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Goodbye to RFK?

Fans who evidently decided to say goodbye to RFK by not leaving.

I thought Tom Boswell's column about saying goodbye to RFK yesterday was really sweet, an homage to a stadium that has been so much a part of our D.C. sports-obsessed lives, a stadium whose imperfections and blackened fixtures and slasher-flick infield surface and drip-drop piles of toxic goo you can grow to love once you realize it's end is near. But I can't wax eloquent like Boz can wax eloquent:

But something will be lost. On those nights when RFK, in a half-light that mutes the flaws of age, towered over me and surprised me with its power, we had our natural farewell. Good luck, in these last four days, as you seek your own.

Sniff. So yes, by all means, go say good-bye, America, to a stadium that is about to bid us adieu, to a modernist dream that this autumn will vanish into mist, to that pile of flowing alabaster memories, to that concrete vision of capital excellence and sporting harmony that after this weekend will never again be used for a major-league.....

Hold up, oh yeah, that's right, there's actually another team that uses RFK Stadium, a team that occasionally, you know, wins something, a team that drew the largest single-game crowd to RFK during the Nats era and the largest actual crowd in the stadium's history and that will host a league championship just this very year, a league championship that theoretically could be won by an actual Washington-based team.

Amazing!!!!! You mean, I don't have to actually say good-bye this weekend??? To craft my own moonlit sonatic farewell under the weeping magnolia sky??? Jeez, someone get me re-write.

Regardless, others have followed Boz's lead in deciding to shed a tear for old RFK, after the jump.

My Brains Says Rage: "So after another three and a half hours and another crushing loss, I stood at one of the dozens of concrete portals in the upper deck and looked out over the field for one final moment. I let the ghosts wash over me, the faint sounds of a marching band playing "Hail to the Redskins", the memory of a cold winter afternoon and a hot summer night, the crack of a bat and the easy conversations that can only be had at a baseball game. And I said goodbye again as a little part of me died."

The AP: "Redskins fans used to make those movable stands rock when John Riggins and Dexter Manley were leading Washington to the Super Bowl. It didn't take long for Nationals fans to figure out what a little jumping would do to that section behind the home dugout, and they had plenty of opportunity to hop when the home team was winning more than it lost in the magical first half of its inaugural season."

Mister (Extra) Irrelevant (who has never been to a United game): "I don't want to get all emo on you, but it's hard for a DC sports fan not to when reading Tom Boswell's farewell-to-RFK column."

The Nationals Enquirer: "According to sources with no knowledge of the situation, the Washington Nationals will celebrate the end of baseball at RFK Stadium by giving away t-shirts and serving free beer to every man, woman, and child entering Sunday's 2007 home finale against the Phillies."

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 21, 2007; 11:14 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , Nats  
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"And I said goodbye again as a little part of me died."

Good Lord - a little melodramatic are we? I loved Boswells column but this line is way too over the top for me.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | September 21, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

OK, so I'm not the only one who thinks all this is crazy. I hate the Nats' essentially having a RIP RFK patch. It's a temporary home just a bit better than FEMA can provide, they've only been in RFK for 3 years, and all they've done is complain about the place.

Boswells column did have a throwaway line that RFK will still be used.

I'm taking the family to the game on Sunday (rooting for the Phils) and so the kids can see the RFK baseball configuration for the first and last time. They've already seen the soccer setup.

Posted by: Kim | September 21, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Here's my vote for Steinz and Goff as co-Soccer Insiders.

And yeah, has Boswell, not Bozilla, ever been at a DC United game? Or is he too stuck up for that?

Posted by: DC Centurion's Shield | September 21, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Weren't guys like Boswell writing constant dribble about how bad it was to see a game at RFK?

I love the Post, but most of the non-beat sports writers seem to be hypocrites. Steinz! is the exception though.

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | September 21, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm fairly certain Boz has been to a few over the years. Hopefully the turf will look alot better now for the DCU games. For alot of people this weekend will be their last time at RFK, so it is farewell for them.

Posted by: EricS | September 21, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The problem is that a lot of folks read or hear the media spouting off about how this is it for RFK, and they have fond memories of the 'Skins playing there. So they'll trot over for one last look at the stained concrete.

But they'll be free to spend less than $20 for the same privilege over the next couple of MLS seasons. All this RFK is closing nostalgia is misleading.

Posted by: Kim | September 21, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Tell Fenty to let DC United build a new home too!
We will actually pay for ours.

Posted by: jgildea | September 21, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I have good memories of RFK and will miss the place because I will never have a reason to go there again. I don't care for soccer. As for Kim rooting for the Phillies, (big surpise) she sounds like a Philly fan. That's the worst thing about living in the DC area. You have to put up with people who live in this area but choose to root for the team who comes from the city they no longer live in.

