After Commanders Sale, Bowser Makes Move to Bolster DC’s Sports Image

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With eyes on the Washington Commandersnew owners and next moves, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has created a new division to bolster the District’s sports muscle. 

The mayor on Thursday introduced a sports-focused team that will operate within the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). The DMPED sports team will work closely with the area’s professional teams, coordinating across District agencies to maintain, expand and attract world-class sports teams and sporting events to D.C., she said. 

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“Today, we are celebrating our status as the sports capital,” Bowser said at a press conference inside Nationals Park, home stadium of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals. “We are proud that so many world-class teams and athletes represent D.C., and we’re committed to maintaining, expanding and attracting sport in D.C. — from our professional athletes to the future all-stars in our rec leagues.”

As part of that plan, DMPED will also look to expand plans for the area surrounding RFK Stadium, which until 1996 had been the home of  D.C.’s National Football League team for 36 seasons. The mayor’s budget included $60 million to create the SportsComplex@RFK, an indoor arena that will accommodate gymnastics, indoor track and field, boxing and more.

There has also been speculation in recent years that RFK could one day lure the Washington Commanders back home, though the mayor didn’t touch on this in her news conference.

But elsewhere, it was top of mind. This week, Congressman James Comer and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced the D.C. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Revitalization Act, a bill designed to extend the District’s lease of the RFK site for 99 years and allow for mixed-use development of the site. That would potentially allow the Commanders, who are in search of a new home, to return to the D.C..

It’s been a noteworthy month for sports in D.C. The sale of the Washington Commanders was made official; Audi Field hosted the 2023 Major League Soccer All-Star Game, with a sold-out crowd of 20,621 in attendance; and this weekend, the Mubadala Citi D.C. Open, featuring some of the world’s top tennis players, will begin at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.

To keep the momentum going, this fall the mayor and DMPED will host a D.C. Sports Summit to bring together owners, staff and stakeholders from the District’s professional sports teams. No date or further information was made available.

Keith Loria can be reached at Kloria@commercialobserver.com.