Travel through time and explore the rich history of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

Key highlighted facts are listed below. For a more detailed history, please download our PDF.


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The first lease for the District of Columbia Stadium is signed by the DC Armory Board and the Department of the Interior on December 12, 1958. The stadium was known as DC Stadium during its early years.

 


Designed by George Dahl, Ewin Engineering Associates and Osborn Engineering, DC Stadium was the first major stadium built as a multisport facility for both football and baseball. Groundbreaking for the $24 million stadium was in 1960.




On October 1, 1961, DC Stadium opens its doors for its first official event. The Washington Redskins lose to the New York Giants, 24-21, before 36,767 including President John F. Kennedy.



 


The official dedication of the stadium is held six days later when George Washington University hosted the Virginia Military Institute, the first football game in Colonials history. Offensive end Paul Munley scores the first two touchdowns on passes from quarterback Bill Hardy and GW wins the game 30-6. 


On April 9, 1962, baseball debuts at DC Stadium. President John F. Kennedy throws out the first pitch as the Washington Senators defeat the Detroit Tigers 4-1 before 44,383. The Senators played at the stadium for 10 seasons before departing for Texas in 1971.




The Beatles perform before 32,164 at the stadium on August 15, 1966. Two weeks later they play their last concert for a paying public at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. 


 


On January 18, 1969, the District of Columbia Stadium is renamed Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium to honor the U.S. Senator and presidential candidate who was assassinated the previous June in Los Angeles. The facility is generally called RFK Stadium and affectionately known as “RFK” around the globe.



Soccer joins football and baseball as mainstay sports at the stadium during the 1960’s including the popular Washington Diplomats of the NASL. Eight professional soccer teams have called RFK home during its history.


 


Concerts are a mainstay at RFK Stadium during the 1970’s. On Independence Day in 1972, the Rolling Stones performed during their Jack Daniels Tour—their first U.S. tour since the 1971 release of their hit album, Sticky Fingers, and the Grateful Dead made the first of many appearances in 1973.


During the inaugural Cracker Jack Old Timers game in 1982, 75-year-old Hall of Famer Luke Appling hit a home run 250 feet to left field. Pitcher Warren Spahn applauded as Appling rounded the bases.


On January 17, 1988, Redskins 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.  Redskins go on to beat the Denver Broncos 42 - 10 in Super Bowl XXII (2nd title) making QB Doug Williams the first African-American quarterback to lead his team to the NFL promise land.
 


In the pouring rain, the Redskins defeat the Atlanta Falcons 24-7 in the Divisional round of the playoffs on January 4, 1992. As time wound down in the fourth quarter, the 55,181 fans in attendance shower the field with yellow seat cushions they were given at the entrance.


Under the starry sky at the stadium on May 22, 1993, Riddick Bowe knocks out Jesse Ferguson in the second round to retain his WBA heavy weight title. In an undercard, Roy Jones, Jr. beat Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins 116-112 for the vacant IBF middleweight belt.


Soccer’s premier event, the FIFA World Cup, is held at RFK Stadium during June and July in 1994. Five games are held featuring national teams from Belgium, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia in group play, and Spain and Switzerland in the Round of 16.


Nine men's and women's first-round soccer games are held at RFK Stadium during the Summer Olympic Games in July 1996. Men's games (6) featured national teams from Argentina, Korea Republic, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Tunisia and the United States. Women's games (3) featured national teams from Brazil, Germany, Japan and Norway. During the Games, the USA tied Portugal 1-1 before 58,012, a stadium record for soccer.



Major League Soccer expands to the nation’s capital in 1996, and D.C. United is born. United ignite a passionate fan base and keep the stadium rocking ever since. Ten days after winning the first Major League Soccer title, D.C. United defeats the Rochester Rhinos 3-1 in the US Open Cup final, achieving the first “double” in American soccer history.
 


