WASHINGTON — Daniel and Tanya Snyder may sell the Washington Commanders. But will that development change any leaders’ feelings in the region on possibly building a stadium for the team?
On Wednesday, the Washington Commanders announced the Snyders have hired Bank of America to start the process of selling the team.
The professional football team has run into its share of controversies, over the last two decades, under Daniel Snyder’s leadership. One of the most recent sagas surrounding the team involved its effort to find a new stadium site in either DC, Maryland, or Virginia.
However, so far, the Commanders’ attempts to build a new facility in either one of the three jurisdictions have failed.
Many fans have speculated the Snyders' potential sale of the team could clear the way for more local leaders to accept the Commanders in their locales.
WUSA9 reached out to leaders in DC, Maryland, and Virginia on Wednesday to see if they had anything to say about a potential Commanders project.
District of Columbia
- Mayor Muriel Bowser
The Mayor has repeatedly expressed interest in bringing the team back to Washington, D.C.
In late June, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson wrote Bowser a letter that said if Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton were to introduce legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives requesting the federal government transfer the RFK stadium site to the District, that it include language stating: “the land not be used for a professional sports stadium.”
Mendelson cited the opposition presented by multiple DC council members on the stadium issue as his reason for writing the letter to the Mayor.
But Bowser declined to support the effort.
“What I am unwilling to do is include the Mendelson rider that says to Congress you decide what’s good for the District of Columbia,” she said. “I am the Mayor of D.C. The Council is the elected legislature of D.C. And we should decide what’s good for us.”
On Wednesday, Bowser answered questions about the team. She said she had just learned of the development regarding the Snyders prior to her press conference.
“There have been a lot of objections raised about the team coming back to RFK where it played for many years and the ownership was one, the name was one,” she said. “So, I think a number of the obstacles that people have raised as criticisms, those are two big ones.”
A Bowser spokesperson reiterated the mayor still wants to bring the team to D.C. The mayor added she did not have any special relationship with the Snyders.
“I don’t know if I have a relationship with him other than what I would with any other business owner,” she said.
- DC Ward Six Councilmember Charles Allen
The Commanders’ former stadium, RFK Stadium, is in D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Councilmember Allen represented the area around the stadium site up until last year.
He said he welcomes the possible change of ownership for the team.
“I think anybody who cares about the Commanders, this team, and what they mean to the D.C. region knows and would support, [that] there needs to be a new owner,” he said. “There has to be a different owner.”
However, Allen’s stance on the Commanders moving back to the RFK site remains the same. The council member said he still opposes such a plan.
“I think just because we find maybe a better billionaire, I still don't think that means we should build an NFL stadium there,” he said. “If our goals are more affordable housing, more jobs, more park space and green space, an NFL stadium just isn't going to be consistent with that vision,” he said.
Allen added there are still many hurdles the District has to conquer to take control of the federally-owned RFK site.
“And, again, I think that the District should have that space so that we can really think about what our future can look like there,” he said. “I just think an NFL stadium is incompatible with what it is that our city truly needs in that space.”
- DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson
“[The Councilmember’s] not opposed to having a stadium in the District, but he won’t support one under current leadership until the investigation report is released by the league. The Chairman is not going to speak to hypotheticals on whether or not the team is being sold.” – Lindsey Walton, Chairman Mendelson’s Communications Director
- Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks
The Prince George’s leader has said in the past she would like to keep the Commanders in the county. Currently, the NFL team plays at FedEx Field, which is located in the Prince George’s county community of Landover.
Alsobrooks said Wednesday her position on keeping the Commanders in her county has not changed.
“We continue to believe that Largo is the best-suited location for the Washington Commanders. A new Commanders stadium would be in the heart of downtown Largo and our Blue Line Corridor, which will include a youth sports complex, an amphitheater, a market hall, a civic plaza, and other amenities that will transform Largo into a sports and entertainment destination for the Commanders, Prince Georgians and visitors across the region. It would also continue to give a home in Prince George’s to employees, local small businesses, and fans who have supported the team for years.” – Alsobrooks
- Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Wes Moore
On Nov. 8, Marylanders will elect a new person to replace term-limited Republican Governor Larry Hogan. Moore told WUSA9 he would like to keep the Commanders in the state, however, he does not support using hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars to do so.
