Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: SoccerInsider and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  Sports e-mail alerts  |  RSS

With season near, RFK in need of spring cleaning

D.C. United's home opener is still 3 1/2 weeks away -- an eternity! -- so by the time you've ironed your red-and-black scarf, stocked the cooler, cleaned the grill and gotten your tickets in order, everything should be almost back to normal at RFK Stadium.

At the moment, however, the old ballyard is not looking well. The brutal winter weather is to blame for much of it.

The access road off the Southeast Freeway that slithers along the mighty Anacostia and empties into Lot 8 has enough ruts, trenches and canyons to disable a convoy of Hummers. I drove it last week; it has since been closed. Before proceeding, I should have checked my auto insurance policy for axle damage, my dental coverage for splintered teeth and medical plan for concussions.

The big lot, which welcomes tailgating parties and the club's pregame festivities, looks as though Disney tried to re-create the Alps for a new theme park. When the city needed a place to dump truckloads of snow after the winter storms, it selected this spot, creating 15-to-20-foot peaks spread over an estimated 20 acres. Warming weather has helped shrink the glaciers, but only to, say, Appalachian proportions.

Inside the rusty bowl, the field is still covered with football marks and logos left from the EagleBank Bowl in December. At least the goal posts have been removed.

Now before you reach for your pitchforks and torches and storm the mayor's office, you should know that:

The access road is being repaired, and although it will never be as flawless as a NASCAR track (well, actually, Daytona showed blemishes this year), it will be "passable, so there aren't car-swallowing potholes," said Troy Scott, director of event operations for Washington Convention and Sports Authority, which manages the 110-acre stadium campus.

The reason for the Lot 8 mountain range? There was simply no other place to dump the tons of snow that trucks hauled from paralyzed neighborhoods and major arteries. How about sliding it into the Anacostia and Potomac -- frozen water mixed with flowing water makes sense, right? Not an option because, besides the snow, many other materials were scooped up in the operation and would further pollute the waterways.

The sports authority's plan is to clear as many spaces as possible by consolidating the piles. The priority is the area closest to the access road and toward the pedestrian tunnel under East Capitol Street, which, to the relief of the supporters' groups, includes the tailgating plots. The other parking areas are in fine condition, so if Lot 8 gets tight, drivers will be directed to lots 4, 6 and 7.

Who knows, maybe a spring heat wave will dissolve the snow piles before the opener? And of course the thousands of fans who take Metro to RFK are unaffected.

Complicating matters in Lot 8 is possible damage to the pavement. "That's our major concern right now," Scott said. "We are not sure how deep down the damage really is. ... It's a challenge, but nothing we are not prepared for."

As for the field, tarps protecting the turf during the winter were recently removed, exposing the football scars. Last winter, those lines changed the pigmentation of the grass and were faintly visible throughout the 2009 MLS season -- an embarrassing blemish in what is still considered a premier soccer setting in this country. This time, stadium officials used a paint that wouldn't cause long-term damage.

Crews have begun pressure-washing the field to loosen the paint. Once the grass begins to grow, regular mowing will clip away the marks. "The first game, you will probably be able to see some of it, but we are hoping by May it is a clean field," said Scott. "It's more of an aesthetic thing -- the playing surface is fine -- and it's just how it looks to the fans."

Why not just remove the paint after the bowl game? "You don't want to put any water or solution on it when the temperature is below freezing; you are creating more of a problem," Scott said. Unlike many stadiums, RFK does not have a heating system under the field.

United officials say they believe the sports authority has "done everything they could to this point to make arrangements ahead of our opener and accommodate the fans," club spokesman Doug Hicks said. "We have been working very closely with them since the storms. They were faced with extraordinary circumstances."

"We will definitely be ready for the start of the season," WCSA director of communications Teri Washington said. "Did the weather affect things? Yes, like many things in the city, but we have a plan in place and are doing everything to be ready."

So relax, RFK just needs a little spit shine. While they are still there, take a peek at the Lot 8 peaks on your way to the National ShamrockFest this Saturday in Lot 7. And fear not, for the home opener will be here before you know it.

Unless, the players go on strike, of course.

By Steve Goff  |  March 10, 2010; 9:37 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Early Wednesday kickaround
Next: MLS talks, Mia's husband, Man U-Milan

Comments

"How about sliding it into the Anacostia and Potomac -- frozen water mixed with flowing water makes sense, right? Not an option because, besides the snow, many other materials were scooped up in the operation and would further pollute the waterways."

So, leaving it to melt… on the surface of the earth… close to a body of water… means we are miraculously avoiding exposure to pollutants?

Well phew, I was worried there for a second!

