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Commanders president: New stadium to have a dome, will not be going to a highest bidder

WUSA9 spoke 1-1 to Jason Wright, Commanders president, about where the team plans to invest its new stadium and the diminishing support for the team in the DMV.

WASHINGTON — Editor's Note: The video above originally aired March 29. 

Washington Commanders President Jason Wright made a few promises Friday about what fans can expect from the next home of the team, and even gave Prince George's County hope of a future at FedEx Field. 

In a one-on-one interview with WUSA9, the president of the franchise offered his own insight on the location of the Commanders stadium, as leaders in Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland have all been publicly speaking out about where the team's home games should be played. 

Wright emphasized that the location and design of the next stadium will not be something created by team management alone, but rather an "economic development project" that must be considered by all three jurisdictions vying for the stadium. 

"Whether it's Maryland, D.C. or Virginia, this is first and foremost about what they need to create in terms of economic outcomes for the next 30 years for their citizens," Wright said. "It needs to be aligned with the objectives of community leaders and government leaders."

Wright mentioned four design principles that he said will be considered for any location proposal, in order to safeguard the "legacy of the team": intimacy, authenticity, connection and unity. 

Though Wright made it clear the team expects a financial investment in some form where ever it builds a new stadium, as part of a partnership with the jurisdiction hosting the stadium, he said it's not just a matter of going with the highest bidder. 

"That's not at all how we're looking at this ... it's such a mischaracterization of the process," Wright argued. "It's not inciting a big bidding war, it's just actually the due diligence of finding one of the few places in the area that can accommodate 100 to 200 acres, true development of the scale that we think is appropriate." 


Wright added that the proposals in D.C., Maryland and Virginia can't be looked at as "apples to apples" because the opportunities each region affords are unique. 

"The dollar amounts mean something different based on the nature of the site, so it's really about the community telling us what their vision is," Wright said. "It's not about giving Dan money. It's about providing a destination experience for the community."

Wright's sit-down comes two days after WUSA9 reported that Virginia lawmakers were planning to slash the stadium financing package it planned to offer Commanders owner Dan Snyder by 65% from $1 billion to $350 million. However, Virginia has proposed three sites for a potential stadium: Potomac Shores in Dumfries, Woodbridge and the Loudoun Quarries. 

When asked to respond to one unnamed Virginia senator's claims that Virginia reduced its financial package because the team's fanbase has eroded, Wright called that "one man's opinion." 

"It's not that any of that is untrue, about how the fan base eroded over time," Wright admitted. "What is also true at the same time is that it's on an upswing, a very sharp upswing, and that's the momentum that exists ... In the numbers, there is enthusiasm for this team." 

Wright says despite the fact home attendance has fallen from first in the NFL in to second to last, last season, he said this year the team ranks fourth in the league in new season ticket sales, and number two in new club season tickets and suite sales. Wright said that’s 3.5 percent increase in ticket sales at FedEx Field from 2019.

RELATED: Internal documents reveal potential locations of Washington Commanders new stadium

D.C. and Maryland have both said unequivocally that they would not offer any taxpayer money to help Snyder build a stadium. However, they would offer funding for infrastructure improvements and development around the new facility.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is seemingly open to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in development around the stadium, but is opposed to giving Snyder taxpayer dollars to build the stadium itself.  

Wright added that any investment in a new stadium cannot take away from the team's current commitment to the fan experience at FedEx Field. 

"We can't do that to our fans. So we're going to create a great experience [at FedEx]. But there will be a world-class, next-generation experience in a new venue. And that will just add to the momentum we have already." 

Credit: WUSA9

Even at $350 million, Virginia’s stadium package remains the most lucrative being offered to Snyder and the Commanders. The stadium bill will be up for final passage during a special session of the Virginia legislature next week.

The Commanders lease at FedEx Field runs out in 2027, but Wright was non-committal when pressed on whether the team would be in its new home by then.

When asked if there was any chance the Commanders would be playing in FedEx after 2027, Wright said "you can't close the door on anything at this stage.” 

"Timeline is so far from the top of my mind right now," Wright said. "Because we have to figure out so many things in advance of understanding when we would be able to open up a new venue. That said, we're going to be playing here, at least through the 2026 season.

While those comments possibly created more questions than answers Wright was definitive about one thing. Wherever the Commanders lay claim next, the stadium will have a dome. 

"Wherever this lands, it needs to not just be a 15-event-a-year venue," Wright said. "It needs to be something that can draw 90-100 events a year because that's what any community deserves."

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