“I am aggressively pursuing the deal, but in fairness we aggressively pursue every deal. We don’t leave any stones unturned,” he said. “There is an interest — they are aggressively looking for a new stadium opportunity…We have 66 percent of the season ticket holders in Virginia. Every player lives in Virginia.”
Stadium locations under consideration include sites along the planned second leg of the Silver Line, in Loudoun County west of Dulles International Airport, sources said recently. McAuliffe declined to name specific stadium sites but said there are sites outside of Loudoun that could work.
McAuliffe said Virginia is where that stadium belongs, so long as the state and team can reach a deal.
“It has got to be a deal that works for the Redskins but that also works for the Commonwealth of Virginia, so we have our Loudoun team showing them different sites. We have a couple potential other sites that we’re looking at, that we are very aggressively going at. I would love to have the Redskins come to the Commonwealth of Virginia. It’s where they belong.”
The Redskins have 12 years remaining on a lease at FedEx Field in Prince George’s County but the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, has begun pushing for a new stadium deal that would allow an earlier departure for new digs.
Redskins President Bruce Allen recently told fans that the team envisions “a more intimate” home field harking back to RFK Stadium.
McAuliffe’s pursuit of the team is aided by his decision to not critique the team’s name, which many Native American groups consider offensive and which Democrats from D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser to President Obama have criticized.
After entering office, McAuliffe visited the team’s training camp and Snyder gave the governor a jersey and jacket with “McAuliffe” on the back (for which McAuliffe reimbursed him).
However if McAuliffe — or any other local official — proposes a heavy subsidy package for the team’s new stadium, the idea would likely draw questions about the economic sensibility of investing in an enterprise that typically hosts only eight games a year, plus pre-season and possible playoff games.
McAuliffe said he was ready for those questions, saying he expected that having the stadium could be a “tremendous economic boon” but that the devil was in the details.
“We’re putting a lot of economic analysis together,” he said. “I have teams of folks that have been working on this. You can’t win, as they say, I hate to use a pun but you can’t win unless you’re on the playing field. So we’re on the field with the Redskins. We’re talking. We’re pushing it. I’m aggressively pursuing it. But … it’s got to make sense for us. It’s got to make sense for taxpayers.”
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz