Who will pay for a new Commanders stadium? Md. governor hints taxpayers may contribute

When Dan Snyder owned the Washington Commanders, state and local governments were loath to offer any incentives for a new stadium, even with the lease on FedEx Field in Maryland set to run out in just a few years.

At best, he could have expected funding for infrastructure improvements. But money for the stadium itself? That was a line D.C.-area leaders on either side of the Potomac would not cross.

But now that the Commanders have had new owners for a couple of weeks, that opposition might be softening.

Leaders in D.C. continue to lobby the franchise to consider the old RFK Stadium site again, with Democrats in the Wilson Building working with Republicans in Congress to make it happen. And when the team held its first training camp practice that was open to the public, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was there seemingly schmoozing with team executives on the sidelines.

Right now, the team already owns the land where FedEx Field is, and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore is still touting that location.

“Its future should be in Prince George’s County, Maryland,” the governor said during a town hall interview with WUSA9 earlier this week.

Noting that hundreds of millions of dollars in state investment is already pouring into the surrounding area, Moore said, “For me, it’s not just about … ‘are we producing a winner on the field?’ It’s about ‘are we producing a winner outside of the stadium too?’ Are we building economic growth that everyone is benefiting from?”

Moore said he would hope the Commanders’ stadium could help build “new businesses, new entrepreneurs, new pathways to work” in the state.

“The beautiful thing about this new leadership team and the conversations we’ve already had is that they believe in that, there’s the same type of philosophy,” Moore said.

Pressed by WUSA anchor Lesli Foster about whether that meant taxpayer dollars could be used for the actual stadium construction, the governor never said the answer was no.

“I think that’s part of the conversation, part of the negotiation. That’s coming up now,” Moore said. “Where we understand that there needs to be a measure of participation and growth that needs to be led by the ownership team, that’s going to be led by the team owners. … But we also know that when it gets down to the details, it needs to benefit the people of the county, and it needs to benefit the people of the state in order for the deal to make sense.”

In the hourlong special, the governor was also asked about several other topics of interest to Maryland and the D.C. area.

New criteria for choosing FBI headquarters

Moore argued that the latest changes to the scoring system for a new FBI headquarters could make Prince George’s County the best place to build the headquarters.

“Last September, the [General Services Administration] put together their guidelines that I just thought and many of us part of the Maryland delegation, just thought was categorically unfair, that you’re putting proximity to Quantico worth 35 points, which makes absolutely no sense,” Moore said. “And so now, just recently, they come back and have adjusted their guidelines.”

The new guidelines put more of an emphasis on cost and transportation, according to Moore. He says that Prince George’s County has “transportation assets that are already in place to be able to support the building.”

The governor also highlighted how Maryland is already home to many organizations focused on cybersecurity.

“The future mission, as the FBI director has laid out, is things like cyber. Well, Maryland is the home of U.S. Cyber Command. Maryland is the home of Fort Meade,” Moore said. “Maryland is the home of NSA. Maryland is the home of the University of Maryland, College Park and Johns Hopkins University, two of the top institutions in the country focusing on cyber, and yes, on equity.”

Moore then pivoted to how the economic impact in Prince George’s County would be much more dramatic than in Fairfax County, Virginia, which is already the second most economically competitive jurisdiction in the country.

“Prince George’s County, Maryland, is a majority African American jurisdiction, which has done remarkably well considering the fact that, oftentimes, it has been completely neglected when it comes to federal assets,” Moore said. “So if we’re going to … talk about where you’re going to have a building that’s going to have over $4 billion of economic activity, hire over 2,000 people, that if you want to make the best argument about where you can have the largest and the most impactful generational impact on a community, the answer is clear and the answer is simple.”

When it comes to crime and public safety, Moore said the state is putting “over $122 million into local law enforcement,” focusing on keeping out-of-state guns off the streets and targeting repeat offenders.

“We put over $11 million into the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, which in the state of Maryland is the governor’s number one tool for intelligence collecting and intelligence sharing, with all the jurisdictions making sure that we’re doing things like keeping illegal guns out of our neighborhoods, and out of our streets,” Moore said.

Moore made a point of saying that the state is also aware that there are other ways to bring down crime rates that go beyond prosecuting criminals, including making “record investments” in the public education system.

“But also letting people know this — we’re not going to sentence our way out of something — that’s also a bigger challenge,” Moore said. “And that we don’t have to give into the false choice that … you can either deal with public safety or deal with the reality that, right now in the state of Maryland, we incarcerate more African American boys between the ages of 18 and 25 than anywhere else in this country. That’s not the answer.”

Moore also touched on how the state will be limiting taxes on military retirement income for residents.

“In our first legislative session, we passed our ‘Keep Or Heroes Home Act,’ which now gave the largest tax relief to veterans under 55 that Maryland has seen in a generation,” Moore said. “When you look at all the big initiatives that we’re able to do here in the state of Maryland, we’re proud of the fact that we’ve been able to be bold in our first six months, and also not raise taxes on a single Marylander, in fact, give $200 million of tax relief to Marylanders.”

Moore said there’s more to be done for veterans, and retirees overall, in Maryland.

“But we know we’ve got to do more, and specifically for our retirees, especially for people who have already devoted their lives, to supporting the people of our state,” he said.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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