Posted by: Paula | September 21, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Boswell is a pompous ass. OF COURSE, there is another team there, really the best franchise in the area. And I'm not even a soccer fan.

Posted by: Joe | September 21, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Damn you're fine, Steinz! In all seriousness you stand alone at the pinnacle of my top 4 "sports" media personalities list:
1. Steinz
2. Jarkko
3. Everybody Else
4. Kornheiser

Posted by: Rob Iola | September 21, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

As a supporter of DC United since the beginning, I'm actually insulted by all of this ridiculous farewell to RFK sentiment.

I wish I had been there to sing "Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye" during the 9th innning. Good riddance, ingrates.

Posted by: DCU_Rick | September 21, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Well I am sure that there are tickets available if you want to mobilize the DCU Troops we can invade for the last game.

Posted by: jgildea | September 21, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Boswell's column was fine, nice even... but I don't really get the sentiment for Nats fans at RFK. Sure it helped ease the team into DC from Montreal, but it's such a dump for baseball needs. As a Nats fan, I'm just looking forward to next season and the new stadium (albeit at higher prices).

As a United fan, I'm just psyched for the stadium to go back to it's proper pitch and shape. And the thought of United playing in the Cup Final in November gives me chills. The place would be going bonkers. I don't want to jinx it.

Posted by: Kev | September 21, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey Paula,

Got news for you, as a transient town, you're going to need to live with that. I'm a huge United fan, and intensely loyal to the three teams I grew up with (Flyers, Phillies, Eagles) in that order. Just because I move away due to silly things like college and well paying jobs isn't reason to forget about what I grew up with.

And I'm right there for the Caps and Nats just not when their playing Philadelphia based teams.

......and don't generalize with your pronouns. I've got the wrong parts to be a 'she' ;)

Posted by: Kim | September 21, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Soccer doesn't count.

There, I said it. Someone had to.

Yes, I have been to a D.C. United game. I found the crowd to be substantially more interesting than the sporting activity.

I'm glad so many people enjoy soccer. Have fun! But for me, I'll be saying goodbye to RFK on Sunday.

Posted by: Lindemann | September 21, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Just to add some fuel to the fire; Baseball is not a sport.

Posted by: AlecW81 | September 21, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"......and don't generalize with your pronouns. I've got the wrong parts to be a 'she' ;)"

Kim Jon-Il? I knew you were an Eagles fan!


Posted by: Kev | September 21, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"Got news for you, as a transient town, you're going to need to live with that."

Kim, great that you are a United fan. Season ticket holder myself. And I dont begrudge you for sticking with your teams. I moved to Oakland, CA for a year and stuck by mine (it was a temporary move anyway) Philly has great schools and maybe not as many jobs, so I see the attraction to moving here.

But dont act surprised and defensive when those of us who are from here stick up for ourselves and our teams. We have a chip on our shoulder for a reason. We are told that "no one is from here" and that "DC is a transient town" in ways that invalidates the lives that our families have built here. Heck, idiots have even suggested that DC shouldnt get a vote in Congress because everyone who lives here can just "vote in their home district."

I live with "it" all day, every day as a local. I dont need anyone, especially someone from Philly of all places, to remind me of that.

Posted by: the cheat | September 21, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

jgildea - An interesting idea for sure, but I have this thing about not spending my own money to go to a Nats game.

I realize United don't get any money from the stadium revenue either, but for me it's a matter of principle.

Posted by: DCU_Rick | September 21, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse


The 'no one is from here' argument really only shows up in sports. Since DC has only really been a big town for a little more than a generation, the only generational fanbase is for the 'Skins, and maybe a few of the colleges/universities. Capitals Hockey is something that folks have warmed up to, shied away from, warmed up to, etc, and the same can be said about the Bullets/Wizards.

Those bonds that a fan feels for his/her team run deep. So a rabid hockey fan from Detroit isn't going to give up on the Red Wings, they can grow to like the Caps, but they'll always be #2. The Nats run into the same issue.

Sure many of the local populace that casually followed the Orioles jumped on, but some have stronger bonds. I've always liked the Expos, and was excited that they'd be here, but knew that the Phillies would always be #1 (in crushing my expectations every year in new exciting and hurtful ways).

A lot of folks who felt a real emotional attachment to RFK said goodbye a decade ago when the 'Skins moved. The next wave will come if United ever moves. This was just a holding pen for the Nats.

Posted by: Kim | September 21, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

As usual, Dan, you're my hero.

Posted by: MM | September 21, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I think criticisms of Boswell for writing this are misplaced. As much as I think of RFK as "my" stadium, I also think of it entirely as a soccer venue. I have not gone to a Nats game, and never went to a football game there either. Boswell, meanwhile, has seen RFK as "his" for the duration of its existence. He doesn't really follow soccer much, so he has every right to feel nostalgic.

