reservation now. It brings quality economic development to the neighborhood and tax revenue to the city.

  • noodlez

    BAMMA WANT TO BUILD 5 STAR ATTRACTION HERE SO HE DOESN'T HAVE TO TRAVEL AND SUBMIT EXPENSE REPORTS TO TRACK HIS COMINGS AND GOINGS.

  • Drez

    Rather than being "a detailed plan", this is a naked amalgamation of wants by various (well intentioned!) special interest groups VO has been in contact with.
    It's pandering. Unrealistic and forced.

  • TassieTiger

    Ridiculous.

    I love the idea of WANTING many of these things to exist and thrive within the district, but study after study show how much of a terrible investment 'sports/entertainment districts' of this sort are for cities...and that's even if private owners are the ones to pony up the costs of construction! Coming from someone who works in economic development and is usually entirely will liberals/progressives/Democrats in my ideological views, this kind of thing DOES NOT PAN OUT to provide more benefits than costs.

    When condensed altogether and centered around a few large businesses, sports/entertainment venues provide extremely little locally captured wealth, nor do they help drive economic diversification. In fact, they generally encourage an increase in the percentage of long term wage-earners and consolidate profits into the hands of the already VERY wealthy. A sports/entertainment venue that is integrated into a traditional neighborhood and draws its patrons from further afield, however, brings otherwise unlikely revenues to locally-owned small businesses. THAT helps encourage economic development.

    I applaud Mr. Orange for thinking big. But instead of betting on a Hail Mary that has far more potential downside than potential upside, he should be finding the piece-by-piece investments that have less downside than upside. That would help the District and the residents of SE more globally competitive.

  • Jes’ sayin

    They forgot the SpacePort, the indoor ski slope (like the one in Dubai), and the parking lot for flying vehicles like you see in the Jetsons. Otherwise, it pretty much covers everyone's needs.

  • Logic

    I like the sound of it. We would be able to hold music events, super bowls, and PGA Golf Tournaments in the city.

    I think Orange's plan overall is a pretty damn good one. If anyone doesn't agree, then you are simply small minded and really do not want economic development where it is needed most.

    Perhaps it will be good enough to get the Washington Redskins back into DC!

  • SEis4ME

    @Corky, I don't know whole lot. But I do know that it's probably NOT a good idea to complain about a "racial slur" then turn right back around and use the same slur..Redskins.

  • double income no money

    No olympic (50 m) natatorium! A huge oversight. Guess VO doesn't swim.

  • VO is a Moron

    Vincent Orange has a brain the size of a walnut.

  • Kyle-w

    Well, apparently I am small minded and do not want economic development where it is needed most.

    I can't believe people are even taking this thing seriously. Worse, there are people who think this is the best idea since sliced bread!

  • Southern Ave

    So you mean to tell me Orange wants to bring Hotels, Waterparks, Movie Soundstage, Music Venue dedicated to Go-Go, PGA Golf Course, Retail Shops, A Sports Store plus more to that RFK area and yall don't want it?

    Please sign a petition so that when this plan goes into effect they can ban you fools and your families for not thinking this is a great idea.

    Not a single person who complains about jobs or nothing being available in the lower income communities should be opposed to this plan.

    This is the type of plan Vincent Gray should've had the Balls to propose.

    You all sound pathetic!

  • ChristmasCheer

    Watch a few of the Council hearings online that Vincent Orange chairs, his committee, if you care to do so. I give Mr. Orange credit for thinking big picture, for having a vision of what might be possible and how to get there.

    Had others not done the same a few years ago, the SE waterfront would still be rundown industrial buildings, vacant lots and strip clubs, north of Union Station would be full of blight. What we now call Penn Quarter was another wasteland by and large. Believe it or not, brilliant and flawed Marion Barry* had the vision and first got the ball rolling in Penn Quarter. (*Pope Francis might add, "Who am I to judge?")

    Orange has a vision and thinks strategically. That cannot be said of the majority of members of the city council. He's an attorney, an auditor and a CPA. He knows numbers.

    Back in the early 1960s, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) was among many who wanted to do something about the formerly seedy Pennsylvania Avenue NW between the White House and the Capitol. It was not that long ago that prostitutes trolled 14th Street by the dozens above Thomas Circle, 14th Street was scary at night, so much of the city was a rundown mess, destroyed by the 1968 riots that led to increased white and black middle class flight to the suburbs.

    Crazy as it sounds, I give Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Marion Barry credit for beginning the transformation of Washington DC that we now are so used to seeing around us. Heck, Marion welcomed white moneyed interests with open arms while claiming he was good at talking up to "The Man" when back in the 'hood.

    Heck, Georgetown near the Potomac waterfront was scary and crime-ridden in the 1950s.

    If it were not for the people with vision and the ability to bring the resources together, DC would still be in very bad shape.

    Cheers for Orange - even only half of what he wants gets done. He also connects his visions with jobs and increasing the tax base and voter in the long run. Complaints?

    Now if we can keep on top of improving the schools...

  • Guy Smiley

    The irony of someone named "Corky" speaking on anything let alone the name of our beloved football team.

  • LookAtTheRealCost

    Seriously the debate here is hilarious. Don't you think that if this was a viable solution economic forces would have created a PGA course, soundstage, and nationally recognized dept store already?

    Do you not think that national stores do their own research on where they can put stores to make their money?

    Does everyone realize that the residents of MD are kicking themselves for all the taxpayer money they blew on FEDEX and how the revenue goes to Synder and not them?

