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Commanders lobbying Congress to return RFK site to DC with eye on teams return to the District

Congressional committee signaled support for returning federally controlled land like RFK to local control

WASHINGTON — The Washington Commanders are lobbying members of Congress to give the RFK site back to D.C. for a new stadium. And it appears at least some in Congress think that’s a good idea.

Two congressional spokespeople tell WUSA9 Commanders Vice President of Public Affairs Joe Maloney and an outside lobbyist met with staff for the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the committees that have jurisdiction over federal land transfers.

Transferring the RFK site back to D.C. control would clear the way for the District to make a run at bringing the Commanders back to the city, something Mayor Muriel Bowser said is long overdue.  

A spokesperson for the Committee on the house side told WUSA9 it's time for Congress to take a hard look at returning federal land to local jurisdictions, including the RFK site.

“We’ve known for years that the federal estate is far too large, and this is yet another example of why we need to address the issue,” a committee spokesperson wrote in an email to WUSA9. “There’s no reason the federal government should control access to so much land – it just leads to bureaucratic headaches and red tape when we have to pass formal land conveyances. Congress should take a hard look at shrinking the federal estate and returning managing authority back to local communities, where it belongs.”

While the Commanders have maintained they remain in talks with D.C., Maryland and Virginia for a potential new stadium, the team made clear Thursday that it has a vision for the RFK site.

“We are communicating with stakeholders at the federal and local level, sharing our vision for a potential venue that will create jobs and economic growth for the region and be compatible with the surrounding community and the elected leaders of the District,” a Commanders spokesperson wrote to WUSA9.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also pledged the league's support in Congress to Mayor Bowser in a December phone call.

Some on DC Council, including Chair Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Charles Allen, remain opposed to this idea saying the RFK land should be used for affordable housing.

But in late April, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Chair of the Economic Development Committee, became the highest ranking councilmember to publicly endorse the Mayor’s plan to bring the team back to the RFK site.

McDuffie said he believes D.C. can build a new stadium and new housing on the nearly 200-acre plot of land.

“I think we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity with the RFK site to reimagine it,” McDuffie said.

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