RFK Stadium will be remembered for many things. It was the unofficial home of U.S. Soccer matches before Columbus inherited that moniker. And it was the place where 57,431 soccer fans gathered to watch DC United win the 1997 MLS Cup.
In many ways, RFK Stadium was integral in the birth and emergence of the sport in America.
But those days are long gone. In more recent years, RFK Stadium became synonymous with fan controversy and poor attendance.
While suitable when the league was first launched, RFK Stadium was just about the worst possible venue to support an MLS club in the modern soccer era.
Year after year, DC United ranked near the bottom for attendance and everyone from the most casual fan to commissioner Don Garber realized RFK Stadium was a major factor. During a time when most MLS clubs were busy opening new soccer-specific stadiums, DC United dealt with countless setbacks dating all the way back to 2004.
A while back, we wrote about the importance of stadium location when it comes to fan attendance. Well DC United takes that a step further.
RFK Stadium was the perfect example of how poor facilities can directly impact fan attendance. Stadium quality and gameday atmosphere is a major reason why DC United never garnered a consistent, top-tier base. Hell, when fans are stepping over rat traps and actively trying not to touch the metal railings, you know it’s bad.
Fortunately, the next chapter in DC is about to begin.
The long-awaited arrival of Audi Field, which is expected to be complete in June 2018, will bring a new culture to one of the most storied clubs in MLS. Die-hard fans and loose-tie, untucked politicos will equally enjoy the state-of-the-art amenities and environment of a new stadium.
Plus, with a metro population of 6,097,684, Washington, DC has the perfect makings of a soccer supporter powerhouse.
Is the stadium the last piece of the puzzle? Let us know what you think in the comments.