Washington commanders fail to find great sites for new stadium


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The Washington Commanders are in dire need of a new stadium, and they should have a choice of the three jurisdictions from which they draw the bulk of their fans. More than that: they should have these three competing jurisdictions.

Their reality is this: The club is looking at remote locations in Virginia, which has a state legislature gearing up to sour its offer, not sweeten it. Maryland officials are so oblivious to the commanders’ presence in Prince George’s County that they’re pledging $400 million to develop the area around FedEx Field even if the team doesn’t stay, a municipal shrug.

And the one site that would be almost universally embraced — at DC’s RFK Stadium — isn’t controlled by the people who govern DC. Without fundamental change, it’s not just a romantic notion. He’s a non-runner.

“You don’t just build a stadium, find a site and start innovating,” Commanders owner Daniel Snyder told longtime Washington sportscaster Chick Hernandez. “It takes time.”

Well, at least they’re realistic, right?

Wait, let me check my notes. … Snyder said this to Hernandez in 2014.

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The question is now urgent. Commanders are bound to play at FedEx Field, a universally hated stadium dump, throughout the 2027 season. Here’s a prediction: They’ll play there in 2028, too. they are faced.

There was a time when the Washington Post began its editorials like this: “Suddenly the local summer story is how a man with big money, a beloved football team and changes of heart almost every hour drives a metro area crazy. That was 30 years ago, when Jack Kent Cooke was looking to replace RFK and was being courted by Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder and DC Chairman John A. Wilson.

What would Snyder give to make this area wild, even for a day?

Clearly, the commanders are pushing the stadium issue to be at the forefront of discussions around the team. It’s not just because it’s important. It’s an attempt to obscure everything swirling around the organization: Congressional and NFL investigations into the misogynistic workplace overseen by Snyder, allegations of sexual harassment against the owner himself, and allegations financial irregularities.

Given these conversational options, why not ask head coach Ron Rivera to tweet a sketch from design firm Bjarke Ingels Group?

“I saw the designs for our new command post – our new team headquarters with meeting spaces, training grounds and a training facility,” Rivera tweeted on Thursday. “Sounds great! Proud of what we’re building.

Excluded: where they build it.

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Here’s the problem with such distraction tactics: the politicians who have to approve the hundreds of millions of dollars the commanders want to help fund a stadium and develop the area around it – they don’t fall for the trap. Snyder’s problems relate to his ability to find a suitable site everywhere, let alone draw competing jurisdictions into a bidding war. What he offers is not what Cooke could offer: a proud championship-winning franchise that was a unifying force in the region. Instead, he offers an on-field product that has produced five winning seasons this century who carries more luggage with him off the field than he passes through Dulles International Airport in a year. It’s a wounded asset at best.

Consider what Virginia Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), a lifelong Washington football fan, told my colleague Laura Vozzella about the differences between the franchise Cooke was trying to peddle for and the one Snyder is pitching now.

“This team has defined our community for generations,” Petersen said. “The commanders in Washington are not that team. They have no history, no lore, and no fan base. I don’t see them as a suitable economic partner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, because I don’t think they have the community support to survive.

Or, as Petersen said Thursday during an appearance with JP Finlay and former Washington standout Brian Mitchell on 106.7 the Fan: “The irony is: would it be easier to do with an expansion team? ? The answer could be yes.

It’s not hard to translate that into: who wants to do business with this guy?

Commanders acquire rights to purchase 200 acres in Virginia for potential new stadium

So what are the options? The team chased land along Interstate 95 in the Woodbridge area, more than 40 miles south on the Beltway and on I-95 from FedEx Field – news that broke Monday and was met , appropriately, with rolled eyes. Depending on traffic, it could take residents of Prince George’s County – the heart of the fanbase – anywhere from 45 minutes to, say, eight hours to get to a game.

“What time should we leave for Thursday night’s Commanders game against the Cowboys?”

“You mean, ‘What time Wednesday?’”

There is a quarry near Dulles which is a potential site. There is another possibility in Dumfries near the Potomac Shores Golf Club. The problem with all of these Virginia options, aside from this sheer geography, risks alienating what’s left of the existing fan base: Virginia lawmakers are working on lowering the amount of public funds that could go to such a project at less than $300m – that from a legislature that earlier this year looked set to lose $1bn in tax revenue if the stadium came to the Commonwealth .

DC is sitting there because Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) cannot introduce a bill calling on the federal government to sell the land around the RFK site back to the city while Snyder is caught up in a congressional investigation.

So, is the best place — gulp — the land Snyder already owns around FedEx Field? How do they market this? Hey Washington, we’ve brought you the country’s worst fan experience in a generation. From now on, we offer you: FedEx 2, Electric Boogaloo!

It is not impossible that a stadium will be built by the end of the team’s commitment to its current home. The Las Vegas Raiders broke ground on Allegiant Stadium in November 2017 and opened it in July 2020, less than three years ago.

But the commanders don’t have a site. They have no momentum. They have jurisdictions that not only do not actively try to attract them, but try to drive them away. It’s not because the politics and economics surrounding the use of taxpayers’ money to help wealthy owners build stadiums have always been suspect. It’s because of this team right now – and the man who owns it.

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