New Commanders Stadium Options Dwindling

June 9, 2022

DC & Virginia Make Stadium Statements

Just a few months ago, the Washington Commanders appeared on the brink of securing a pathway for a new stadium with one of the three interested localities (DC, Va, and MD). Virginia was even in discussions on a stadium funding bill that could have paid most of the cost. Flash forward to today, and the team’s options may have now dwindled so far, they can either build the stadium with zero public support after buying the land in Virginia or build the new stadium right next to FedEx Field in Maryland.

That reality for Washington’s front office comes on the heels of not only the DC Council moving on in terms of if the Commanders will ever play at the RFK site (still currently owned by the federal government). It also comes after the Virginia legislation decided (on the same day) to shelf the bill that originally was supposed to bring the Commanders up to a billion in financing for a Virginia venue.

DC’s Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen took to Twitter saying, “we will not support an NFL stadium as part of the future of the RFK campus. The debate is done.”

Virginia Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) also said Thursday he is giving up on the stadium bill because of several controversies currently surrounding the organization, including comments by Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio this week in which he called the January 6 incident at the U.S. Capitol building a “dust-up” compared to the protests that followed George Floyd’s death in 2020.

“This obviously was not very helpful, to put it mildly, but there’s so many other things out there,” Saslaw said, referring to investigations into several allegations, including those of sexual harassment and financial mismanagement over the course of Snyder’s ownership. “There were just so many things out there that a lot of people are saying, this thing needs to wait.”

While the team responded to Virginia lawmakers with their own statement, it’s clear that things have gotten a bit more interesting in the last few days. 

“We greatly appreciate the time and effort of bipartisan leaders throughout the Virginia General Assembly in crafting legislation to establish a Football Stadium Authority. Given the complexity of this endeavor, coupled with the remarkable economic development opportunity that we believe our new venue project represent, we support the decision of stakeholders in the House of Delegates and the State Senate to more deeply examine this issue. We look forward to continued engagement and open dialogue with stakeholders across the Commonwealth to share our vision and hear directly from communities on their economic development objectives and how we can be a trusted, reliable partner to realize those outcomes.”

If Washington is unable to secure any funding from the Virginia General Assembly and chooses not to foot the bill completely themselves, they would then be left with Maryland as their only viable choice. Maryland has offered the team $400 million in funding; the catch is the money is only to be used to develop the area surrounding FedEx Field in Landover if they decide to stay. Maryland lawmakers want to see more growth in that area than what they’ve seen in the last 20+ years since the team moved there.

What’s becoming painfully obvious is that the Commonwealth of Virginia doesn’t trust Washington’s management enough to want to work with them. That may be something the franchise cannot currently change. If not, the Snyder’s should seriously start to consider the Maryland offer while it’s still on the table unless footing the entire $2-$3 billion-dollar price tag for the stadium on top of whatever the land cost will be in Virginia is something they want to do. The $400 million Maryland is offering could go a long way in improving the overall gameday experience the area surrounding the stadium offers fans. It also helps that Snyder already owns the land…which would leave zero chance of anyone being able to outbid or block him from using it.

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