Jun 9, 2022 - News

Commanders stadium search imperiled after Va. lawmaker ends support

FedEx Field
Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder is getting boxed in: A majority of the D.C. Council opposes a new football stadium at RFK, and a key Virginia lawmaker pulled the plug on his stadium incentive bill.

Why it matters: Snyder is casting about for a new stadium that includes a wraparound entertainment district, but his options are rapidly diminishing amid controversies surrounding the team and little appetite to spend taxpayer dollars on the sports franchise.

Driving the news: The attempt to bring the Commanders to Virginia died on Thursday, per Democratic Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw of Fairfax who led the effort in the state legislature.

  • The powerful Virginia state senator said he was ending his support of a stadium incentive bill, the Washington Post reported.

His reasoning: In addition to investigations of alleged sexual harassment and financial mismanagement, Saslaw told the Post that a team coach this week downplaying the Jan. 6 insurrection “obviously was not very helpful, to put it mildly."

What's more, that morning, seven of the 13 members on the D.C. Council said in a letter to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton that they want the District to gain more control of the massive, federally owned RFK site — but not to build a stadium.

  • Their dream for the riverfront site includes new housing, parks, and retail.
  • Led by Ward 6 council member Charles Allen, who represents the area, the letter in part said: “We also want to make clear that we believe a future football stadium at this site is incompatible with this vision.”

The other side: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who supports a new stadium at RFK, on Thursday shot back at the council members.

  • “Well, how arrogant can you be to suggest that a debate is over when I’m still talking?" Bowser told reporters.

What they're saying: In a statement about Virginia, the Commanders alluded to the potential in the future for ongoing talks with state lawmakers. "We support the decision of stakeholders in the House of Delegates and the State Senate to more deeply examine this issue," the team said.

Paige Hopkins contributed to this report.

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