WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — D.C. officials announced Tuesday that they have chosen two firms to conduct a “sports study” that will examine professional sports financing and economic impacts that could also lead to luring the Washington Commanders back to the District.
The study will be conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. and the Robert Bobb Group. Both companies have done extensive advisory work with the District on a variety of projects, including the Wharf and Nationals Park, city officials said.
The study will cost the city $394,000 with preliminary results made public as early as six weeks from the study starting, officials said.
“D.C. is a proud sports town that values our professional teams and the critical important role that sports play in our community,” said Nina Albert, the acting deputy mayor for planning and development. Her office announced the firms chosen for the study. “The sports study will continue our work to support D.C.’s teams and further understand our city’s sports landscape.”
While the study will examine the current stadium needs at Capital One Arena, Nationals Park and Audi Field, anticipated results of the study are centered around whether the old RFK stadium can be torn down and made ready for a new Commanders stadium.
Mayor Muriel Bowser had made it known for several months that she wanted the football team that abandoned D.C. for Prince George’s County in the mid-1990s to return to the District.
But there are skeptics, including City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who don’t think taxpayers should be on the hook for a new publicly financed stadium when other stadiums and teams have more pressing needs.
“There’s a difference between a new football stadium, which doesn’t exist, and the existing teams which we need to work with and be good partners with,” Mendelson said.
There are needs like a new scoreboard, he said, at National Park which he has estimated to cost upwards of $20 million. Officials for Events DC, which maintains the sports facilities for the city, said that may not be the final cost as negotiations are underway for other improvements.
Mendelson said the two firms selected by the city “are well respected” given their work on other city projects.
But he questioned the urgency and why it took so long for the mayor’s team to get the firms selected given the pressing issues with the other sports stadiums.
“I would have thought there was more urgency around this,” Mendelson said. “The city needs to deal now today with issues that the Washington Nationals have with the stadium that we own, where there’s a lot of deferred maintenance. The city has to deal with Monumental Sports (owners of Capital One arena) and that fact that the arena downtown is in many ways outdated.”