Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
RFK Stadium
Former namesDistrict of Columbia (D.C.) Stadium (1961–1968)
Location2400 East Capitol St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003
Coordinates<span class="geo-dms" title="Maps, aerial photos, and other data for Expression error: Unexpected < operator.°Expression error: Unexpected < operator.Expression error: Unexpected < operator.Expression error: Unexpected >= operator. Expression error: Unexpected < operator.°Expression error: Unexpected < operator.Expression error: Unexpected < operator.Expression error: Unexpected >= operator.">Expression error: Unexpected < operator.°Expression error: Unexpected < operator.Expression error: Unexpected < operator.Expression error: Unexpected >= operator. Expression error: Unexpected < operator.°Expression error: Unexpected < operator.Expression error: Unexpected < operator.Expression error: Unexpected >= operator. / ,
Broke groundJuly 8, 1960[1]
OpenedOctober 1, 1961
OwnerWashington Convention and Sports Authority
OperatorWashington Convention and Sports Authority
SurfaceGrass (Prescription Athletic Turf)
Construction cost$24 million
($176 million in 2020 dollars[2])
ArchitectGeorge L. Dahl
Osborn Engineering
Ewin Engineering Associates
General ContractorMcCloskey and Co.
43,500 (1961)
45,016 (1971)
45,596 (2005)
56,692 (1961)
46,000 (2005)
19,467 (2012)
Field dimensionsLeft Field – 335 ft (102 m)
Left-Center – 380 ft (116 m)
Center Field – 410 ft (125 m)
Right-Center – 380 ft (116 m)
Right Field – 335 ft (102 m)
Backstop – 54 ft (16 m)
Washington Redskins (NFL) (1961–1996)
George Washington Colonials (NCAA) (1961–1966)
Washington Senators (II) (AL) (1962–1971)
Washington Whips (USA / NASL) (1967–1968)
Washington Darts (NASL) (1971)
Washington Diplomats (NASL / USL1) (1974–1981, 1991)
Team America (NASL) 1983)
Washington Federals (USFL) (1983–1984)
FIFA World Cup (1994)
D.C. United (MLS) (1996–present)
Washington Freedom (WUSA) (2001–2003)
Washington Nationals (NL) (2005–2007)
Military Bowl (NCAA) (2008–present)
Washington Freedom (WPS) (2009–2011)

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (originally "District of Columbia Stadium" (D.C. Stadium), commonly "RFK Stadium" or "RFK") is a multi-purpose stadium, in Washington, D.C., United States, and the current home of MLS's D.C. United.

The stadium was opened in October 1961, as the District of Columbia Stadium. It is owned and operated by the Washington Convention and Sports Authority (WCSA).

The stadium was home for a number of major professional sports teams, including the NFL's Washington Redskins (1961 through 1996; moved to FedExField in suburban Maryland), the American League's Washington Senators (1962 through 1971; moved to Arlington, Texas and renamed Texas Rangers), and the National League's Washington Nationals (2005 through 2007; moved to Nationals Park). It has hosted international soccer matches in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, 1996 Summer Olympics and 2003 Women's World Cup.

The stadium was renamed in January 1969, for U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated in Los Angeles the previous June. As Attorney General, Kennedy's Justice Department played a role in the racial integration of the Washington Redskins: along with Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Kennedy threatened to revoke the team's lease at the federally-owned stadium until it promised to sign African American players.

RFK was the first major stadium designed specifically as a multisport facility for both football and baseball.

During the Nationals' tenure at the stadium, it was the fourth-oldest active stadium in Major League Baseball behind Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium.


RFK Stadium was home for 36 seasons to the Redskins, whose return to prominence as a football power began the same year (1960) that the original baseball Senators played their final season, relocating in 1961 to Minnesota as the Twins. The Redskins' first game in D.C. Stadium was a 24–21 loss to the New York Giants on October 1, 1961. The team's first win in the stadium was over its future archrival, the Dallas Cowboys, on December 17, 1961. This was the only win in a 1–12–1 season, and it came on the final weekend of the regular season. The Redskins' last win at RFK was a 37–10 victory over the Cowboys on December 22, 1996.

The stadium hosted its first baseball All-Star Game in its first season of 1962, which was attended by Robert Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy (in whose administration Robert Kennedy served as Attorney General), and the 1969 All-Star Game, which was played in the daytime, after a rainout the night before. It turned out to be the final MLB All-Star Game played during the daytime hours.

Another notable baseball moment occurred in a Cracker Jack Old Timers game in 1982, when 75 year-old Hall of Famer Luke Appling hit a home run. Although he had a .310 lifetime batting average, Appling only hit 45 home runs in 20 seasons. However, because the stadium had not been fully reconfigured, it was just Script error to the left-field foul pole, far shorter than normal.

