One day after the Washington Redskins’ heartbreaking loss at FedEx Field, several D.C. Council members said the body is prepared to consider what it would take for the team to move into a new stadium in the District.
Speaking to reporters at his monthly press conference, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said the council “would like to see all professional teams that have the name Washington in their name play in the District of Columbia.”
But Mendelson and council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, stressed that any discussion about the team breaking its lease at FedEx Field in Prince George’s County would have to originate from either team owner Daniel Snyder or Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).
A Gray spokesman said the mayor has had informal discussions with team officials and council members, but the city remains a long way from any sort of “formal negotiations” about a potential new stadium in the District.
“Any deal would have to benefit the residents of the District of Columbia,” said Pedro Ribeiro, a Gray spokesman. “There are many moving pieces with a kind of discussion like this, and he is happy to have that discussion, but now it’s just a hypothetical discussion.”
With the city nearing its debt limit, Evans said that under no circumstances could the District pay “one penny” of the cost associated with building a new stadium. The council would, however, entertain funding “infrastructure costs” such as new streets and parking lots around a new stadium, Evans said.
And as Ribeiro noted, the Redskins so far have shown little public interest in footing the costs associated with building a stadium as well as breaking the lease for FedEx Field, which runs through 2026.
Yet, as they watched RGIII take the team to the playoffs this year, some District officials have grown antsy to get the team back into the District
After the Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 30, council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) tweeted that it was time for “big vision” to lure the team back into the District.
“Lets bring the Redskins back home to a NEW domed RFK stadium,” Barry wrote.
Evans has also been making the case for a new enclosed stadium on the site of the old RFK stadium.
Last month, Evans floated the suggestion that the FBI move its headquarters to the site of FedEx Field in exchange for the Redskins moving back to RFK stadium. Evans and other city officials also tried to convince the Redskins to locate its practice facility in the District; the team ultimately chose Richmond.
“The Redskins are playing in the worst stadium” in the NFC, said Evans, noting that FedEx Field opened in 1997. “Dallas built a new stadium. The Giants have a new stadium … ”
Evans added “it’s only a matter of when, not if” the Redskins will decide it’s time to leave Prince George’s.
When that happens, he said, the council will be prepared to consider whatever sort of agreement the Redskins work out with either Gray or a future mayor.
“One never shuts the door,” Mendelson said.
And for good reason, Evans added.
“There is that old native American curse that the team will never win a playoff game until they move back into the District of Columbia,” said Evans, referring to the team’s lackluster post-season record since it left RFK Stadium in the 1990s.
The Redskins won a 1999 playoff game at FedEx Field against the Detroit Lions. Six years later, the Redskins won a playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road.
This post has been updated since it was first published.