WASHINGTON — The Washington Commanders proposed new stadium in Northern Virginia would hold a maximum of 55,000 fans, giving it the smallest seating capacity in the NFL, according to an economic impact analysis commissioned by the Commanders and obtained by WUSA9. By comparison, the team’s current home stadium, FedExField in Prince George’s County, currently holds 82,000 people. The franchise’s former stadium, RFK in D.C., held just over 57,000 fans.
The seating capacity was included in an executive summary of an “Economic Impact Analysis” of a Commanders potential stadium site in Northern Virginia, estimates the “direct economic impact of the project will be $24.7 billion in the Commonwealth by 2033, supporting 2,246 jobs when the stadium project reaches “full capacity.”
The forecast, done by JLL Sports and Entertainment, which provides “comprehensive development and real estate services in the sports and entertainment sector” according to its website, also estimates total state tax revenue will be $3.04 billion from 2024 to 2053, the likely term of a potential stadium lease.
A source familiar with the team’s plans also told WUSA9 according to the financial modeling, the project would also generate nearly $5 million per year in funds for new road and transit projects that could support infrastructure around a new multi-use development.
The Virginia Legislature was expected to vote on legislation proposed by Northern Virginia lawmakers which would give Commanders owner Daniel Snyder future stadium tax revenues to build in Loudon or Prince William Counties. The bill overwhelmingly passed through both of the house’s finance committees in January 2022.
But as sexual harassment and financial mismanagement allegations stacked up against Snyder and his front office, the legislation seemingly lost support, first slashed from $1 billion in taxpayer funding to roughly $300 million or less.
Three state senators publicly changed their “yes” vote to a “no” on the stadium funding issue in recent days, including Democrat Chap Petersen of Fairfax, a former season ticket holder.
Petersen argues that there isn’t enough enthusiasm for the team for the Commonwealth to form a longterm partnership.
“I'm not standing up against anybody,” Petersen said. “I think I'm just mentioning something that perhaps is obvious, but nobody wants to talk about which is the Washington Commanders are not the Washington Redskins. And they're not the institution, the icon that we had in this community for 80 years. They are effectively a team with no tradition, and pretty much no fans.”
Artist renderings of the potential new Northern Virginia Commanders Stadium, also obtained by WUSA9, show two versions of the complex, one in burgundy with gold accents and one in white with burgundy and gold team logos. Both appear to have a translucent dome, something team president Jason Wright first publicly committed to in an interview with WUSA9 in February.
Other designs include a practice field set in front of modern team offices with a seating area set back from the sidelines and a retail walk with bars and restaurants.
The stadium funding plan is on life support but is not dead and could theoretically be passed by the Virginia legislature later this month if lawmakers can hammer out an agreement that has the votes to pass. In a statement, Wright said he welcomed the vote delay so the team can better paint a picture for Virginia lawmakers of the economic impact the new stadium could have on the Commonwealth.
“We are grateful for the bipartisan support the stadium authority legislation has already received,” Wright said in the statement, “and any additional time will certainly provide us with more opportunities to share how this project can create new jobs, generate significant tax revenue, and spur economic development for surrounding communities and the Commonwealth as a whole.”