That said, I'd like to thank Dan for taking note that RFK's most successful tenant will still be rocking the place.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | September 21, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

RFK Stadium will go down in history as the only facility to have seen 4 different farewell games. (last Senators home game, last Redskins home game, last Nats home game, last DCU home game in a year to be determined)

Posted by: Jon | September 21, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

R.F.K. Stadium (née D.C. Stadium) was built for baseball and football. It has lost the only tenants that anyone thought that it would ever have.

The fact that it is used successfully for D.C. United is a happy bonus.

Criticism of Boswell on his column is misguided. He grew up in its shadow, was there from the beginning. He is, at his core, a baseball fan, and like the rest of us baseball fans, he should not be derided for not being passionate about soccer. Also, as Boswell so rightly pointed out, it was the very existence of R.F.K. that allowed MLB to award the Expos franchise to D.C. to begin with, it was ready and waiting to be used again, as opposed to having to wait for a stadium to be built. A PROMISE of a new stadium was enough for MLB.

My fond R.F.K. memories involve Senators, Nationals and Redskins. I'm middle-aged, and can't help but feel a twinge of loss at the venue which hosted so many happy memories for me. As someone else has already said, with the Nationals gone, I'll probably never have a reason to go to R.F.K. ever again. Why shouldn't that sadden me a little?

Oh, and don't think that the city won't be thinking of trying to find new uses for the site where R.F.K. is right now, especially if D.C. United is really leaving for a new stadium themselves. The land is far too valuable (this includes the parking spaces, remember). Rumors abound of Dan Snyder wanting to abandon FedEx and move the Redskins back into the city, and build a big, shiny new stadium with his own $$.

Posted by: Nationals Power | September 22, 2007 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Free beer for attending the final Nats game at RFK? Well that might actually make me want to go see them! ;-)

Posted by: roadkit | September 22, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

After the game they were showing video tributes to RFK, which we couldn't see, but it made it seem like RFK was going to be empty from now on. It's not. See they have this other tenant called DC United. Yeah, they've won a few championships, they have the best supporter's clubs around, and they were there long before the Nats ever were. Don't get me wrong, I like the Nats, but it's not like it's going to be a ghost town with them gone.

It was neat to be there for the last baseball game in the stadium, but we sure will be glad to get our long field and non-patchwork turf back.

And hey, what was up with the no-show of Teddy for the President's race? The crowd was PISSED! We need a "Where was Teddy" piece.

Posted by: Maggie | September 23, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Between DC United and the Dips, RFK hosted more seasons of soccer than it did of baseball.

Posted by: Publius | September 24, 2007 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Marc Fisher, George Solomon, Boswell and William Gildea all pronounced RFK dead and buried in the paper while paying (at best) lip service to DC United. Thanks for the support Washington Post. You consistantly have errors regarding soccer in the paper, whether it's National Team box scores not showing up or mistakes on the MLS portion of The Scoreboard. Another dagger in the back of the successful franchise in the city really doesn't hurt. We're used to your disrespect. Maybe you should take a look a the online numbers. Dan Steinberg and Steve Goff are doing an excellent job with soccer at the paper. Why can't it translate into print?



Posted by: JayRockers! | September 24, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Free beer is the only thing that would get me to see an Ex-Expos snoozefest.

Posted by: Eric | September 24, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

hey Nationals Power: and why, pray tell, was RFK still there waiting for the Nats to use and abuse the old lady on the way to bigger and better things? oh right, because United was there. Every baseball fan in this city should buy a United jersey, without them, there would be no RFK, under the terms of DC's lease from then National Park Service, if the stadium isn't used for sports for two years, it reverts to the Feds, who will then probably nuke it.

and what does the old lady and her faithful beau get? everyone paying attention to the flashy, substance-free newcomer, who's just shacking up until his new girl comes to town. and we're supposed to be sorry?

Posted by: northzax | October 3, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Anyone with a memory longer than 10 years understands that the Washington Nationals would simply not exist if DC United hadn't been the sole tenant of the building since 1997.

That building would have been empty and servicable had United not been there for a decade. MLB would have relocated the Expos elsewhere.

Simply put, like the sport of soccer or not, Nats fans owe DC United a debt of gratitude for the Nationals very existance.

Posted by: stonesean | October 3, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Nationals Power, good riddance to middle aged guys like you from our soccer stadium, and hope you stay confined in your boring baseball park away from us! Soccer is the sport for the youth, and with baseball's future only meshed with nostalgic middle aged dinosaurs baseball stands no chance against soccer in the future.

Posted by: Soccer power | October 3, 2007 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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