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Washington Commanders considered second DC site for new stadium complex

Poplar Point joins RFK as undeveloped land in the District which could house team's new stadium, but obstacles remain.

WASHINGTON — The Washington Commanders opened its 2023 season on Sept. 11 with a home game at aging FedEx Field and WUSA9 has new information about the team’s search for its next home. 

Sources say the Commanders front office considered a second D.C. site in its search for a new stadium. One which would be an alternative to historic RFK, and an option never revealed publicly.

While the Commanders' well-documented pursuit of the beloved RFK site remains highly unlikely due to federal land use issues and opposition from neighborhood residents and D.C. councilmembers, WUAS9 has learned Commanders front office officials leading the stadium search considered a second stadium site in the District.

The site, next to the home of the Washington Nationals and DC United sits just across the Anacostia River on land known as Poplar Point.

Poplar Point is 110 acres which is enough land for the Commanders to house the stadium and mixed-use retail complex the team envisions. But Poplar Point has some challenges too.

Credit: WUSA9
Poplar Point in Southeast DC

Although the land is in the process of being transferred from federal control to the D.C. government, there are ongoing environmental investigations related to the cleanup of soil contamination to remove hazardous materials.

According to the National Park Service’s Poplar Point webpage, those materials “may pose unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.” And a source close to the stadium project tells WUSA9 the Popular Point site “remains a long shot due to regulatory and environmental remediation concerns.”

Credit: WUSA9
Poplar Point sits along the Anacostia River

The Commanders and team President Jason Wright declined to comment for this report, with Wright staying mum on the team’s future stadium location when addressing the corporate sponsors at the team’s “Welcome Home Kickoff Luncheon” on Sept. 1.

But Wright continues to make conflicting statements regarding the timing of a final decision regarding the stadium’s location. When WUSA9 sat down with Wright for a one-on-one interview at FedEx Field in April 2020 he said the team did not have a target date to be in a new stadium.

“You know timeline is the craziest thing to talk about at this stage,” Wright said at the time, refusing to rule out the possibility the Commanders could be playing at FedEx Field in 2027 or beyond.

But on two different occasions, including in August, Wright reportedly told Commanders to beat writers the team was still hoping to move into a new stadium when the lease on FedEx runs out after the 2026 season.

To make that deadline, the Commanders would need to have a stadium agreement in place as soon as possible. Fans, and even Head Coach Ron Rivera, are waiting on the answer.

“I think that’s it’s a decision that will be up to the upper, upper business people,” Rivera told reporters at that Sept. 1 event.

And as the team kicks off a new era in Washington football questions still linger if the team might ever return to the District, to ‘Fight for ‘ol D.C.’

“We’re not the Maryland Commanders. We’re not the Virginia Commanders,” said former Washington Football cornerback turned media personality, Fred Smoot. “We’re the Washington Commanders.”

Maryland leaders appear to be growing tired of waiting for owner Daniel Snyder to settle on a stadium location moving forward with historic economic development in the area around FedEx Field without the team.

RELATED: Alsobrooks: Prince George's County will not be held hostage by Washington Commanders

And despite WUSA9’s discovery of the second potential D.C. site, Virginia remains the odds-on favorite to land the new stadium complex.

State lawmakers are now considering re-introducing legislation to clear the way for stadium construction. Possibly without a big giveback from taxpayers.

Consumer research data WUSA9 has previously reported there is more fan support for the Washington Commanders in Virginia, than anywhere else in the DMV.

RELATED: Yes, fan support of the Commanders hit an all-time low in the DMV last season

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