D.C. Council Member Marion Barry did an hour on WAMU’s Politics Hour Friday afternoon, and right at the end of the segment, he was asked three sports questions.
1) Concerning a new home for D.C. United, Barry said “I want a soccer stadium, but it’s unlikely it’s gonna be at Poplar Point....D.C. United has changed ownership, and the ownership there has not come forth with any proposals.”
2) Concerning the status of Nats Park, Barry said “The development around the stadium is great. I wouldn’t have voted for just a stadium by itself. Vince Gray wouldn’t have, Kwame Brown wouldn’t have and Carol Schwartz wouldn’t have. We voted for it because it would have all that development. Look at the development down there in that part of town. The city gets property taxes from it, we get the sales taxes from it, outside of people coming to the stadium.”
3) Perhaps of most interest to most readers, Barry was asked about the Redskins coming back to D.C.
“That’s fantasy land,” Barry said. “I told Jack Evans the other day, that’s fantasy land. Because No. 1, Dan Snyder is making money head over feet, as they say. There’s no incentive for him to move back to the District....And what should happen, I told Jack this, I said ‘Jack, if you’re so interested in the Redskins coming back...do a study.’ Let’s do a cost-benefit study. Let’s see what happens.”
Now, if you haven’t been following this, there’s actually been lots of chatter about the Redskins returning in recent weeks.
On Monday, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins met with a group of ANC commissioners from wards 6 and 7 to discuss stalled plans for Reservation 13, the 67-plot of land where RFK Stadium, the old D.C. General Hospital and the D.C. Jail are currently located. According to Lisa White, a Ward 7 ANC commissioner who attended the meeting, Hoskins told them that longstanding plans for the site's redevelopment were on hold while Gray continues discussions with team officials over a possible Redskins training facility.
And via ANC 6B09 Commissioner Brian Flahaven:
The Mayor’s Office is continuing to negotiate with Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins to build a training facility at Reservation 13. Until the outcome of the negotiations is determined, any development plans for Reservation 13 remain on hold. Commissioners strongly pushed back that the community must be involved in the decision about a training facility on the site and expressed frustration that the Mayor is not seeking feedback from residents.
Meanwhile, Mark Segraves of WTOP and WJLA went on WJFK’s Kevin and Rock show last week, and talked at length about the efforts by D.C. officials to woo some aspect of the Redskins back to D.C.
“They really believe that this is their toe in the water, the way they can do it,” Segraves said. “They would bring the practice facility back to the area around RFK — not into RFK Stadium, but into Reservation 13, where there are 67 acres of undeveloped land around RFK. They also hope to bring a Redskins Hall of Fame museum that could be on the site as well, that would be a year-round presence, give people more of a reason to go down there year-round....
“Snyder owns that land [in Ashburn], so if the city were to give him the land for free — which is actually owned by the federal government, not the district government. So he gets the land for free, he pays to build his training facility, but then he gets to sell the land in Ashburn, which has got to be worth tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. So he makes a killing selling that land as a development for retail, homes, Six Flags, whatever he wants to put out there. Then he gets the free land in D.C. to build his training facility, and whatever tax breaks the city can throw at him as well if he actually incorporates the team in D.C. There could be a lot of benefits financially to Snyder to bringing the team in....
“Washington wants to have the Redskins play their games in Washington, D.C. The only professional franchise that they don’t have is a football franchise. They would one day really like to have the Olympics come to D.C., they need a big stadium to attract the Olympics if that were ever going to happen, so they really want to have the Redskins come back.
“They know that that’s a long-term goal and a long-term dream, and if this could be the first step in that direction, they would like that, but they’re looking for any way that they can get in, and as some of the people that are close to the negotiations tell me, this is closer than they’ve ever been. And the Redskins, when I called them, rather than their spokesman saying get out of here, we love Ashburn, they said, hey, we’re exploring all of our opportunities.
“Even if at the end of the day the training [facility] doesn’t come, look for this museum, this Hall of Fame. This may be the bone that Snyder throws the District government, that they can build a museum and a Hall of Fame for the Redskins somewhere in the city.”
Eventually, Segraves was asked for his gut feeling on whether anything happens.
“You know, these guys have talked about this for years and years and years, but when I talk to people who say they’re closer than ever before, it means that they’re having very serious conversations with the Redskins. And the Redskins see some advantage to doing this, and they haven’t told the city to just go to hell. And so I think that on paper it can make a lot of sense for Snyder. Let’s face it, this team is looking for some karma, and this may be a way to get back to the roots. Remember, they haven’t won a Super Bowl since they left the city, and a lot of people think that they should be back here.
“I think we’re gonna see something, if not the preseason games or a museum/Hall of Fame come to D.C. or possibly some portion of the training facility. They’re really close and really excited....
“A decision could come in 30 days, but it also could be six months, and the city is willing to wait,.Mayor Gray is one of the biggest sports fans you will ever meet....He knows what having that team in any way shape or form back in the city would mean, not only to District residents but to his career. This is a guy who needs a boost himself. And so they are doing everything they can, moving heaven and earth to make this happen. And if there’s a way to make it happen, city leaders will make it happen.”