In its tenure as the Senators' home field, RFK Stadium was known as a hitters' park. Slugger Frank Howard, a six-foot-seven-inch tall, 255-pound left fielder, hit a number of tape-measure home runs in his career, a few of which landed in the center field area of the upper deck. The seats Howard hit with his home runs are painted white, rather than the gold of the rest of the upper deck. Howard also hit the last home run in the park's original tenure, on September 30, 1971. With one out remaining in the game, a fan riot turned a 7–5 Senators lead over the New York Yankees into a 9–0 forfeit loss. However, in its tenure as the Nationals' home field, RFK has been known as a pitchers' park. While Howard hit at least 44 home runs for three straight seasons (1968–70), the 2005 Nationals had only one hitter with more than 15 home runs, José Guillén with 24.

From 1993 to 1999 and from 2001 to 2004, former rock radio station WHFS held its annual HFStival rock concert at RFK Stadium.


The stadium's design was nearly circular, attempting to facilitate both football and baseball. It was the first to use the so-called "cookie-cutter" concept, an approach also used by Philadelphia, New York, Houston, Atlanta, St. Louis, San Diego, Cincinnati, Oakland and Pittsburgh. Except for the stadiums in Houston, San Diego, and Oakland (the former is still standing but is no longer actively used, while the latter two are still active), RFK Stadium ultimately outlasted all of the aforementioned stadiums.

However, as would become the case with every other stadium where this was tried, the design was not ideal for either sport due to the different shapes and sizes of the playing fields. As the playing field dimensions for football and baseball vary greatly, seating had to accommodate the larger playing surface. In the case of RFK Stadium, this resulted in the first ten rows of the football configuration being nearly at field level, making it difficult to see over the players.

As a baseball park, RFK was a particular target of scorn from baseball purists, largely because it had no lower-deck seats in the outfield. The only outfield seats are in the upper deck, above a high wall. It was said that RFK was "the first ballpark built that had only an upper deck." According to Sporting News publications in the 1960s, over 27,000 of RFK's 45,000 baseball seats were in the upper tier or mezzanine levels. The lower-to-upper proportion improved for the Redskins, with end-zone seats filling in some of the gaps.

A complex conversion was necessary, at a cost of $40,000 per switch, to convert the stadium from a football/soccer configuration to baseball and back again; in its final form, this included rolling the 3rd-base lower-level seats into the outfield along a buried rail, dropping the hydraulic pitcher's mound Script error into the ground, and laying sod over the infield dirt. Later facilities were designed so the seating configuration could be changed much more quickly and at a lower cost. The conversion was only required several times per year during the Senators' joint tenancy with the Redskins, but became much more frequent while the Nationals and D.C. United shared the stadium during the mostly-concurrent MLB and MLS seasons; in 2005, the conversion was made more than 20 times. Originally the seats located behind the stadium's third-base dugout would be removed for baseball games and put back in place when the stadium was converted to the football (and later soccer) configuration. When these sections were in place, RFK seated approximately 56,000 fans. Following the Washington Nationals' move to RFK in 2005, this particular segment of the stands was permanently removed to facilitate the switch between the baseball and soccer configurations. These seats were not restored following the Nationals' move to Nationals Park, leaving the stadium's seating capacity at approximately 46,000. D.C. United do not normally make the tickets for the majority of the upper-level seating available for purchase, and the stadium's reduced capacity thus is not normally problematic for the club.

During the years when the stadium was used only for Redskins games, the rotating seats remained in the football configuration. If a baseball game was scheduled, the left-field wall was only Script error from home plate, and for some exhibition baseball games, a large screen was erected.

Some of RFK's quirks endear the venue to fans and players. The large rolling bleacher section is less stable than other seating, allowing fans to jump in rhythm to cause the whole area to bounce. Also, because of the stadium's design and the proximity of the fans to the football field, the stadium was extremely loud when the usual sell-out Redskins crowds became vocal. Legend has it that former Redskins coach George Allen would order a large rolling door opened in the side of the stadium when visiting teams were attempting field goals at critical moments in games so that a swirling wind from off the Potomac and Anacostia rivers would interfere with the flight of the kicked ball.

File:RFK Stadium aerial photo, looking towards Capitol, 1988.jpg

Since the stadium is on a direct sight line with the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol, light towers were not allowed; instead, arc lights were placed on its curved, dipping roof.

