Fenty Ponders Plan to Lure Redskins With a Stadium, Perhaps at RFK Site

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 25, 2008; Page B04

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said yesterday that D.C. government officials will consider preparing a proposal to lure the Washington Redskins back to the city.

Fenty told WRC (Channel 4) that he is open to having staff members put together a proposal for how a football stadium could be built, probably at the site of RFK Stadium. The Redskins played at RFK before moving in 1997 to a new stadium, FedEx Field, in Landover.

Mayoral aides stressed that Fenty (D) and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder have not discussed a move.

"What we plan to do since the season is just ended is to see if there is a proposal that can be put together," Fenty said. "I actually think it makes a ton of sense, but I think it would be great for the District to put it down on paper for them to have something to respond to."

Fenty initially was asked about the team during a news conference yesterday in which the city announced the return of Radio One, the nation's largest African American radio broadcaster. The company will build a headquarters in its home town after being based in Maryland for a decade.

D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who had lunch yesterday with the city's chief financial officer, Natwar M. Gandhi, about unrelated matters, said he raised the stadium issue briefly with Gandhi. But Evans said talks are in the preliminary stages.

The subject of winning the team back has surfaced periodically over the years among city officials. Last year, it was reported that Snyder and officials from the previous city administration had spoken quietly about the possibility.

Gandhi confirmed yesterday that he spoke to Evans about it but said: "I have not seen a plan or figures or numbers. Nobody has asked me to put together a proposal. We're willing to do that. We'd have to look at the city's overall financing."

Snyder has built one of the most profitable NFL franchises in the 90,000-seat FedEx Field, the league's largest stadium. But D.C. officials believe he would be willing to listen to an offer of a stadium of equal or larger size that would include a roof and be able to host a Super Bowl, which Snyder covets.

Fenty, when he was a council member, voted against public financing for the $611 million Washington Nationals stadium. Last summer, he broke off informal talks with D.C. United for a new soccer stadium, largely because he thought the public subsidy was too costly.

Gandhi has warned that the city is in danger of overextending itself on the credit market and urged officials to limit public borrowing.

At the Radio One news conference, however, Evans joked about the joy of wooing back businesses, even ribbing Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) of Maryland. "Anytime I can lure a corporation from Maryland back into the District, I will do whatever it takes," he said. "I'm very pleased with O'Malley . . . and his sales tax and property tax increases. . . . It has made it more affordable to live in D.C. than in Maryland."

Staff writer Anita Huslin contributed to this report.

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