As a result, team owner Daniel Snyder has begun wooing state and county officials in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Early signs suggest the most likely outcome will be a new stadium at the site of the current one, FedEx Field, in Landover in Prince George’s County.
Many Redskins fans would not welcome that result. The site lacks a convenient Metro station, and is not close to restaurants or bars for postgame celebration — or mourning, given the team’s recent performance. To addresss that, Snyder is promising a domed stadium, usable all year, to anchor a multipurpose entertainment complex including a hotel, restaurants and retail.
Other locations could end up winning the prize, and the team says all options remain open. If the team moved to Northern Virginia, Prince William County appears to be the most likely destination. Congress may eventually hand over the RFK land to the District.
“We have great relationships with officials in Virginia, Maryland and D.C.,” the team said in an emailed statement. “We are just beginning discussions and open to opportunities in all three locations.”
But the Landover site offers so many advantages, and the alternatives pose so many obstacles, that Prince George’s has to be seen as the favorite for now.
For one thing, Snyder already owns more than 200 acres at and around FedEx Field. That means there’s plenty of land for the vision he’s pitching. In addition, top Prince George’s officials enthusiastically welcome the proposal. They don’t want to be stuck with an empty stadium if the team leaves.
Snyder’s plan also complements the county’s strategy for new development next door in Largo, where a regional medical center and the Carillon mixed-use project are under construction.
“For us, it provides a really wonderful opportunity,” said County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D), who met with Snyder in January. “If you think about the other things that are happening right up the street from it, it’s a very wise investment.”
County Council Chairman Todd M. Turner (D-District 4) said, “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with the football team, and we’d like that to continue.”
Contrast that with the skeptical or even negative response of top officials in some possible locations in Northern Virginia.
Loudoun Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said her government doesn’t know where it would put a new Redskins stadium. Loudoun currently hosts the team’s headquarters and a practice facility in Ashburn, and the county was once viewed as the most likely spot for a stadium if the Redskins landed in Virginia.
“We are very, very happy that they have their training facility and headquarters here, and we hope that does not go away,” Randall said. “As far as a stadium here, we are not in discussion with them about that at all. If we were chasing that, and we had land available, we would be making overtures to them. We don’t even know where we would place that.”
Fairfax was even more dismissive.
“We are not aware of any spaces that would accommodate this, nor has anyone reached out specifically,” said Taylor Holland, chief of staff to Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff C. McKay (D-At Large). “I can’t imagine there’d be any appetite on our board to support this.”
The most realistic location in Northern Virginia appears to be near Interstate 95 in Prince William County. Newly elected Prince William Board of Supervisors Chair Ann B. Wheeler (D-At Large) said she was reversing past reluctance in the county to seek the stadium.
“With a change in leadership comes a fresh perspective,” Wheeler said. “Prince William County is open for business and we are exploring opportunities that directly benefit our residents. . . . A Redskins stadium is one that we are happy to explore.”
Disadvantages for a Prince William site are lack of Metro access and distance from the Capital Beltway.
Wheeler has not yet corresponded about this with anyone from the Redskins organization, but Northern Virginia state legislators recently met with Snyder.
State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), who organized the meeting, said, “Virginia is very much in the running.” He said the team’s interest “is the most active I’ve seen them in the last six or seven years.”
Regardless of where the stadium ends up, Snyder has said he’ll pay to build it. State and local governments would be on the hook for transportation improvements and other nearby infrastructure.
There’s no deadline for the team to leave FedEx Field. Its agreement with Prince George’s specifies only that it must play in Landover until 2027. But the stadium has deteriorated with age, and both Snyder and fans would like a new one.
Snyder’s outreach is part of a lobbying effort — which appears likely to succeed — to pass legislation in Maryland and Virginiato allow sports betting at a new stadium.
The timing reflected recent setbacks in campaigns by him and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) to bring the team back to the RFK site.
Two key negotiators working for a Redskins-District deal recently lost their jobs. They are former team President Bruce Allen, whom Snyder fired, and former D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who resigned after being charged with ethics violations.
Both departed after Congress, for the second time in a year, rebuffed an effort to extend the District’s lease on the RFK land beyond 2038. One reason was opposition to the team’s name by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations interior and environment subcommittee.
Even if Congress gave the District long-term access to the site, it’s not certain a stadium would go there. The council is divided on the best use for the valuable riverfront property. Bowser has begun stressing that the first priority is to add affordable housing.
“Congress has an opportunity right now to be part of Mayor Bowser’s push to address housing affordability,” said John Falcicchio, her chief of staff and nominee to be deputy mayor for planning and economic development. “Whether a stadium or arena is part of the site is a debate for a later date.”
By the time a polarized and paralyzed Congress gets around to acting on the RFK site, the cranes may already be busy in Landover.