The promise of new ownership has local governments interested in doing more to help the Washington Commanders find a site for a new stadium. Now, the Commanders franchise itself is working politicians at the local and federal level to help out.
The team and a spokesman for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., confirm that it’s been lobbying Congress to turn control of the RFK Stadium site over to the D.C. government.
The land is currently owned by the federal government, and congressional control is one of the biggest obstacles to potentially building a new state-of-the-art football stadium on the site, the future of which has been a matter of considerable debate.
Manchin chairs a key Senate committee that has a say in the matter of turning over federal land such as the RFK site. Disagreement on what the future of the site should include has hampered the District’s efforts to gain control of the land in recent years.
“We are committed to supporting the city’s efforts to obtain control of the RFK campus,” said a spokesperson for the Commanders in a statement to WTOP. “We are communicating with stakeholders at the federal and local level, sharing our vision for a potential venue that will create jobs and economic growth for the region.”
One major question around the RFK Stadium site is whether the D.C. government would approve construction of a mixed-use entertainment complex on the land just west of the Anacostia River.
For years, the Bowser administration has argued the RFK site is the best place for the Commanders to build a new stadium.
Some of the push for that is sentimental. While the team hasn’t been very good in recent decades, it had its glory years while playing at RFK. But city leaders also argue a stadium would help to provide an economic jolt to the Hill East area.
“We have a unique opportunity to transform unused federal land at the RFK campus into a mixed-use destination that could also bring the beloved Washington Commanders back home to Washington, D.C.,” Mayor Bowser’s office said in a statement to WTOP. “We look forward to continued conversations with the team and our federal and local partners to get this win for Washington.”
In recent weeks, the prospect of a sale has had lawmakers in Virginia taking steps that could lead to the re-exploration of a stadium site in the Commonwealth. Virginia had taken some similar steps in recent years, but a torrent of bad press soured lawmakers and eroded any public sentiment toward doing anything to benefit Commanders owner Dan Snyder.
State and local leaders in Prince George’s County, Maryland, have taken steps in recent years to reinvigorate what it calls the “Blue Line Corridor,” hoping a series of redevelopment projects in an area that includes the site of FedEx Field would also help keep the team in Maryland.
The Commanders already own the land in Maryland. County leaders have vowed to redevelop the area surrounding FedEx Field, regardless of whatever the team ends up deciding.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.