WASHINGTON — The mystery surrounding the location of a new Washington Commanders stadium has fans hoping and guessing about where the team will build its new facility. Now, never-before-released documents obtained through a source close to the Washington Commanders stadium project that were reviewed by WUSA9 reveal the three potential sites where a Commanders stadium could be built in the Commonwealth.
The documents, which WUSA9 agreed not to show but has permission to report, are marked “Washington Football Team Master Plan Workshop” dated “12.22.2021” and broken into three separate plans:
Master Plan Site A, Site B and Site C.
Site C is roughly 29 miles from downtown D.C. in Sterling, Virginia. According to that plan, the stadium would be built on the site of Loudoun Quarries in Loudon County.
The proposed stadium site in Sterling likely sits in the busiest of the three commercial areas, off Old Ox Road and just minutes from Dulles Airport.
Site B is about 26 miles from downtown D.C. in Prince William County. The location is right off I-95 in Woodbridge, accessible by Telegraph Road and commercial and residential streets.
According to the plans, the Woodbridge stadium site would back right up against an existing neighborhood on Summit School Road. The schematics have the stadium on undeveloped land behind the neighborhood, a stone's throw from residents’ back yards.
The most surprising of Virginia’s three potential stadium sites is known as Site A, and it sits about 35 miles from downtown D.C. in Dumfries, in a Prince William County development known as Potomac Shores.
Potomac Shores is a development in progress with new construction going up across from the land on which the stadium would be built.
According to the blueprints reviewed by WUSA9, all three sites would include more than just a 700,000-square-foot, 16-acre stadium.
The proposal would include outdoor and indoor training facilities and team offices, a 14,000-seat amphitheater, hotels and a conference center, residential buildings and mixed-used retail including nightlife.
While the Dumfries stadium site has the most room to grow, sitting right on the Potomac River, it’s also the furthest from D.C. According to Google Maps it could take up to an hour and a half drive time during rush hour if there was a Thursday night game, and that’s not counting stadium traffic.
A spokesperson for the Washington Commanders could not comment on any of the proposed sites or blueprints reviewed by WUSA9, but the team did not refute WUSA9’s reporting.
During a roundtable at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., on Feb. 3, Commanders President Jason Wright would not commit to any stadium site location or the state of Virginia. But he said the team’s first goal is to be a good community partner.
“Whether it’s D.C., Maryland or Virginia, understanding what leaders in those areas have planned for their constituents from an economic and social perspective, and crafting a vision that gets in line with that” was the goal of the team's stadium talks, Wright said.
“The idea of thinking outside the box of what a normal venue could be, that’s the way that we are thinking about this,” Wright continued. “There are considerations on making sure it's climate-controlled in a way where you can have 100 events a year, and have a retail hospitality complex around it that really drives commerce and drives jobs in the community.”
Wright’s comments came as the Virginia legislature moves closer to passing a $1 billion bond package to help owner Dan Snyder finance a new northern Virginia stadium. Fairfax State Senator and Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, who wrote the stadium bill on the Senate side, says he has been in communication with Commanders' representatives.
“I think that they are leaning towards Prince William,” Saslaw said when asked where he thought the Commanders' new stadium would end up. He did not specify if he believed the Woodbridge site or the Dumfries site was more appealing to the team.
In another possible indicator of where a Northern Virginia stadium would end up, Saslaw cited projected tax revenues for Prince William County, but did not mention Loudoun County.
WHY IS A NEW STADIUM NEEDED?
The lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland — where Washington has played football since 1997 — expires after the 2027 season. Prior to their time at FedEx Field, the team played at RFK Stadium for 36 seasons, from 1961 through 1996.
WHO WANTS IT
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she wants the Commanders to build their new stadium at the site of the old RFK Stadium in Northeast.
"Every major sports franchise in the region calls D.C. home," the mayor tweeted soon after the team's new name reveal. "The next chapter for the Washington Commanders should be a return to winning right here in DC.”
The mayor said though she opposes the District financing the stadium, she would support what the city did with DC United’s stadium, Audi Field. In that case, the city prepared the land that would be needed, which presumably would mean the city would fund everything that would go around the Commanders' new stadium, including housing, parks and retail.
Bowser indicated D.C. would pay not only for all the new development around the Commanders' stadium, but also getting the land ready, which would mean demolishing the old RFK stadium, something Bowser said is long overdue.
Maryland has created the “Maryland Stadium Authority" to acquire the land that Orioles Park at Camden Yards was built on near Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
In January, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he would like to see the team stay in his state.
"Our team has been working together, Prince George's County, state officials, working together with representatives of the team," he said.
Hogan said he talked personally with the Commanders ownership and told them Maryland is very interested in keeping the team.
But he added Maryland is in a holding pattern, waiting for the team to decide what it wants to do, but that the state will fight to keep the Commanders there.
SB 727, which would establish the Virginia Football Stadium Authority, was introduced by Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) and was approved by the Finance and Appropriations Committee 14-2 with one abstention.
Under the legislation, the Virginia Football Stadium Authority would be authorized to sell $1 billion in bonds to help fund a new Washington Commanders stadium in Northern Virginia. The team would be required to invest at least $2 billion. The bonds would be paid back over 30 years, paid for by a projected $3 billion dollars in tax revenue from the new stadium over that period.
Meanwhile, the Virginia House of Delegate Appropriations Committee approved HB 1353 by a vote of 14 to 7.
The bill, sponsored by Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, would create a governing group charged with financing the construction of a new professional football stadium in Virginia. The football stadium authority would also work to finance the construction of the restaurants, retail, parking garages and hotels around the football facility.
The House version of the bill would also allow the stadium authority to issue bonds with a maximum maturity of 20 years to help finance the project.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has said he wants to turn the state's former baseball commission, which once tried to bring the Washington Nationals to Northern Virginia, into a group that would spearhead bringing the Commanders there.
“I do think we should expand the baseball commission to be a baseball and football stadium commission,” Youngkin said. “And of course, we will always represent Virginia taxpayers, but I think we sure would like to have a professional football team in Virginia.”
WHERE IT WON'T GO
Leesburg. On Feb. 23, Leesburg Town Council voted six to one to send a letter to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors opposing a Washington Commanders stadium and commercial complex in Loudoun County.
“We’re concerned about the traffic that this stadium and the attached development with it will incur in the area,” Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk said. “We’re concerned about the overdevelopment of that particular area, so we’re most certainly concerned about the implications of any sort of development along those lines but we are adamantly opposed to any tax money going to the stadium.”
Vice Mayor Fernando Martinez said he was the sole vote against sending a letter of opposition to the board of supervisors. He told WUSA9 he doesn't believe the town took a good look at the economic advantages a stadium could bring.