McAuliffe: Va. courting Redskins, other potential pro sports teams

WASHINGTON — Concerns about the Washington Redskins’ name will not keep the team from moving to a new stadium in the District, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Friday, even as he continues to push for the team’s new stadium to be in Northern Virginia.

When asked on WRVA-AM in Richmond about the Interior Department’s statements that, because of the name, it would not grant a new lease that would allow the team to end up at the RFK Stadium site, McAuliffe said he is “not sure that’s true.”

The team has said it will not change the name, and McAuliffe is pushing for the potential new stadium to come to Northern Virginia regardless of the team’s name. He has said that as a private business, it is up to the team to decide on its own name.

“I’m in the negotiations — clearly D.C. is a very viable option,” he told the station.

McAuliffe said that he met with Redskins ownership recently at the Executive Mansion in Richmond.

“That doesn’t mean we’re gonna get it, nor does that mean we want it, but we should be in that discussion,” he said.

Maryland, where the team plays now, is also involved in the negotiations.

The Redskins’ training camp in Richmond has drawn fewer fans and created a smaller economic impact in the city than was projected, which has left the city holding the bag on costs.

McAuliffe says he does not want to write checks to get deals done. However, his administration has touted the use of economic development grants to draw a variety of businesses to the commonwealth.

Virginia is the most populous state that does not have a major professional sports team playing home games within its borders, but McAuliffe suggests that might change with or without the NFL.

“The folks down in Virginia Beach were in touch with me the other day on a project they’re working on, I called the commissioner of a certain league … at the end of the day, if we can do the Redskins park in Northern Virginia, close to a Metro stop, protect the taxpayers [we will],” McAuliffe said.

A private group is moving to build an arena in Virginia Beach that could be home to an NBA or NHL team in addition to other events.

Any new stadium for the Redskins is years away. The team’s lease at FedEx Field in Landover expires in 2026.

D.C. would need a new lease from the federal government to bring a new stadium to the RFK site because the current lease for the National Park Service land the stadium sits on expires in 2037.

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