Va. wants Commanders to call commonwealth home. But taxpayers would get sacked: expert

Michael Farren, Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, on the possibility of a new Washington Commanders stadium in Virginia

Now that the worst-kept secret in football is official, with the announcement of the Commanders rebranding, there are questions about where the team will play after its FedEx Field lease runs out.

Two bills have been filed in the Virginia General Assembly aimed at luring the team and would create a Virginia Football Stadium Authority. On Friday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin said he is more than open to have the Commanders build a new stadium in the state and has had conversations with the team’s ownership.

“I have spoken to Mister [Dan] Snyder, to understand his aspirations, and I’m hopeful Virginia might be a good place for him,” Youngkin said.

But how much would Virginians pay? George Mason University economist Michael Farren told WTOP’s Dimitri Sotis they would get sacked.

Farren said the potential authority would “be a subdivision of state government, almost like creating a new municipality that would fund the construction of a new stadium and entertainment complex that would go around the stadium, probably with an attached casino.”

According to Farren, Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his family would probably be “very much in favor” of the legislation because, instead of taxpayer money going to the commonwealth, it’d go toward funding the stadium and its complex.

“In other words, it’s kind of like if Amazon … given that it’s now locating in Arlington, didn’t pay any Virginia taxes, and instead, all of its taxes went to build its new headquarters buildings, it’s a pretty good deal if your business can get it,” Farren said. “It’s sad that it’s only going to one particular business, or might only go to one particular business.”

Regardless of where a new stadium might be built, it’ll cost taxpayers: “Modern NFL stadiums are multibillion dollar affairs,” Farren said.

“I fully suspect that given that there is such a push in Virginia, that essentially the writing is already on the wall. The only question is, ‘how much are Virginia taxpayers going to lose out on.'”

Youngkin has said he wants to make sure a new stadium would have to balance with his other goals for the state, adding that he is going to “watch over Virginia taxpayers interests.”

“Virginia should be the best place to in America to live, work and raise a family and maybe, it is best place in America to have a professional football team too,” Youngkin said.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that she would like to see the team playing in the District. But Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Charles Allen said they’re not supportive of that, especially because of sexual harassment allegations connected to the team.

Prince George’s County, Maryland, where Washington’s current stadium, FedEx Field, is located, have hinted at proposed incentives, such as a new training facility and the development of a year-round sports and entertainment venue, to keep the team within its borders.

WTOP’s Dimitri Sotis and Kyle Cooper contributed to this report. 

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for 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.

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