D.C. Agency Floats Hall

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which manages RFK Stadium, the D.C. National Guard Armory and the construction of the Washington Nationals’ new ballpark, faces insolvency unless it receives a public subsidy this year.

During an oversight hearing before the Washington City Council’s economic committee, leaders of the 14-year-old agency said the commission could be insolvent as soon as this year without an infusion of public cash, according to the Washington Examiner.

Part of the agency’s problem is that it currently spends about $4 million of its annual budget administering RFK Stadium, which has no permanent tenant with the departure of the NFL’s Redskins to FedEx Stadium and baseball’s Nationals moving to their own stadium.

Despite facing a potential $500,000 budget shortfall for fiscal 2008, commission officials are floating the idea of spending up to $6.5 million in improvements to the D.C. Armory in order to turn it into a 10,000-seat concert and expo hall.

The 68,000-square foot Armory, home to the D.C. National Guard, is currently underutilized, according to the Examiner, and proponents of its conversion argue that a concert and expo facility would be a long-term solution as a revenue source.

Before that could happen, the agency would have to invest approximately $1.5 million to install air conditioning and upgrade electrical and restroom facilities. An additional $5 million would be needed to wall off a portion of the hangar floor and install acoustical ceilings, according to the paper.

One councilman was quick to criticize the proposal. "I’m not really interested in a 10,000-person nightclub," Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, who represents the area surrounding the D.C. Armory, told the Examiner.