The supposed new Washington Redskins stadium is surrounded by water with limited walkways, high walls and a pricey look that will prevent many middle-class fans from entering.
The Tower of London looked more inviting. It had a moat, too.
What was supposed to be a throwback to RFK Stadium when the Redskins were last relevant a generation ago instead looks the next Mars colony space station.
Surely a peek of the design on Friday as part of a 60 Minutes profile on Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group was a trial balloon floated on Twitter. The photo was hard to grasp. Like walking around a new car to soak it all in before buying.
The eye went first to the surrounding moat. You’re thinking that can’t be right. A moat? This place will be known as “The Moat” no matter whose name is on the stadium.
Then you noticed only a handful of walkways. A few drunken fans could surely be pushed over the side to awaiting alligators. Cowboys fans beware and walk in the middle. Seriously, ditching the moat is the first design change.
The towering walls are remindful of “The Big Sombrero” that once housed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Note to architect – nobody liked that stadium. They blew it up for a new place with a pirate ship in the end zone.
And where is the retractable roof? Surely they can’t build a stadium to open in 2027 for more than $1 billion without a roof to allow more use than 10 football games and a couple concerts annually. Stadium financing will require it to host events regularly because no government will foot a $1 billion bill for an owner whose team is worth more than $2 billion. A dome is needed to attract conventions and major sporting events, including a Super Bowl. That’s the only way this stadium pays for itself.
Let’s not fool ourselves, this stadium is meant for the rich. It’s the only reason new stadiums are built – additional revenues. Otherwise, why leave the older ones? It’s certainly not about the game itself because the Redskins could play on 100 yards of grass anywhere.
No, like much of Washington itself lately, with a coming pricey waterfront and Center City projects, this stadium would be for wealthy folks. In 11 years, surely the lowest Redskins ticket price will be more than $200. The Redskins would follow the Nationals and Wizards where only lobbyists and rich people sit near the action.
The futuristic design and moat lend themselves to the old RFK site adjacent to the Anacostia River, not in the middle of Loudoun County. Ever try to fill a moat without a nearby water source? Me neither, but I’m assuming it’s pricey without a river.
And the smell? Constitution Ave. was built to resemble a Venetian canal, but the stench was so bad Abe Lincoln spent summers away from the White House to escape it. The canal was finally filled in 1873 to become the present road. Maybe technology’s better 143 years later, but maybe not. Ever driven along I-295 near Blue Plains on a hot day?
This stadium stinks, too. The fancy fluid form is the same con as art galleries telling the masses they’re not sophisticated enough to appreciate masterpieces when everyone knows it’s simply self-indulgent stupidity.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder needs to eat the design cost and start over, preferably with an American firm that understands sports and fans. Everyone gets a mulligan when designing something different. Maybe appreciating something bold and new takes time, but there aren’t enough centuries left on this planet to feel good about “The Moat.”
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.