RFK Stadium Set for Demolition

National Park Service Approves Razing of 63-year-old Washington D.C. Landmark

RFK Stadium Set for Demolition

National Park Service Approves Razing of 63-year-old Washington D.C. Landmark

A Washington D.C. landmark is set to be demolished.

Engineering News-Record recently reported that the National Park Service has granted approval for the full structural demolition of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, the long-time home of the District of Columbia’s professional football, baseball, and soccer teams.

Hard hats sit on top of bleachers inside a dilapidated stadium.
(Photo courtesy of Events DC via Engineering News-Record) Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C. will soon be demolished after the National Park Service gave the project their blessing.

The 63-year-old, 47,000-seat multi-purpose stadium has been undergoing selective demolition work since late 2022, when approximately 1,800 tons of metal, plastic and non-structural debris were removed along with seats, furniture, fixtures, and equipment.

The District of Columbia owns the stadium, which sits on a 190-acre federally owned campus along the Anacostia River. Events DC, formerly known as the Washington Convention and Sports Authority, has contracted with Smoot Construction Co. Of Washington, D.C. (SmootDC) to demo the facility, with the former telling ENR 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.”

Current plans call for the cleared site to be graded and converted to grass, although Events DC has so far not provided a timeline for the project.

RFK Stadium opened as DC Stadium in 1961. It cost $24 million to construct, and the first official event it hosted was an NFL game between the home Washington Commanders and rival New York Giants. The Giants won 24-21 before a crowd of 36,767 that included President John F. Kennedy.

President Kennedy returned in 1962 to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in the first Major League Baseball game held at the stadium, when 44,383 fans watched the Washington Senators beat the Detroit Tigers 4-1. The 60s also saw the Washington Diplomats of the North American Soccer League become the first of eight professional soccer clubs to call the stadium home throughout its history.

The stadium was renamed in 1969 to honor U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated the previous June. It would go on to host concerts, boxing matches, World Cup matches, Olympic events, and more.

In 1996, RFK Stadium said hello to Major League Soccer’s D.C. United and goodbye to the Commanders, who ended their 36-season residency in the stadium with a 37-10 victory over the arch-rival Dallas Cowboys. The Senators had departed for Texas 25 years earlier to become the Rangers, but Major League Baseball returned to RFK in 2005 when President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ home opener.

RFK Stadium continued to host events into the late-2010s. D.C. United played their last official game there in 2017 – a year after Events DC announced its plans to redevelop the campus surrounding the stadium.

“The transformational vision for the iconic RFK Campus delivers holistic concepts for the site that leverage the District’s long-underutilized waterfront, provide neighborhood serving amenities and connect the current site with increased and sustainable green space, flexible recreational fields, [and] natural access to pedestrian-friendly paths,” Events DC wrote on its website.

ENR reported that the National Park Service and D.C. will sign an agreement confirming 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.” The Commanders had been considering constructing their new stadium on the site of their old one. However, that plan remains up in the air.

An excavator sifts through rubble.
Whether demolishing an existing structure, or breaking ground on a new build, subsurface damage is a very real and dangerous threat to the safety and success of your projects.

Precision Concrete Scanning Keeps Demolition Jobs Safe

Whether demolishing an existing structure or breaking ground on a new build, subsurface damage is a very real and dangerous threat to the safety and success of your projects.

And while the goal may be to bring everything to the ground, striking rebar, post-tension cable, or buried utilities while doing so could cause an immediate structural collapse that puts the entire job site – and even the surrounding community – in danger.

It’s also important to know what’s in the concrete prior to demolition so you know what materials can be reclaimed and reused for future projects.

Precision concrete scanning is a necessary step before any destructive activities take place on a job site. The most effective tools for this work are ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic (EM) locating.

GPR is a non-destructive detection and imaging technology utilized in construction to see underground or within a concrete slab. A GPR scanner emits radio waves into the surface that’s being investigated, then detects the interactions between those waves and subsurface objects such as rebar, post-tension cable, and conduit. These interactions are displayed as a series of hyperbolas on a GPR readout, with the hyperbolas varying in size and shape depending on what type of material was detected.

A professional concrete scanning or utility locating technician can interpret this data to tell you what was located and provide the approximate depth of that object.

EM locators detect the electromagnetic signals radiating from metallic pipes and cables, rather than the pipes and cables themselves. These signals can be created by the locator’s transmitter applying current to the pipe, or from current flow in a live electrical cable. They can also result from a conductive pipe acting as an antenna and re-radiating signals from stray electrical fields (detected by the EM locator functioning in Power Mode) and communications transmissions (Radio Mode).

Signals are created by the current flowing from the transmitter, which travels along the conductor (line/cable/pipe) and back to the transmitter. The current typically uses a ground to complete the current. A ground stake is used to complete the circuit through the ground.

GPRS’ SIM-certified Project Managers use GPR and EM locating in concert to ensure the most accurate concrete imaging and utility locates. We’ve achieved and maintain an industry-leading 99.8%+ rate of accuracy on these types of projects, and remain committed to reaching our goal of 100% subsurface damage prevention because we want you and your team to leave the job site in the same condition that you arrived to it.

To ensure the field-verified data collected by our Project Managers is at your fingertips 24/7, GPRS created SiteMap® (patent pending), our cloud-based infrastructure mapping software solution that provides accurate existing condition documentation to protect your assets and people.

All GPRS clients receive a complimentary SiteMap® Personal subscription with every utility locate we complete for them, allowing you to use this data to plan, design, manage, dig, and build better.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize? Click below to schedule a service or request a quote today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the primary health risks associated with demolition work?

The primary health risks in demolition work include exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos, lead, and silica dust. Inhaling these substances can lead to serious respiratory issues, including lung cancer, silicosis, and other chronic respiratory diseases. Additionally, there is a risk of injury from falling debris, handling heavy equipment, and noise-induced hearing loss from the use of loud machinery.

How can structural instability during demolition pose a danger to workers?

Structural instability is a major concern during demolition as it can lead to unexpected collapses, endangering workers on-site. Without proper planning and support, parts of a building may give way suddenly, causing severe injuries or fatalities. Ensuring a thorough structural assessment and following a carefully designed demolition plan can mitigate these risks.

What safety measures should be implemented to protect workers during demolition activities?

Several safety measures are crucial in protecting workers during demolition. These include conducting a thorough risk assessment, providing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets, gloves, and respiratory protection, and ensuring all workers are trained in safety protocols. Additionally, securing the work area to prevent unauthorized access, using controlled demolition techniques, and having emergency response plans in place are essential for minimizing risks. Regular monitoring and maintenance of equipment, as well as clear communication among the demolition team, further enhance safety on-site.