Seating capacityEdit


  • 43,500 (1962–1970)[1]
  • 45,016 (1971–2004)[1]
  • 45,596 (2005–present)[1]


  • 49,219 (1961–1964)[2]
  • 50,000 (1965–1969)[3]
  • 50,415 (1970)[4]
  • 53,041 (1971)[5]
  • 53,039 (1972)[6]
  • 54,381 (1973)[7]
  • 54,395 (1974)[8]
  • 55,004 (1975–1976)[9]
  • 55,031 (1977–1979)[10]
  • 55,045 (1980–1983)[11]
  • 55,431 (1984)[12]
  • 55,750 (1985–1991)[13]
  • 56,454 (1992–2004)[14]


File:RFK Stadium satellite view.png

The dimensions of the baseball field were Script error down the foul lines, Script error to the power alleys and Script error to center field during the Senators' time. The official distances when the Nationals arrived were identical, except for two additional feet to center field. After complaints from Nationals hitters it was discovered in July 2005 that the fence had actually been put in place incorrectly, and it was Script error to the power alleys in left; Script error to the right-field power alley; and Script error to center field. The section of wall containing the Script error sign was moved closer to the foul lines to more accurately represent the distance shown on the signs but no changes were made to the actual dimensions.

Stadium nameEdit

The stadium was opened in October 1961 as the District of Columbia Stadium (D.C. Stadium for short). The stadium was renamed in January 1969, for U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated in Los Angeles the previous June. As attorney general, Kennedy's Justice Department played a role in the racial integration of the Redskins. Along with Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Kennedy threatened to revoke the team's lease at the federally owned stadium until it promised to sign African American players.

On April 14, 2005, just before the Nationals' home opener, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission announced an agreement with the Department of Defense under which the military would pay the city about $6 million for naming rights and the right to place recruiting kiosks and signage in the stadium. In return, the stadium would be dubbed Armed Forces Field at RFK Stadium. This plan was dropped within days, however, after several prominent members of Congress questioned the use of public funds for a stadium sponsorship. Similar proposals to sell the naming rights to the National Guard, ProFunds (a Bethesda, Maryland investment company) and Sony were rumored that season, but no agreement was ever finalized.

Notable games and eventsEdit

American footballEdit

  • After trailing the Cowboys 24–6 halfway through the third quarter on November 28, 1965, quarterback Sonny Jurgensen leads the Redskins to 21 fourth-quarter points and a 34–31 comeback victory.
  • The Redskins beat the New York Giants 72–41 on November 27, 1966. The 113 combined points are the most ever scored in an NFL game.
  • On December 31, 1972, the Redskins defeat the Cowboys 26–3 in the NFC Championship game to earn a trip to Super Bowl VII.
  • In a Monday Night Football game on October 8, 1973, Redskins safety Ken Houston stops Cowboys' receiver Walt Garrison at the goal line as time expired to secure a win.
  • December 17, 1977 – the Redskins defeat the Los Angeles Rams 17–14 in what would be head coach George Allen's final game with the team.
  • October 25, 1981 – the Redskins narrowly beat the New England Patriots 24–22 to earn head coach Joe Gibbs his first win at RFK Stadium.
  • January 22, 1983 – the stadium physically shakes as a capacity crowd of 54,000 chant "We Want Dallas" taunting the hated Cowboys in the NFC Championship game. The Redskins go on to defeat the Cowboys 31–17 to earn a trip to Super Bowl XVII where they beat the Miami Dolphins 27–17 to claim the franchise's first Super Bowl win.
  • September 5, 1983 – Redskins' rookie cornerback Darrell Green chases down Cowboys' running back Tony Dorsett from behind to prevent him from scoring. However, the Redskins ended up losing late in the fourth quarter.
  • November 18, 1985 – Giants' linebacker Lawrence Taylor sacks Redskins' quarterback Joe Theismann severely breaking his leg and ending his NFL career. Backup quarterback Jay Schroeder comes in and leads the Redskins to a 23–21 victory on Monday Night Football.
  • January 17, 1988 – Cornerback Darrell Green knocks down a Wade Wilson pass at the goal line to clinch a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game. The Redskins go on to defeat the Denver Broncos 42–10 in Super Bowl XXII.
  • January 4, 1992 – In a pouring rain, the Redskins beat the Atlanta Falcons 24–7 in the Divisional round of the playoffs. After a touchdown scored by Redskins fullback Gerald Riggs with 6:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, the fans shower the field with the free yellow seat cushions given to them when they entered the stadium.
  • January 12, 1992 – the Redskins beat the Detroit Lions 41–10 in the NFC Championship game earning a trip to Super Bowl XXVI where they beat the Buffalo Bills 37–24.
  • December 13, 1992 – Redskins' head coach Joe Gibbs coaches what would be his last win at RFK Stadium. The Redskins defeat the Cowboys 20–17.
  • December 22, 1996 – The Redskins win their last game in the stadium, defeating their arch-rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, 37–10. In a halftime ceremony, several past Redskins greats were introduced, wearing replicas of the jerseys of their time. After the game, fans storm the field and rip up chunks of grass as souvenirs. In the parking lot, fans are seen walking away with the stadium's burgundy and gold seats.
  • December 20, 2008 – Wake Forest defeats Navy 29–19 in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl, before a crowd of 28,777, in the first bowl game to be played in Washington, D.C.
  • December 29, 2009 – UCLA defeats Temple 30–21, before a crowd of 23,072, in the second annual EagleBank Bowl.
  • December 29, 2010 – Maryland defeats East Carolina 51–20, before a crowd of 38,062, in the 2010 Military Bowl, formerly the EagleBank Bowl. Great fan turnout from both universities set a bowl attendance record in Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen's final game.


