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DC councilmember: The Commanders belong in DC

DC Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post Wednesday making his case to bring the NFL franchise back to the District.

WASHINGTON — One D.C. lawmaker is making it clear what he wants to see in the Washington Commanders future: a return to the nation’s capital.

On Wednesday, At-Large Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie penned an op-ed for the Washington Post explicitly stating that it was time for the NFL franchise to play in D.C., at the RFK stadium site, once again.

The Commanders moved from the Capitol Hill neighborhood to play at FedEx Field in Prince George’s County in 1996. Over the last several years, the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, has explored moving the team elsewhere in Maryland, D.C., or Virginia.

However, ever since Snyder committed to selling the team to billionaire Josh Harris, the conversation around building a new stadium in the region has intensified.

McDuffie, who also chairs the DC Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development, said he views the construction of a new Commanders stadium, next to the Anacostia River, as a major positive opportunity for the local economy.

“We’re talking about jobs, economic opportunity, world-class football,” he said. “But, also more than simply eight home games a year, we’re talking about entertainment and sports. We’re talking about a world of opportunity.”

WATCH: DC At-Large Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie tells WUSA9's John Henry why he thinks the NFL franchise should relocate back to DC.

McDuffie added the District has learned from previous stadium deals. 

“We have some really great lessons that we learned from Nationals [Park] and Audi Field," he said. “And if you look in and around those areas, it has developed tremendous tax revenue for the District of Columbia.”

However, the councilmember said D.C. should first consider how to get control of the federal land where RFK sits before it debunks the idea due to concerns over any possible public funding.

“I think the question you have about funding a stadium is something you have once you’ve acquired the land from Congress and really engage the community,” he said.

Still, questions over funding were thrust in the spotlight when ESPN reported Tuesday that Harris predicted Virginia could offer more than $1.5 billion in state money to build a new football stadium there.

Virginia State Senator Jeremy McPike, who represents Prince William County, where the Commanders have previously considered building a stadium, told WUSA9 that the Commonwealth must act in its best interests.

“We have a lot of other priorities to take care of," he said. "Education, roads, transportation, mental health — those are all the top priorities right now.”

As for Maryland, Gov. Wes Moore’s office confirmed to WUSA9 that he did in fact talk to Magic Johnson, of Harris’ co-ownership group, before the team’s sale was finalized. It is not known specifically what the two men talked about. 

However, Johnson does have at least one tie to the D.C. region. He has a branded movie theater in Prince George’s County.

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