“Of course, I hope to see the team stay in Maryland. I would not, however, support leveraging hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to do it. A Moore-Miller administration would work with the legislature and with local community leaders to ensure that any and all investments in the surrounding area are smart and will help to grow economic opportunity in the region.” – Moore
- Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Cox
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox said he would also like to see the Commanders stay in the state of Maryland.
“The sale of the Washington Commanders demonstrates the problem with Maryland’s anti-business climate," he said. "As governor, I’ll do everything in my power to keep business and bring more opportunities to our great state.”
WUSA9 also asked Cox what his stance on public financing would be for the construction of a new stadium.
“I will bring all the stakeholders to the table to discuss options and will do everything we can as a state to ensure we keep our stadiums," he said.
- Governor Glenn Youngkin
Virginia’s Governor has expressed interest in the past in having the Commanders move south to the Commonwealth. In light of Wednesday’s news, Youngkin’s press office directed WUSA9 to a previous statement he has made about the team possibly relocating.
“If the Commanders are going to relocate they should relocate to Virginia. We are the best state to live, work, raise a family, and have a professional sports team. But our legislators have got to do the work. Come back to me with a frame so that we then can negotiate the best deal on behalf of taxpayers. This is a moment where taxpayers have to be represented. And I feel I’m well-equipped to do that. But we need to get our legislators back and that’s not going to happen until January.” – Youngkin
- State Senator Jeremy McPike
Last year, multiple locations in Prince William County were revealed to be possible target destinations for the Commanders in their stadium search.
State Senator Jeremy McPike represents Prince William County. He said if the Snyders do, in fact, sell the team, it could help ease discussions about bringing them to Virginia or the county.
“I think it alleviates a lot of the question marks and clouds,” he said. “The pending investigations and the other noise that has been surrounding the organization. And, frankly, hopefully, they focus on winning the games like they did on Sundays.”
However, McPike said local residents and leaders would still need to discuss two major issues before any ground is broken in Prince William County. The first one would be transportation.
“I think, ultimately, it still comes back to transit, traffic, [and] transportation issues,” he said. “No matter what I think, it's a helpful conversation. And, I think a lot of fans will be excited to see a change. I know I am personally if that happens.”
McPike said financing of a new stadium would also be another major point of conversation.
“I think what we heard from a lot of people was they don't want Virginia somehow funding any sort of private companies gain,” he said.
- Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Phyllis Randall
Loudoun County has also long been rumored as a potential landing spot for the Commanders franchise. The team’s headquarters are already located in Ashburn.
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall has remained neutral on whether she supports or opposes a new football stadium being built in her county. She said she still has the same stance on the issue.
“The truth is that there's legislation that has to pass in the General Assembly to allow for a football stadium to be in Virginia or Loudoun County,” she said, “So, all the speculation, the talk and rumors, I just thought were premature. I like to deal in facts and data and not speculation and rumors. And, so it was inappropriate for the chair of the county to weigh in one way or the other then and it's still inappropriate, because nothing has passed the General Assembly at this time.”
Randall said she has been happy with some of the moves the Commanders have made so far, like hiring Jason Wright as team president. However, she added it is probably time for Snyder to leave the organization.
“Obviously, as just a human being and a woman, I have been concerned as we all should be with the reports that have come out of what was the Redskins facility and the Redskins organization,” she said. I do think that the environment was toxic and not safe and so those things are very, very concerning.”
As a result, Randall said that makes it harder for counties like hers to do business with the Commanders.
“It’s important to the county to always do business with organizations or entities that we believe, are upstanding and treat their people well,” she said.
- Virginia Delegate Danica Roem
Virginia Delegate Danica Roem, whose district oversees Prince William County, tweeted Wednesday that she is opposed to bringing a stadium anywhere near Interstate 95.
“No matter who’s in charge of the organization, an NFL stadium (let alone a taxpayer-funded one) does not belong along I-95 in Prince William County,” she said. “No commuter stuck for 1.5 days on that interstate in January thought, “You know what would make this better? Stadium traffic.”
- Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler
WUSA9 also reached out to Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler, but it has yet to receive a response.
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