Washington’s new football stadium likely won’t be in DC

Washington’s NFL franchise is locked into FedEx Field until 2027, but the team would like to be out of the 18-year old building before their lease expires. Currently Virginia’s governor Terry McAuliffe is aggressively pushing to get a new stadium built in his state, and to prevent the controversial franchise from going back to Washington DC; which is unlikely considering the team’s name, and the lack of support from the federal government

Owner Dan Snyder has decided that he wants a new stadium. (Photo --Brad Mills, USA Today Sports)

Owner Dan Snyder has decided that he wants a new stadium. (Photo –Brad Mills, USA Today Sports)

It seems that owner Dan Snyder would like the new building to end up in Washington DC at the RFK Stadium site, where the franchise played from 1961 until the conclusion of the 1996 season. The team hasn’t had any serious negotiations with DC politicians in a couple of years, mostly because the city’s major politians oppose the franchises name. And because the Department of the Interior will not  continue the city’s lease on the land, if the city is going to use the land to build a new stadium with a team name that the current Secretary of the Interior and President of the United States oppose.

Another hurdle facing any attempt to bring the NFL back to the district is the fact that Congress would have to approve any stadium deal, because the House and the Senate sign-off on DC’s annual budget. The stadium is probably going to cost over $1 billion, need a heavy investment from the city’s tax payers, and a significant infrastructure upgrade in the area around RFK. When you add in the current administration’s opposition to the stadium proposal, it seems extremely unlikely the franchise will return to DC.

There are currently three different pushes to build a new stadium for Washington, the effort that is furthest out in front is Virginia’s thanks to McAuliffe’s activism in the matter. McAuliffe does not appose the team’s name — but he hasn’t publicly supported it either — but he clearly isn’t letting the controversy impact his willingness to bring professional football to his state.

Maryland is behind Virginia, but governor Larry Hogan is starting the process of keeping the franchise in his state. Hogan has sat down with Snyder for a two-hour meeting to discuss the team’s situation, and to make a pitch to keep the team in his state. Unlike McAuliffe, Hogan has come out in favor of Washington’s name.

In August, 2014, Snyder announced to the sporting world that the franchise has started the process of replacing FedEx Field because it’s “17 years old now“.

“I’d like to see it sooner than later, but we love FedEx Field,” he said. “It’s a great place to feature our home games, but it’s 17 years old now. I think it’s time for us to start looking and we’re doing it.

In his interview with CSN, Snyder says that he could envision the new stadium — wherever it opens —  hosting a Super Bowl. According to him, the area deserves it…I’m guessing he means the entire state of Virginia or Maryland because we have no clue where the building will end up.

Washington’s moved into FedEx Field — then called Jack Kent Cooke Stadium — in 1997. The building cost $250 million to build, which doesn’t include infrastructure improvements to handle the crowds, and sat around 91,000 people when it opened. Unfortunately for Washington, the team has struggled to completely sell out all of its seats…that’s forced the team to reduce the stadium’s seating capacity in 2010 and 2011. Yet Snyder has decided that the franchise cannot stay in Landover, Md. and it needs to relocate to a new building.

Snyder is arguably one of the worst owners in professional sports because he has been tone deft with the team’s naming controversy, run the franchise into the ground, and now wants to replace a perfectly good 18-year old stadium simply because of its age. It’s unfortunate that he is (probably) going to get a new stadium, despite his ineptitude as an owner.

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