Washington commanders have identified three sites in Virginia for a new stadium and entertainment complex
All three Virginia sites are at least 27 miles from the Capitol, but only the Sterling site is accessible by subway, assuming the Dulles Extension on the Silver Line opens. Some Virginia lawmakers have discussed the potential expansion of Metro to serve one or more of the proposed sites.
While Maryland and DC officials are also still engaged in discussions with team officials about a new stadium, Virginia’s efforts to attract commanders to the Commonwealth have intensified in recent weeks, coinciding with the rebranding of the franchise. Legislation to create a football stadium authority that would oversee the financing and construction of the project made its way through the Virginia General Assembly. The Republican-controlled House of Delegates and the Democratic-led Senate passed similar bills this month with wide margins, but any differences will need to be ironed out before the measures can be considered by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who expressed his support. for the project.
If Youngkin signs, the stadium authority could sell bonds to help fund a stadium worth around $1 billion. State Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who described the project as a “mini-city,” said the team would need to invest about $2 billion to complete surrounding development.
According to planning documents, the commanders’ vision for a new facility in Virginia would include much more than a state-of-the-art stadium. For all three locations – in Sterling, Woodbridge and Dumfries – the team have drawn up plans for a resort and conference center with an accompanying amphitheater, as well as a cinema, nightclub and family venue, possibly similar to the Lego Discovery Center planned for Fairfax County, plus additional retail and office space as well as housing.
“We want to build more businesses,” Commanders Chairman Jason Wright told The Washington Post last summer. “It could be a business on the scale of our local football business if we do it right. So the design and thinking around the stadium takes that into consideration, and it aligns with what leaders in the DC area, Maryland, and Virginia want. They don’t want something that sits idle between games. They want something that drives economic activity consistently, and we agree with that vision.
Details of the three potential Virginia sites were first reported by WUSA9. Planning documents were obtained by The Post; a person close to the team with direct knowledge of the plans has confirmed their authenticity.
The three venues in Virginia include a stadium that has a footprint of 700,000 square feet — for comparison, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., has a similar sized footprint — with a nearby hotel. They also have a new team training facility, with three outdoor courts, a 92,000 square foot indoor court, team offices and parking.
Plans for Dumfries include a marina attached to a complex, as well as a second phase development for residential groups with an underground station nearby (there are currently no stops in Prince William County).
Commanders do not have an existing lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland — team owner Daniel Snyder also owns the stadium and surrounding grounds — but they are contractually obligated to play there until in 2027. After that, they could head elsewhere or choose to stay.
In an attempt to entice the team to stay, Maryland officials are considering proposing a state-funded entertainment complex to bolster FedEx Field. In DC, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser encouraged the team to return to the district, possibly where RFK Stadium resides. The multipurpose stadium about two miles east of the Capitol is owned by the federal government.
“We’ve always been focused on taking control of the ground at RFK, which we believe is a dire situation there,” Bowser said at a media event this month. “We have a collapsing stadium, surrounded by asphalt, while this city needs housing and other amenities, so we are very focused on that. Secondly, we have always been very clear that we want Washington [Commanders] play in Washington, and we’ll keep looking for the best way to get there.
Commanders’ emphasis on a new stadium coincides with calls from Congress to eliminate tax subsidies for newly built professional sports stadiums.
This week, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jackie Speier (D-California), and Don Beyer (D-Va.) reintroduced a bill to remove large tax breaks teams receive for their stadiums . Speier told the Post that the purpose of the legislation is, in part, to send a message to the NFL and Snyder that Congress will not condone sexual harassment in their workplace. Speier is a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which investigated the NFL’s response to widespread allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct by commanders.
“There is no justification for these multi-billion dollar franchises to be eligible for tax-exempt municipal bonds,” Speier said. “This is taxpayers’ money that could be used for a number of really important public benefit programs. For 20 years he [represents a loss of] 4 billion dollars – and probably much more.
The NFL recently appointed former US attorney Mary Jo White to investigate new sexual harassment allegations against Snyder. During a roundtable this month, former Commanders marketing director and cheerleader Tiffani Johnston told members of Congress that Snyder put his hand on her thigh during a working dinner. and pushed her to his limo, allegations Snyder called “outright lies”.
The NFL said White’s findings will be made public and commissioner Roger Goodell will determine whether they warrant further disciplinary action.