WASHINGTON — The Washington Redskins practice in Virginia; their corporate home is in Virginia, and most of the players and coaches live in Virginia. But they play their home games in Maryland.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to change that. He’s spent hours, and a few state dollars, trying to convince Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to build a stadium in Northern Virginia.
A stadium deal probably won’t happen before McAuliffe leaves office next year, thanks to Virginia’s one-term limit on governors. But some of the men looking to succeed McAuliffe are ready to take up the fight.
“The Redskins are a Virginia team. Most of its fans are from Virginia,” said Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart. “As governor, I will fight for the stadium to be located in Virginia. It should have been located in Virginia in the first place.”
State Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Va. Beach, is welcoming — to a point.
“We’d love to have the Redskins move to Virginia,” he said.
But how much state money should be involved? “Zero. I think it’s totally inappropriate. We just cut $1.2 billion out of the budget. We made some hard choices, some very hard choices. And quite frankly, I don’t think it’s a priority to help subsidize a billionaire to move to Virginia.”
As for the third major Republican hopeful, Ed Gillespie, spokeswoman Abbi Sigler sent WTOP this statement: “If we can generate jobs and revenue with no loss to the taxpayers, Ed would love to see the Redskins play in Virginia.”
WTOP did not receive responses from the two major Democratic candidates.
Both Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam and former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello addressed the issue of the team’s nickname in statements to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Perriello’s campaign said he opposes the name, a position that sets his insurgent candidacy apart from the rest of the gubernatorial field.
“Tom has long supported Washington’s football tradition but believes that it’s high time the name be changed,” Perriello spokesman Remi Yamamoto said in a statement.
Northam, a McAuliffe ally backed by the Democratic establishment, said the name ultimately is for the team to decide, while making clear that he personally doesn’t like it.
“As a business owner, I wouldn’t name my practice anything offensive, and if I owned a football team, I would apply the same principle,” Northam said in a statement.
The three GOP candidates said they’d leave the nickname alone.
“I love the nickname,” said Stewart. “I have no problem with the ‘Skins. These politically correct ‘nitties’ around the country that are trying to get the team to change its name should be ignored. I will support the Redskins keeping … their nickname.”
“I think it’s much to do about political correctness,” said Wagner. “It’s the Redskins when I grew up. It’s the Redskins while I’m here. And I hope it’s going to be the Redskins far into the future.”
“(Gillespie) will let the Redskins, a private Virginia company, make decisions about their team’s name,” said Sigler.
Technically, the Redskins have been in Virginia for decades. The team’s a subsidiary of a company called Washington Football Inc., based in Ashburn, Virginia, at its corporate HQ and training center, Redskins Park.
But for fans, the team’s home is where it plays on Sundays. And since 1997, that’s been FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Before that, the team’s homes were RFK Stadium and Griffith Stadium, both in the District.
The Redskins play at FedEx Field, formerly known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. Cooke once convinced Maryland officials to name the area around the stadium Raljon, combining the names of Cooke’s two sons. The team’s lease lasts through 2026.