Majority of DC Council doesn’t support Commanders stadium at RFK; Va. tables bill

A majority of D.C. Council members said Thursday they don’t support the construction of a new Washington Commanders stadium at RFK.

And in Virginia, the General Assembly is tabling legislation intended to lure the Commanders to the commonwealth.

Democratic Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said in a brief interview that there were too many issues to be resolved and controversies surrounding the NFL team for the legislation to proceed. It could be reintroduced next year, he said.

 

Sacking the beleaguered Commanders twice, the D.C. Council said in a letter to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton that football stadiums are a poor use of tax dollars that can go toward affordable housing, parks and green spaces at the RFK site.



Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen led the letter, which was also signed by Ward 1’s Brianne K. Nadeau, Ward 3’s Mary Cheh, Ward 4’s Janeese Lewis George, and At-Large members Elissa Silverman, Robert White and Christina Henderson.

Today I led a majority of the Council in sending a letter to @EleanorNorton thanking & supporting her work to bring the RFK site to District control,” Allen wrote on Twitter. “We also spoke unequivocally: we will not support an NFL stadium as part of the future of the RFK campus. The debate is done.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was not on board with the Council.

“How arrogant can you be to suggest that a debate is over when I’m still talking,” Bowser said at an unrelated event.

Phil Mendelson, chairman of the D.C. Council, who was not one of seven members who sent the letter ruling out the RFK site for a new stadium, said it does not represent a final decision. But Mendelson told AP on Thursday that the majority of members opposing using that land for a stadium takes it out of consideration for now.

In a statement, a Washington Commanders spokesman said the team supports Virginia lawmakers’ decision to table the stadium bill for now.

The statement said:

“We greatly appreciate the time and effort of bipartisan leaders throughout the Virginia General Assembly in crafting legislation to establish a Football Stadium Authority. Given the complexity of this endeavor, coupled with the remarkable economic development opportunity that we believe our new venue project represents, we support the decision of stakeholders in the House of Delegates and the State Senate to more deeply examine this issue. We look forward to continued engagement and open dialogue with stakeholders across the Commonwealth to share our vision and hear directly from communities on their economic development objectives and how we can be a trusted, reliable partner to realize those outcomes.”

Commanders’ Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio’s recent comments about the Jan. 6 insurrection were also mentioned as a reason not to support a new stadium in the District.

Del Rio referred to the Capitol Riot as a “dust-up” and issued an apology after doubling down on a comparison he made on social media between the violent attack and protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

He faced immediate backlash.

With D.C. and Virginia out of the running for a new stadium, that leaves the team with only one viable site at the moment: its current stadium in Landover, Maryland.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Andrew Alsbrooks

Andrew Alsbrooks is an Associate Producer at WTOP. Prior to joining WTOP, Andrew worked for NBC Washington and he currently works at NBC Sports Washington from time to time. Finding the “why” in every story is what drives him to put his best foot forward on any topic that faces him.

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