Fate of RFK revitalization bill, which could lure Commanders back to DC, tied to team’s old logo

For all the latest developments in Congress, follow WTOP Capitol Hill correspondent Mitchell Miller at Today on the Hill.

A U.S. Senate panel has begun considering legislation that could help D.C. in its effort to redevelop the RFK stadium site and bring back the Washington Commanders. But the bill remains a long way from the legislative goal line.

The Senate National Parks Subcommittee on Wednesday took up the measure, as Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., kicked off an effort to use his political leverage to advance the legislation on his terms.

Daines said he will hold up the bill, unless the Commanders work out an agreement with the Native American family that was involved in creating the team’s logo that was featured during its heyday.

Daines said he wants to help the family of Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, a member of the Blackfeet Nation from his state, get the recognition he feels is deserved.

Wetzel designed the logo that appeared prominently on the team’s helmets and a wide range of team paraphernalia for decades.

As he spoke on Wednesday, Daines placed an old helmet featuring the logo and autographs from former players on the dais in front of him.

“I am proud to display it here today,” said Daines, noting he has no intention to bring back the team’s old name. “This logo was inspired and envisioned by Wetzel as a tribute to Native Americans.”

Daines said he spoke with the Wetzel family Tuesday night and hopes the matter can be resolved.

The Washington Post reported this week that a Wetzel family member had met with team representatives and that initial discussions were positive.

The House has already passed the legislation that is now before the Senate. The bill would allow D.C. to enter into a 99-year lease for the site, which is currently under the control of the National Park Service.

RFK Stadium was cleared for demolition earlier this month.

Mayor Muriel Bowser is a supporter of the legislation, which she said she hopes will usher in a new era with the Commanders in the District. Maryland hopes to keep the team, as its new owners consider possible stadium sites. Virginia has also offered up various proposals to attract the team to the Commonwealth.

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Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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