File:RFK Stadium baseball.JPG
  • In the Washington Senators' final home game, on September 30, 1971, the Senators led the New York Yankees 7–5 with two outs in the top of the ninth. After an obese teenager runs onto the field, picks up first base, and runs off, fans storm the field and tear up bases, grass patches, and anything else they can find for souvenirs. The Senators forfeit the game, 9–0.[1]
  • April 14, 2005 – Washington Nationals defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5–3, before a crowd of 45,596, to win their first home opener in Washington, D.C. They go on to sweep the 4-game series.
  • June 17, 2006 – The Washington Nationals overcome the deficit of seven runs against the New York Yankees and beat the Yankees by blowing Yankees closing pitcher Mariano Rivera's save in the bottom of the eighth inning with Alfonso Soriano's steals and José Guillén's triple and Ryan Zimmerman's single in front of a sellout crowd of 45,085 fans.[2]
  • June 18, 2006 – The Washington Nationals defeat the New York Yankees on Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off home run off Yankees ace starter Chien Ming Wang in front of a sellout crowd of 45,157 fans. The Nationals win the three-game series against the Yankees.[3]
  • September 16, 2006 – Washington Nationals' Alfonso Soriano steals second base in the first inning of the game against the Milwaukee Brewers to become the fourth player in the Major League Baseball history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season.[4] (At Shea Stadium in New York City six days later, Soriano becomes the first person ever to reach 40 home runs, 40 stolen bases, and 40 doubles in one season, making him the only member of the 40–40–40 club.[5])
  • July 4, 2007 – Washington Nationals 1st baseman Dmitri Young hits a Grand Slam enroute to a 6–0 Nationals win over the Chicago Cubs before almost 40,000 fans.
  • September 23, 2007 – Washington Nationals defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 5–3, before a crowd of 40,519, in the final baseball game scheduled to be played at RFK Stadium. The win gives the Nationals an overall record of 122–121 in three seasons at the stadium.



1994 FIFA World Cup matchesEdit

Date Time (EDT) Team #1 Res. Team #2 Round Spectators
1994-06-1916.0022x20px Norway1–0Flag of Mexico.svg.png MexicoGroup E52,395
1994-06-2019.30Flag of the Netherlands.svg.png Netherlands2–122x20px Saudi ArabiaGroup F50,535
1994-06-2912.3022x20px Belgium0–122x20px Saudi ArabiaGroup F52,959
1994-07-0216.30Flag of Spain.svg.png Spain3–022x20px SwitzerlandRound of 1653,121

2003 FIFA Women's World Cup matchesEdit

Date Time (EDT) Team #1 Res. Team #2 Round Spectators
2003-09-2112.30Flag of the United States.svg.png United States3–122x20px SwedenGroup A34,144
2003-09-2115.1522x20px Brazil3–022x20px South KoreaGroup B34,144
2003-09-2417.0922x20px Norway1–422x20px BrazilGroup B16,316
2003-09-2419.4522x20px France1–022x20px South KoreaGroup B16,316
2003-09-2712.4522x20px France1–122x20px BrazilGroup B17,618
2003-09-2715.30Flag of Argentina.svg.png Argentina1–6Flag of Germany.svg.png GermanyGroup C17,618

United States Men's National Team matchesEdit

The United States Men's National Soccer Team has played more games at RFK Stadium than any other stadium in the world.[10] Some have suggested that due to the nature of RFK and its quirkiness that it would be a suitable national stadium if US Soccer were ever to seek one out.[11][12] Several prominent members of the national team have scored at RFK including: Brian McBride, Cobi Jones, Eric Wynalda, Joe-Max Moore, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Landon Donovan. Winners are listed first and all games are friendlies unless otherwise noted.