Posted by: HWLongfellow | March 10, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I see that mess almost daily when I run through there. The access road is a disaster.

In Lot 8 I've seen a big front loader distributing the snow to speed the melt. But there is a sea of trash and debris left behind.

Posted by: DCB23 | March 10, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

...but it's our rusty bowl!

Posted by: nairbsod | March 10, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

So, after a spin jarring commute to RFK for a match, one should seek cerveza therapy for the injuries.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 10, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Parking for 55k...DCU doesn't get close to that. Doesn't sound like an issue.

Posted by: Reignking | March 10, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I remember driving by there last week and seeing that. What a mess!

Posted by: stwasm | March 10, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Any word on the discussions between the players and the league?

Posted by: VirginiaFan | March 10, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Since I will be at Shamrock Fest this weekend, I'll get a first-hand look at the mess. Hopefully this warm-ish weather stays with us for a while!

Posted by: VercengetorixII | March 10, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Those piles aren't snow anymore. They're granulated ice and mud for the most part mixed wit htree gunk, road gunk and a lot of torn up asphalt.

Good luck getting rid of it. I think they may need to truck it out to a dump.

Posted by: EricS2 | March 10, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

now about that falling concrete...

Posted by: tpsteele | March 10, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

For once, it seems, you can't blame the Stadium Authority for the current situtation. The blizzards this winter were (hopefully) a once in century phenomenon, and the RFK lots were a common sense location to dump the extra snow. The field is more worrying, but it appears they are making a good faith earnest effort to get it ready by the start of the season.

Of course, the real solution is getting our own SSS, but I digress ...

Posted by: jofij | March 10, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

How about sliding the whole decrepit stadium into the Anacostia....?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | March 10, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I would guess these temps in the 60s and a few days of rain that are predicted should be a big help in melting things down too.

Posted by: fedssocr | March 10, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

HWLongfellow: the idea is that a slow melt means the nasty stuff ends up in the Anacostia bit by bit, giving it a chance to flow out and be diluted, rather than in one massive toxic chunk. Plus, there's a ton of physical debris in those ice piles -- all the litter, tree branches, etc. that got scooped up. That won't be going in with the melt, and you don't want to dump it in.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | March 10, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, we need to get some of Fenty's frat brother friends into the parking lot clearing and paving business. Apparently that is the only sure way to get things done in this town.

Posted by: DCUSince96 | March 10, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

It's the Anacostia! It won't be getting worse.

Posted by: Reignking | March 10, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

The high salt content of the snow mountains should kill the Northern Snakehead population in the Potomac - or at least brine them nicely for grilling.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 10, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse


How about sliding the whole decrepit stadium into the Anacostia....?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | March 10, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Talk about pushing the pollution in the Anacostia over the edge... they'd probably need to enclose DC in a large glass dome to protect everyone outside of Washington.

Need another plan, like blowing the whole thing up and taking the remains to a dump. Not sure you'd even want to use the remains for scrap.

Posted by: gmAndAguinness. | March 10, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

It's criminal that a professional sports team has to play in that dump. Yes, it holds a lot of sentimental value but I don't know anyone that will cry over leaving RFK...unless of course that means leaving Washington DC which seems more and more likely every single week without progress on our stadium search.

Posted by: Atlanta4MLS | March 10, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Now, THAT'S what I call a stadium update!!

Posted by: BaltoFan | March 10, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The high salt content of the snow mountains should kill the Northern Snakehead population in the Potomac - or at least brine them nicely for grilling.
Posted by: I-270Exit1

So long as it doesn't hurt my beloved bass down in Mattawoman.

Posted by: KireDCU | March 10, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Nothing says "Baltimore United" like an update on RFK.

Posted by: rcdwriting | March 10, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of soccer stadiums.....

"Thank you Kevin for this D.C. United jersey and congratulations on your terrific season," Fenty said. "It is great to see over 20,000 fans here at RFK supporting D.C. United. It is my hope that your fans will soon be coming to your brand new soccer stadium at Poplar Point in Anacostia. World class fans, and a world class team like D.C. United, deserve a world class stadium. And I am going to make it a priority to help you build that stadium. Thank you -- congratulations and good luck to the Black-and-Red!"

-Adrian Fenty on Oct 29 2006 (right before a mayoral election)

link to full article: http://www.mlsnet.com/news/team_news.jsp?ymd=20061031&content_id=77524&vkey=news_dcu&fext=.jsp&team=t103

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 10, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Oh well, it's not all bad. In just a few short years that brand new SSS will be ready in southern Baltimore.

Posted by: blackandred777 | March 10, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"an embarrassing blemish in what is still considered a premier soccer setting in this country." You're kidding, right?

Posted by: futbolclif | March 11, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company