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The Redskins reportedly ‘want a downtown experience’ surrounding their new stadium

FedEx Field in 2015. (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

Among the most consistent complaints about FedEx Field is something that has less to do with the stadium than with its surroundings: there is nothing to do there. The only real pregame entertainment around the stadium consists of tailgating, and maybe visiting that crowded McDonald’s or the one Taco Bell across the street. If you want a drink after the game, you’re welcome to just head back out to the parking lot, where trash may or may not have been spewed around your car, your neighbors may or may not be vomiting, and your fender may or may not have been broken off. (This actually happened to me!)

And sure, there is scenic variety, as long as you consider the Orange Lot a very different sort of place from the Green Lot. There is entertainment, as long as you consider cornhole entertaining. There is retail, as long as you consider those guys wandering around and selling bootleg T-shirts retailers.

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“People come an hour or two beforehand, have a not-totally-desirable tailgating experience, probably drink too much,” former Maryland governor Parris Glendening once told me. “And then when they get out, there is nothing to do, absolutely nothing, except get in a car and drive. What that means is a loss of economic opportunity, and a loss of the full flavor of the event.”

The Redskins have attempted to improve their stadium experience in recent years — and have made some tangible improvements, in my view. But they apparently realize that going to an NFL game now means more than just going to a stadium.

“When we talk to the Redskins organization, what they said to us is they want amenities for the fans to come there; they want a downtown experience,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III told 106.7 The Fan on Thursday morning.

Baker, who is running for governor in Maryland, said he has pitched the Redskins on both a new stadium in their current location, and an oft-discussed move to National Harbor.

“If you look what we’ve done in the county and downtown Largo, which will be redeveloped, they’re actually going to be in a downtown area” in the current location, Baker said. “It won’t be just a stadium by itself. Once we put the hospital there, redevelopment of The Boulevard, it’s going to give it a downtown feel, as if you were in D.C. The other thing, if they’re looking for areas, we’ve got areas that I think are entertainment areas. I told them that area they’re in is going to be great, but also if you look at National Harbor and that area — which is an entertainment district already — you’ve got everything there. Just think about it, you’ve got [the new MGM casino], you’ve got National Harbor Gaylord, Tanger Outlets, and it’s right next to D.C., Virginia [and] Maryland.”

The Redskins’ lease at FedEx Field runs through 2027 but front-office officials are actively seeking a new home. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has been an evangelist for moving the team to Virginia, arguing that the demographics of the fan base and the team’s Ashburn headquarters would make Loudoun County the most sensible spot.

“We’ve laid everything out and served it up beautifully,” McAuliffe told The Post’s Liz Clarke last week. “If they were smart, and they really wanted to be Super Bowl champions, they would have that facility in Virginia.”

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Others have held out hope for the RFK Stadium site, especially with the Trump administration taking a sunnier view of the Redskins name than the Obama administration did. And while D.C. and Virginia officials have lobbied for a move, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that the team should remain.

“We’re going to keep the Redskins in Maryland, there’s no question about that,” he told WMAL. “I can’t imagine them wanting to go out to the middle of nowhere and fight all that Virginia traffic.”

Baker said on Thursday that a new stadium needs to be an active economic driver more than 10 times a year, suggesting both concerts and in-stadium restaurants that would remain open year round. He said mass transit will be an important factor, which he said helps the current location. And he said long-ago suggestions of a move to Bowie wouldn’t work because “what they’re looking for is a downtown feel.”

“I think they’re going to want to build another stadium, but what I want them to take into consideration is [that the current location] actually is going to be a downtown area, and it’s starting to happen now,” Baker said. “The current spot has three Metro stations about it — Morgan Boulevard, Largo and Cheverly — that can all access it. You have the Beltway and several ways of getting into the stadium itself. So I think that area right there, with the development that’s going on … is a great downtown area and fan experience.”

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