Date Competition Team Res. Team Spectators
05-12-1990FriendlyNetherlands AFC Ajax1–1Flag of the United States.svg.png United States 18,245
10-19-1991Friendly22x20px North Korea2–1Flag of the United States.svg.png United States 16,351
05-30-19921992 U.S. CupFlag of the United States.svg.png United States3–122x20px Republic of Ireland35,696
10-13-1993FriendlyFlag of Mexico.svg.png Mexico1–1Flag of the United States.svg.png United States23,927
06-18-19951995 U.S. CupFlag of the United States.svg.png United States4–0Flag of Mexico.svg.png Mexico38,615
10-8-1995FriendlyFlag of the United States.svg.png United States4–322x20px Saudi Arabia10,216
06-12-19961996 U.S. Cup22x20px Bolivia2–0Flag of the United States.svg.png United States19,350
11-3-19961998 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)Flag of the United States.svg.png United States2–022x20px Guatemala30,082
10-3-19971998 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)22x20px Jamaica1–1Flag of the United States.svg.png United States51,528
05-30-1998FriendlyFlag of Scotland.svg.png Scotland0–0Flag of the United States.svg.png United States46,037
06-13-1999 FriendlyFlag of the United States.svg.png United States1–0Flag of Argentina.svg.png Argentina40,119
06-3-20002000 U.S. CupFlag of the United States.svg.png United States4–022x20px South Africa16,570
09-3-20002002 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)Flag of the United States.svg.png United States1–022x20px Guatemala51,556
09-01-20012002 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)22x20px Honduras2–1Flag of the United States.svg.png United States54,282
05-12-2002FriendlyFlag of the United States.svg.png United States2–122x20px Uruguay 30,413
11-17-2002FriendlyFlag of the United States.svg.png United States2–022x20px El Salvador25,390
10-13-20042006 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)22x20px Costa Rica2–2Flag of the United States.svg.png United States29,793
10-11-20082010 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)Flag of the United States.svg.png United States6–122x20px Cuba 20,249
07-08-20092009 CONCACAF Gold CupFlag of the United States.svg.png United States2–122x20px Honduras26,079
10-14-20092010 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF)22x20px Costa Rica2–2Flag of the United States.svg.png United States36,243
06-19-20112011 CONCACAF Gold CupFlag of the United States.svg.png United States2–022x20px Jamaica45,424



Motor sportsEdit

  • On July 21, 2002, the American Le Mans Series held its first event in Washington, DC. The National Grand Prix was run on a temporary circuit laid out in the RFK stadium parking lot, and was the first major motor sports event held in the District of Columbia in 80 years.[17] Originally a ten-year agreement was signed to host the race on a yearly basis.[18] However, due to noise complaints from local residents the contract was canceled after the first edition and the event has not been run since.

Volunteer serviceEdit

  • On January 19, 2009, the day before the Presidential Inauguration, A Day Of Service for Our Military was held at RFK Stadium as a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service. This was a joint operation by Serve DC and Operation Gratitude. At this event, 12,000 volunteers made over 80,000 care packages for American Troops overseas.[19]

Washington Hall of StarsEdit

Script error During the Redskins' tenure, the Washington Hall of Stars was displayed on a series of white-and-red signs hung in a ring around the stadium's mezzanine, honoring D.C. sports greats from various sports. With the reconfiguration of the stadium, it was replaced by a series of dark-green banners over the center-field and right-field fences in order to make room for out-of-town scoreboards and advertising signage. There are 15 separate panels honoring 82 figures. Nationals Park also hosts a smaller version of the display.

To the right of Panel 15 are four banners honoring D.C. United's MLS Cup wins: 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2004. To the right of these banners is D.C. United's "Tradition of Excellence" banner, which honors John Harkes and Marco Etcheverry. To the left of those banners are four banners honoring D.C. United's MLS Supporters Shield wins: 1997, 1999, 2006 and 2007.

Public transportationEdit

RFK Stadium is within a half-mile and easily accessible from the Stadium-Armory station of the Washington Metro. The station is served by the Blue and Orange Lines, and will add the Silver Line in the future. It is also served directly by Metrobus lines B2, D6, E32 (at Eastern High School), 96 and 97.

Food vendorsEdit

RFK Stadium is home to such eateries as:

  • Forescore Grill
  • The Diamond Club
  • Burrito Brothers
  • Dominic's of New York
  • Stars and Stripes Brew
  • Red, Hot & Blue BBQ
  • AR Seafood
  • Cantina Marina




‡ Part-time



External linksEdit

Script error

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