    Anyone can make an over zealous wish list. Show me how this will help the city. Show me how this will not cost taxpayer dollars. Show me how those national store profits will return to the city.

    Get off the idea of "this city deserves" and then stop linking deserves with locations to spend money. Those two don't go together. When you invest you deserve returns... Stores promote Spending.. not investment.

    And no national level store/course/etc has anything to do with giving back to the community.. Thats what SMB does.

  • Marvin E. Adams

    @LookAtTheRealCost: Outstanding post! I am emboldened by the fact that there appears to be a few individuals within this great city of ours, who think logically, void emotions, innuendo and hyperbole.

    That said, all your points are vaild and on point. However, I would add that if, for some strange reason, this grand scheme morhped into something tangible, besides the present wish list, and/or pie-in-the-sky dreams, it would be that of creating JOBS. Jobs and affordable housing are spoken of during EVERY election cycle, but as you are probably keenly aware, the present cadre of elective officials just can't seem to get 'er done.

  • Mike Madden

    @SEis4ME:

    The problem with this level of specificity in a proposal for a study is that the legislation already makes all the choices that would ordinarily go into development -- to an absurd degree. The bill doesn't call for studying the general idea of a domed stadium and associated hotel/entertainment district; it specifies how many national chain stores will be there and that there must be a wine bar attached to the golf course. It moots the whole idea of the study if VO's writing all these requirements into the plan.

    The bigger problem with it, of course, is that for the District to spend hundreds of millions (possibly more) on a domed 100,000-seat football stadium at RFK is a terrible, terrible waste of money, one that would make Nationals Park (another terrible waste of money, subsidizing the Nationals' billionaire developer owners) and the new D.C. United stadium (also an unjust public subsidy for another rich corporation whose owner can also pay for his own land) look like reasonably good ideas. Other problems: There's no good reason for the city to build a PGA tour-level golf course, and also, if the rest of the plan were actually successful, the hotels and restaurants would want to locate there anyway and so there's no reason to spend any public money putting them in.

  • seDCdude

    Absolutely LOVE IT!!

    As it stands now, the only people benefiting from RFK are soccer fans, futbol fans and drunk Hispanics.....lets keep it real!!

    Jobs, $$$, culture, hope, pride, decor, style, ambiance and good times to be had by all!

    This is america.....get ON or get left!

  • NE John

    The design for the Orange head blimp is awesome.

  • LOLLOL

    This will cost a huge amount of money. Probably more than completing the 37 mile street car system. The bike lane plan will cost less than the commas in this plan. This is an election year carrot, that will never, ever, be implemented. VO knows quite well that you don't get that specific with developments. But a normal development plan wouldn't be so saleable to voters, especially those unfamiliar with the development process, and with business in general. Notice how the usual pandering CMs have signed on. Ironically folks who look at a streetcar and say why not spend the money on schools, or at a bike lane and say why not spend it on job training, will call anyone against this racist and elitist.

  • SEis4ME

    Mike, Thanks!

    You write what read like good points but most at which I must shrug.

    From my somewhat limited point of view on how legislation is proposed, narrowed down and eventually pass, I find it hard to get too up in arms about a "too-specific" plan. I don't think there is anything particularly sinful about the proposals beyond them being TOO specific. Will everything about it come into fruition? Most don't.

    But finally reading about something that could possibly happen there...I just can't criticize it.

  • SEis4ME

    LOL@Way to play the victim in advance and accuse others of hurling racist recriminations.

    People can say whatever they want to say but it most certainly does NOT mean that the pot of money they "wish" to go elsewhere is actually transferred to some other pet project.

    If taken out of the same pot, I would surely like to see more investment in developing this parcel than installing more bike lanes or streetcars.

  • LOLLOL

    the best thing DC can do is to get out of the way of the redevelopment of Hill East, and use the area that is in the flood plain for less expensive recreation.

    Certainly not spend a fortune on golf, football, and waterparks, without even a hint at ongoing operating costs, financing, etc.

    And yes, street cars and bike lanes actually move people around the city. But I hear the serious argument that education is more important. But fancy golf and a stadium for Dan Snyder?

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  • Tight Lips

    @LookAtTheRealCost you can't stop your tax dollars from being spent, so you might as well stop with that fuss. Out of all the CMs, Orange is the only one to address this vacant land with a plan to generate money for the city and jobs on that side of town.

    It's easy to criticize someone for pushing the envelope and creating ideas to make the city more attractive that its normal ambience.

    Bash Orange, but also challenge your other CMs to come up with better plans than he is for the city.

  • LookAtTheRealCost

    @TightLips - This is not creating ideas. This is not a strategic plan.

    Seriously, a strategic plan DOES the analysis and then comes up with a course of action. This is a grab bag full of 'cool' and 'expensive' things and saying we need them.

    Also again, show me where a city is voted attractive because it has chain stores and PGA golf courses. First off, people don't go to NYC for chain stores, and their aren't any golf courses, in fact there aren't any major stadiums! Boston? Never heard anyone gush over the chain stores, or golf courses. LA? Doesn't even have a football team, no golf course, AND not known for chain stores (Rodeo drive is in Hollywood and isn't chain, rather it's boutique).

    Pick another city.. I can do this all day.

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  • O

    We NEED that new stadium!
    FedEx Field is the worst!

    We either build that 100,000 seat beauty or they'll be rename the 'Washington Redskins' to the 'Washington Warriors.' One of those will happen first, I prefer the former!

    Bring the team back to DC!!!

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