Washington, D.C.’s Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium is months away from becoming a memory, following National Park Service granting approval for full structural demolition to proceed.

Owned by the District of Columbia and located on a 190-acre federally owned campus along the Anacostia River, the 63-year-old 47,000-seat multi-purpose stadium has been idle since 2019, when a shrinking activities schedule that no longer offsets an estimated $3.5 million in annual maintenance and utilities costs.

While EventsDC, formerly known as the Washington Convention and Sports Authority, has been working to secure federal regulatory approval to tear down the aging stadium, Smoot Construction Co. of Washington, D.C., (SmootDC) began selective demolition work in late 2022, removing approximately 1,800 tons of metal, plastic and non-structural debris. Identification and abatement of asbestos-containing materials was monitored by ECS Mid-Atlantic, LLC. All seats, furniture, fixtures and equipment also have been removed, and utilities servicing the stadium have been disconnected, EventsDC says.

The District’s Dept. of Buildings issued a raze permit for the stadium in June 2023.

With NPS finding of no significant impact from the proposed structural demolition and environmental mitigation April 29, EventsDC now needs only an NPS permit to give SmootDC the go-ahead to begin gradual removal of major steel and concrete elements. Pending issuance of the NPS permit, EventsDC said that it is now “completing the final phases of testing the stadium concrete to identify demolished stadium concrete that can be re-used as backfill on the RFK site.”

Though EventsDC has not provided a timeline for the process the process to unfold, the current demolition plan calls for the cleared site to be graded and converted to grass. 

In addition, NPS and the District will sign an agreement that confirms the District’s continued use of the property will conform with the 1957 District of Columbia Stadium Act, which authorized establishment of a stadium for “holding athletic events and other activities and events.”

Opened in October 1961 as DC Stadium, the facility was the first major multisport facility built for both football and baseball. Renamed following the 1968 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, the stadium was home to the city’s professional football, baseball and soccer teams, and hosted a variety of concerts and other special events over the decades.

This past February, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would give the District a 99-year lease on the site, potentially clearing the way for construction of a new stadium for the city’s National Football League team, the Washington Commanders. The measure, which is awaiting Senate action, would also allow D.C. to pursue commercial and residential development, along with the responsibility of paying for any environmental remediation costs. EventsDC has already converted smaller portions of the campus to accommodate recreational sports and small events.