On December 22, 1996, the Redskins win their last game at RFK Stadium 37-10 over arch-rival Dallas Cowboys before 65,454, the largest football crowd in stadium history. Through 36 seasons (1961-1996), the ‘Skins played 278 games at the stadium before 14.3 million fans.


During "Blessings '97", Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, officiate over a mass wedding and marriage rededication ceremony that drew 40,000 people including 2,500 Unification Church couples who consented to arranged marriages. After a symbolic sprinkling of water, the Moons led couples in saying "I do" to four pledges recited the noontime ceremony.


On April 14, 2001, Mia Hamm and the Washington Freedom defeat Brandi Chastain and the Bay Area Cyber Rays 1-0 in the inaugural match of the Women’s United Soccer Association before 34,198. The Freedom won the WUSA championship this same year.





In October 2001, RFK Stadium is electric as Michael Jackson headlines “The United We Stand: What More Can I Give” benefit concert in tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.


 


On April 14, 2005, the Washington Nationals, before a crowd of 45,496 including President Bush, former senators and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, start a new baseball tradition in the nation’s capital with a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in their season and home opener. George Bush, formerly a part-owner of the Texas Rangers, is the first president since Richard Nixon to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a home opener in RFK Stadium.


Football returns to RFK Stadium on December 20, 2008 with the inaugural EagleBank Bowl, the first college football bowl game to be played in Washington, D.C. Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner, the game’s MVP, goes 11-for-11 and leads the Demon Deacons to a 29-19 win over Navy. The Bowl game is held annually each December.


A Day of Service for Our Military is held at RFK Stadium as a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service on January 19, 2009. Led by Michelle Obama, Jill Biden and a distinguished group of public officials, 12,000 volunteers made over 80,000 care packages for American Troops overseas.


In October 2010, the US Men’s National Team tied Costa Rica 2-2 in their final World Cup qualifying game for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Noted ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons wrote:
“Did you see Wednesday's incredible USA-Costa Rica game? Phenomenal crowd, upper decks hanging over the field, entire sections swaying, tons of history…..It's an incredible place. Every seat feels like it's right on top of you. So can't we just make it official? Every big American soccer game should be played in RFK. We need the home-field advantage. Done and done."



The EagleBank Bowl is rebranded as the Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman. Proceeds from the newly named bowl benefit the United Service Organizations (USO) in support of the men and women in the armed forces.




On October 5, 2011, Events DC is joined by city officials and former players, coaches and participants in launching the 50th anniversary celebration of RFK Stadium. The celebration was a tribute to the 50 years of sports, entertainment and special events at the Stadium through a combination of interactive programs and community events. The celebration concluded with a VIP dinner at the Walter E. Washington Convention on November 19.



On September 10, 2011, Howard University and Morehouse College renew their historic rivalry in the inaugural AT&T Nation’s Football Classic. Howard freshman QB Greg McGhee, the game’s MVP, led the Bison to a thrilling 30-27 victory. The Classic is held annually each September.       
 


As part of their 100th anniversary festivities, U.S. Soccer hosted the Centennial Celebration Match featuring the U.S. Men's National Team vs. Germany at RFK Stadium on June 2, 2013. The USMNT won 4-3 before 47,359, the 15th highest soccer attendance in stadium history, and overall is 14-3-5 at RFK. The game marked the 22nd appearance for the USMNT at RFK Stadium, the most by the team in any venue in the world. During pre-game, a greeting from President Barack Obama was played on the videoboard.


In 2014, Events DC announced it will be welcoming the opening ceremony for the 2015 World Police and Fire Games at RFK Stadium. With more than 12,000 first responder athletes to compete, the games  projected to generate an estimated $60 to $80 million for Washington, DC region during a traditionally slower period for the city.

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RFK Stadium hosted its first American Beer Classic on the field in 2014. Beer enthusiasts enjoyed a variety of breweries and hundreds of beers.






To read more, view our timelines for each of our venues listed below.