RFK Stadium – DC United
For over 55 years, RFK Stadium, formerly D.C. Stadium, has stood on the banks of the Anacostia River. Constructed in 1961, it has long been a landmark of DC sports. The Redskins called RFK home for 36 seasons, including their three Super Bowl championship seasons. The Washington Senators played there from 1961 to 1972, but they never won a World Series. RFK Stadium also hosted five group-stage matches during the 1994 World Cup, and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team has more wins at RFK than any other stadium in the world.
D.C. United, one of the original teams of Major League Soccer and RFK’s current tenant, have called the stadium home since their inception in 1996. Two decades later, D.C. United has done little to update what has now become an antiquated relic. The place just looks neglected, which is a shame, considering its history. Massive patches of rust can be seen on the exterior of the stadium, many of the seats are broken, and the upper deck is closed off for MLS games.
Food & Beverage 4
The 200-level — or main — concourse at RFK is filled with concession stands offering all sorts of Latin American fare. Peruvian chicken, quesadillas, carne asada, plantains, and churros are just some of the ethnic food offered here. They also have barbecue, cheese steaks, ice cream, funnel cakes, and the like. A full list of concessions and their locations can be found on D.C. United’s website.
My personal favorite is the pupusas. For those of you who don’t know what a pupusa is, it is a traditional Salvadorian dish that consists of two corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and pork and served with homemade coleslaw. They can be found outside sections 205, 209, 227, 312, and 317. Three of these amazing things cost $6. It’s worth it. Carne asada literally means “roasted meat” and will run you $12, which is still worth it. Honestly, all of the Hispanic food is worth the price. If you don’t like Hispanic food, you’ll have a rough time.
As for drinks, soda is $5, Gatorade is $4, and a bottle of Aquafina – the same bottle you can buy a case of for $12 at Food Lion – also costs $4. Now to alcohol. Imported beer such as Heineken, Tecate, and Guinness all cost $10. All domestic beer is set at $8. The lemonade stand also offers more than just lemonade. Add vodka to this American classic and pay $10. I would suggest doing that yourself before the game.
Lot #8 is where the supporter groups tailgate before the game. Here you will find some food trucks and corn hole, but the party is somewhat subdued, thanks to all the restrictions that come with being in the nation’s capital. The entire upper deck is completely closed off for MLS games. That’s over half of the stadium. With the upper deck, the capacity is a touch over 45,000. Without it, the capacity shrinks to under 20,000. The 100 level seats along the northeast sideline are home to the official supporter groups of D.C. United. The stands here were designed to move up and down with the movement of the crowd. However, if you are not sitting in or behind those sections, you really won’t catch much.
Spending too much time in the concourses looking for food can also get depressing very quickly. Aside from the food, there is nothing but chipped concrete and rusted iron. I’ll have more on the concourses later in this review.
There really is nothing within walking distance of the stadium, and it’s not a place you want to get caught hanging out in at night. If you do plan on being in the area before the game, head on over to Old Town D.C., a section of D.C. with old buildings, murals, and great food. Star and Shamrock is an Irish/Jewish pub in Old Town that offers your traditional Irish Pub fare, along with Jewish classics and a few crossovers. It’s only about 10 minutes away by car; I wouldn’t advise walking. Also in Old Town is a place called Dangerously Delicious Pies. All of the pies are prepared fresh in-house. You can buy by the slice or take the whole pie. They also do quiche.
There’s a Metro station a couple of blocks away with trains that will take you into the heart of the city.
The D.C. United supporter groups take up sections 127-129. These are people who show up game in and game out, rain or shine to support their team. While the rest of the stadium might not be quite as boisterous, they are no less knowledgeable or loyal. They know all of the players and most of the coaching staff, both current and past. D.C. United has won four MLS Cup championships, as well as a CONCACAF Championship in 1998. The fans at RFK remember those days, and they will be more than happy to tell you about them.
There is plenty of parking in the lots surrounding the stadium and costs $20. Getting in isn’t too bad, but getting out can be a bit of a hassle. Just be patient and you’ll be fine. If you don’t feel like driving through the city or dealing with post game traffic, park outside the city and take the Metro to the Stadium/Armory stop. The Orange, Blue, and Silver lines will all take you to the stadium. These three lines will also take you to the Smithsonian Museums (which are all free) and the National Mall.
Inside the stadium is where things start to get hairy. The 100-300 levels are all located in the lower seating bowl, and one portal can lead to multiple sections. The signs marking the sections are small and often hard to find, if they exist at all. Restrooms aren’t too scarce, but they’re about as old and dirty as the rest of the stadium. I was only able to find two water fountains in the main concourse, and only one of them worked, though I’m not sure that what came out of it was entirely water. There are TV’s located around the concourses and in the 300 level, but most of them are small and have been there for over a decade.
One thing to look out for is the Mezzanine Level. This is the ring above the lower deck and attached to the bottom of the upper deck. While it does provide shelter from the rain, the second row – there are only two rows – is obstructed-view.
Return on Investment 2
The history and ticket prices here are about the only things going for this place. Tickets run from $25 to $60-plus for club seats. The $25 seats offer a pretty good view, and you can usually move around in the 300 level. D.C. United has a new stadium in the works which they plan to move into in 2018, so keeping up with RFK makes no sense at this point.
Game day programs are free, which is always a plus.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Hyatt Regency Washington
400 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Latest Crowd Reviews
I went to the RFK Stadium to see my first MLS game and it was a bit underwhelming. 5/6/2017 DC United vs Montreal Impact - Star Wars Night. We purchased seats in section 109 row 8 that would put us center field down near the players and as luck would have it the weather was cold and raining. The customer service people were super nice and let us exchange or seats for seats of lesser value. The new seats where located under a overhead structure far away from the seats I paid for but we did get out of the rain. The new seats were located section 212 row 14. The stadium was clean and the staff was friendly but there wasn&#039t much of a fan turn out (probably due to the bad weather) and the atmosphere was just miserable accept for the super fans on the other side of the stadium that sang, jumped up and down and waved flags the entire game no matter what the weather was doing. I swear at one point the superfans were jumping and singing so hard I thought that they might break the seating they were jumping on. The entire Star Wars night theme consisted of the mascot dressing in Star Wars gear and a few 501st Legion people walking around. The audio / visuals were not that great and honestly it just seemed to me that even if the rain wasn&#039t falling that MLS games might just be for super fans. I played soccer up to 12th grade and all my children have played their way through school so I&#039m not a novice to soccer but I&#039ve got the same or better show from a lesser league soccer team and didn&#039t pay around 105 for seats.