Commanders fans celebrate new ownership and mull over new stadium during home opener

Washington Commanders fans cheer at the end of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Landover, Md. Washington won 20-16. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)(AP/Alex Brandon)

Charcoal smoke and a newfound-energy among Commanders fans punctuated the air in the parking lots outside FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, Sunday afternoon.

“I’m feeling great,” longtime Washington football fan Steve Marsh said while deep-frying chicken. “I feel good. I haven’t felt this way in 15, 20 years.”

The fans gathered underneath each tailgate tent seemed to be having the same conversation.

“It’s a new beginning, right?” Christian Goodwin asked rhetorically. “New ownership, it’s been 26 years of you-know-what, but it’s a new day.”

For some, like Michael Pope, the Commander’s victorious home opener against the Arizona Cardinals at FedEx Field was a sort of reunion.

“I took a hiatus over the last two years because of Dan Snyder,” Pope said with tickets in hand. “It’s nice to be focused on the performance on the field and not have to worry about our ownership doing anything.”

For most, it was just nice to see FedEx Field filled with more Commanders jerseys than Cardinals apparel.

“You can see and feel the energy — its completely different,” lifelong fan Carly Edwards said. “You usually come here and it’s all the away teams, but we’ve got some burgundy and gold. And it feels good.”

Charcoal smoke and a newfound-energy among Commanders fans punctuated the air in the parking lots outside FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland Sunday afternoon. (WTOP/Luke Garrett)

‘I’d love to see a new stadium’

While a sold-out crowd filled FedEx Field, many fans said they are ready to get rid of the Landover arena.

“I’d love to see a new stadium,” Edwards said. “Let’s start fresh and get a whole new thing going.”

Come 2027, the FedEx Field contract ends. So far, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin have all said they want the new Commanders stadium — setting up a potential bidding war.

But what do the fans want?

“I’m in Loudoun County, so it would be awesome if they go to Loudoun County,” Austin Johnson said. “But I think, for the entire fan base, it’d be awesome if they go to RFK. I think everyone would love that.”

But Prince George’s County resident Patricia said she wants the Commanders to stay where they are.

“D.C. cannot support a stadium,” she said noting that the District should fund WMATA instead of a new NFL stadium.

Wherever the Commanders end up in 2027, the decision may prove vital to the teams survival and pose a difficult decision for the new owners led by Josh Harris.

Longtime fan Thomas Milberg said if the Commanders move the Commonwealth, he’s done.

“If they move to Virginia, I won’t buy another ticket,” Milberg said.

Luke Garrett

Luke Garrett is a D.C. native dedicated to journalism. He is a reporter and the creator, host and producer of the original WTOP podcast, “DMV Download.” The podcast debuted in 2022. On the show, Garrett takes a weekly look at the biggest stories and ideas in the D.C. region.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up