Gov. McAuliffe: Decisions on Redskins stadium need to be made soon

WASHINGTON — Even though the Redskins are locked in a lease at FedEx Field until 2027, there has still been a lot of discussion in recent years about the next stadium they’ll play in. The team has already retained an architect to help design it. The big questions is where will they build it?

There’s still a lot of time to make that decision, but Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe says it’s not as much as you think. On Wednesday McAuliffe appeared on “Ask the Governor” on WTOP, saying when you factor in all the necessary permitting and land acquisitions “they’ve [Redskins management] got to literally begin in the next year or two to make their decisions of what they need to do.”

McAuliffe says he wants to have Virginia ready to compete for the best deal both for the team and for taxpayers.

“There are creative ways to do it,” says McAuliffe. “As you saw the recent deal out in L.A., there was no taxpayer money involved in that one.”

That particular stadium complex is valued at more than $2 billion, and includes a performing arts center, retail and office space, a hotel and other amenities built along a 300-acre tract of land. It’s one of the rare privately financed deals involving stadiums in recent years.

“These new facilities, they have to be multi-purpose. You just can’t use them a couple times a year,” McAuliffe says. “And there’s a lot of creative ways not to do this with development rights around it and so forth.”

If a deal were to be shaped in that way it would stand in stark contrast to what’s happening right now in San Diego, where the Chargers are pushing for tax hikes to help finance a new stadium while threatening to join the Rams in Los Angeles if they don’t get their way.

“I’ve inherited some very bad deals for taxpayers,” says McAuliffe. “When we do an economic development deal it’s got to have a good return on investment.”

“If it makes sense for the taxpayers of Virginia and the folks at the Redskins then we can come up with a deal.”

However at this stage, the governor acknowledges he’s still competing with Maryland and the District. And while there’s a lot of sentiment among some fans to build a new stadium on the site of RFK, the land is still federal property and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell has indicated she would be willing to leverage that in order to force the team into changing its name, something the Redskins have said is nonnegotiable.

But a name seen as offensive by some is not going to be in any deal crafted by McAuliffe.

“I’ve been very consistent,” McAuliffe said as he was leaving. “It’s not the governor’s job to tell private businesses what to do. My job is to create an economic platform so you can be successful. I want people to be in Virginia, I want them making money, I want them paying their state taxes so I can invest more in education and create more jobs.”

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