Building a Redskins stadium has never been easy. In his darkest hours during a near decade-long quest for a new venue, owner Jack Kent Cooke gave a glancing thought to moving the team to Los Angeles. Three failed stadium sites will do that. Finally, a dairy farm by the beltway proved to be the answer in 1997.
Predecessor George Preston Marshall, losing money in an old stadium, nearly sent the Redskins to Dallas in 1958 before his last-minute demands killed the deal.
Now, Dan Snyder’s quest for a new stadium — his lease at FedEx Field ends in 2027 — has skidded into fresh uncertainty. Once flush with three suitors hoping to provide a home, Snyder is down to one that doesn’t even control the land in question. Oh, this is going to take a while.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has withdrawn from stadium talks, his office confirmed to The Washington Post on Tuesday night.
Virginia once seemed to be the likely choice, but current Gov. Ralph Northam isn’t interested in perhaps a billion-dollar giveaway.
That leaves the District, which is open to the team returning to its former RFK Stadium site, where it played from 1961 to 1996. But the city’s lease on the federal land would have to be extended before a new stadium could be built.
Snyder’s options include extending talks with the District while hoping to attract a second bidder to gain leverage for an attractive deal; staying at FedUp Field, which the public has long despised; selling the team; or, as Cooke and Marshall did, considering a deal elsewhere.
The London Redskins? Not impossible.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser would be smart to seal a stadium deal now and then work with the federal government to secure the land. She shouldn’t let Maryland or Virginia have second thoughts — more suitors would raise the price for the city.
Besides, Snyder has always wanted to return to the RFK site. There would be neighborhood and political opposition to an extended lease, but Snyder has an ally in a man he has supported, President Trump.
Nobody wants to stay longer than necessary at FedEx Field. Fans hate the place. But Maryland’s withdrawal might delay talks enough to make it touch-and-go to have a new stadium ready by 2027. It takes three years from the first shovel of dirt to kickoff of the first game, so there’s a five-year window to close a deal.
Surely, negotiations in the coming years will result in “sources” saying Snyder is considering selling or moving the team. Fans would rejoice over a sale; Snyder has no leverage there. Leaving would make him more reviled here but a hero in his new home. Art Modell found redemption in Baltimore.
The road to Landover was a decade-long march. The exit may be just as arduous.