10 Years Later, FedEx Field Is Still Receiving Mixed Reviews
Monday, December 25, 2006
In the decade since Prince George's County officials approved construction of a new Washington Redskins stadium in Landover, vowing to breathe life into a troubled community, resident Freddie Dawkins has waited for the fulfillment of those promises.
Today, the 91,665-seat stadium looms over central Prince George's on what once was a patch of rolling farmland. And Dawkins, a longtime stadium opponent, sees little difference. "From the traffic to the noise, the whole gamut," he said, "nothing good has come out of it."
Ten years after the County Council approved legislation paving the way for the stadium, over the opposition of many in the community, the long-held dream of former Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke remains a controversial one.
Although such opponents as Dawkins say the stadium hasn't revitalized the area as promised, others -- including former elected leaders and Redskins officials -- say it has improved the quality of life inside the Capital Beltway, created jobs and spurred economic development.
"The Redskins stadium ignited a different perspective of the Landover region," said former county executive Wayne K. Curry (D), who participated in often-contentious negotiations with Cooke and then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) over the stadium. "It has been a spectacular success . . . a reversal of fortune for that area."
Karl Swanson, a spokesman for the Redskins, said the team has nearly 100 full-time employees working in Landover. About 3,500 people are employed on game days. "Clearly, from the standpoint of year-round business, we're not one, but we believe we're a good neighbor," he said. "We pay our taxes, and we pay them on time."
It was estimated that the stadium would generate $6 million in taxes annually -- $2 million in property taxes and nearly $4 million in admission and sales taxes, according to a 1997 report.
It is surpassing those projections.
An estimated $10 million was collected in fiscal 2006, according to county spokesman Jim Keary. He said the county tax bill was about $2 million, but the organization paid more than $8 million in admission and amusement taxes.
Swanson said some things cannot be measured, however, including the national exposure Landover receives each time the team plays at home.
County officials say it is evident that the team's presence has enhanced the image of a county that has struggled to bring in high-end commercial and residential projects. They say that investors who once snubbed Prince George's are clamoring to build in the region -- although no one knows the impact the stadium may be having on that.