RICHMOND — With six months before his term expires, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) made his final visit to Redskins training camp while in office Thursday — an annual social call that doubles as a lobbying push to persuade the team to build its next stadium in the state.
“We’ve laid everything out and served it up beautifully,” McAuliffe said in an interview with The Washington Post. “If they were smart, and they really wanted to be Super Bowl champions, they would have that facility in Virginia.”
McAuliffe went on to enumerate the ways in which he believed that a Redskins Stadium in Virginia made the most sense — a pitch he has fervently made countless times in both public and private settings.
“The players all live in Virginia,” he said. “A majority of the season-ticket holders are Virginians. The merchandise sales — the majority are purchased by Virginians. Their headquarters are in Virginia, in Ashburn. … So you look at all these assets and a booming population of 8.5 million people?”
From there, McAuliffe pivoted to the latest method of financing massive NFL projects in which a stadium is part of a vast retail, shopping and hotel complex, by relying on development funds (in addition to considerable tax breaks) to foot the bill rather than taxpayers. The new stadium planned for the Rams and Chargers — Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park — is the prototype.
“You need an area with a big enough land mass to it, like they’re doing in L.A.,” McAuliffe said. “They’re basically building a new city around the football stadium.”
A project on that scale probably wouldn’t be possible on land in the District of Columbia. Maryland, he noted, already has a professional team in the Baltimore Ravens.
“So I feel very good that in the future you’re going to see this team move to Virginia,” McAuliffe said, adding that Northern Virginia had many potential building sites, include one near Dulles Airport along Metro’s Silver Line.
The Redskins’ lease at Prince George’s County’s FedEx Field runs through 2027. While some in the industry say that a site selection for an NFL stadium ideally should be made a decade in advance, McAuliffe said his understanding was that it could be pulled together with just five to seven years’ lead time.
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