Josh Hakala has the story of an innovative idea to remove all the disadvantages of the Silverdome as an MLS venue in one swoop. It’s simple but brilliant: Put a roof at the top of the lower (edit: not upper, which makes no sense) deck, creating an enclosed space below — two of them, actually — for concerts, basketball, hockey, maybe even indoor soccer. Then remove the roof on top of the upper deck, and voila — it’s a 30K-ish soccer stadium.
Roof, gone. Capacity decreased to something reasonable. Without knowing the particulars, I’d have to think the width of the field wouldn’t be an issue, either, unless the Silverdome’s current upper deck juts out really far.
Sounds somewhat expensive, of course, so we’ll have to see if the capital is actually there. But at least they’re not trying to find a site from scratch like New England or D.C. United.
Could this sort of outside-the-box thinking help United?
Forget the political problems for a moment and consider this possibility: The Redskins return to the site now occupied by dilapidated RFK Stadium. No NFL team would move into a smallish, dated, crumbling facility, whatever its charms. So RFK would need to come down — preferably demolished rather than simply collapsing on its own — and a new stadium is needed.
Suppose that stadium had the following:
– A field that slides out, as in the Arizona Cardinals’ stadium and Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. You could actually roll a grass field on top of an artificial field if desired. You could have separate fields for soccer and football.
– A retractable roof between decks. Making a soccer stadium out of the upper deck, as in the Silverdome plan, might be tricky — I can’t imagine retractable roofing is designed to bear that much weight. But you could close the roof all the way for “indoor” events, or you could close it partway to make a nice soccer stadium out of the lower deck.
All we need to make it happen is a couple hundred million dollars and the agreement of several political bodies. At least the former would be less of a problem with the Redskins’ involvement.