The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Commanders eye three possible sites in Virginia for new stadium, entertainment complex

The Washington Commanders are obligated to continue playing at FedEx Field until 2027. They're considering three potential sites in Virginia to build a new stadium. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Washington Commanders are considering three sites in Virginia for an envisioned “mini-city,” with a new state-of-the-art stadium serving as the centerpiece to a vast entertainment complex, according to planning documents prepared for the project.

The team, which has been in discussions with Virginia officials for months about possibly building a stadium in the commonwealth, is considering three options there — one in Loudoun County and two in Prince William County. The most accessible site from D.C. is in Sterling, near a quarry off the northeast corner of Dulles International Airport. The other two, in Prince William County, are along I-95 in Woodbridge and near the Potomac Shores Golf Club in Dumfries.

All three Virginia sites are at least 27 miles from the Capitol, but only the Sterling site is accessible to the Metro, assuming the Dulles extension on the Silver Line opens. Some Virginia lawmakers have discussed potentially expanding Metro to serve one or more of the proposed sites.

While Maryland and D.C. officials are also still engaged in discussions with team officials about a new stadium, Virginia’s efforts to lure the Commanders to the commonwealth have intensified in recent weeks, coinciding with the franchise’s rebrand. Legislation to create a football stadium authority that would oversee the financing and construction of the project has been making its way through Virginia’s General Assembly. The Republican-controlled House of Delegates and the Democratic-led Senate passed similar bills this month by wide margins, but all differences will have to be ironed out before the measures can be considered by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who has expressed support for the project.

Virginia legislature has bipartisan support to build stadium complex for Washington Commanders

If Youngkin signs off, the stadium authority could sell bonds to help fund a stadium worth roughly $1 billion. State Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who described the project as a “mini-city,” said the team would have to invest around $2 billion to complete the surrounding development.

According to the planning documents, the Commanders’ vision for a new complex in Virginia would include much more than a state-of-the-art stadium. For all three locations — in Sterling, Woodbridge and Dumfries — the team has outlined plans for a resort and conference center with an accompanying amphitheater, plus a cinema, a nightclub and a family-friendly venue, perhaps similar to the Lego Discovery Center slated for Fairfax County, along with additional retail and office space as well as housing.

“We want to build more businesses,” Commanders President Jason Wright told The Washington Post last summer. “This could be a business at the scale of our local football business if we do it right. So the design and thinking around the stadium takes that into primary consideration, and that fits with what leaders in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area want. They don’t want something that just sits idle between games. They want something that is driving economic activity on a consistent basis, and we agree with that vision.”

Details of the three potential Virginia sites were first reported by WUSA9. The planning documents were obtained by The Post; a person close to the team with direct knowledge of the plans confirmed their authenticity.

All three sites in Virginia include a stadium that has a 700,000-square foot footprint — for comparison, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., has a similarly sized footprint — with a nearby hotel. They also feature a new training facility for the team, with three outdoor fields, a 92,000-square foot indoor field, team offices and parking.

The plans for Dumfries include a marina attached to a resort, plus a second phase of development for residential clusters with a nearby Metro station (there is currently no stop in Prince William County).

The Commanders do not have an existing lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. — team owner Daniel Snyder also owns the stadium and surrounding land — but they are contractually obligated to play there until 2027. After that, they could head elsewhere or opt to stay.

Eager to compete, Maryland developing multimillion-dollar deal for Washington Commanders

To try to entice the team into staying, Maryland officials are planning to propose a publicly financed entertainment complex to buttress FedEx Field. In D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has encouraged the team to return to the District, possibly where RFK Stadium resides. The multipurpose stadium some two miles east of the Capitol is owned by the federal government.

“We’ve always been focused on getting control of the land at RFK, which we think the situation there is abysmal,” Bowser said at a media event this month. “We have a stadium that’s falling down, surrounded by asphalt, when this city is in need of housing and other amenities, so we’re very focused on that. Second, we have always been very clear that we want the Washington [Commanders] to play in Washington, and we will continue to pursue the best way to get there.”

The Commanders’ focus on a new stadium coincides with calls from Congress to eliminate tax subsidies for newly constructed pro sports stadiums.

This week, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) reintroduced a bill to scrap the significant tax breaks teams receive for their stadiums. Speier told The Post that the goal of the legislation is to, in part, send a message to the NFL and Snyder that Congress will not condone sexual harassment in their workplace. Speier is a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which has been investigating the NFL’s response to widespread allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct in the Commanders’ workplace.

“There is no justification for these multibillion-dollar franchises to be eligible for tax-exempt municipal bonds,” Speier said. “This is tax dollars that could be used for any number of really important public-interest programs. Over the course of 20 years, it [represents a loss of] $4 billion — and probably much more.”

NFL hires former U.S. attorney, SEC chair to investigate Daniel Snyder and Commanders

The NFL recently appointed former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White to investigate new allegations of sexual harassment against Snyder. In a roundtable this month, former Commanders marketing manager and cheerleader Tiffani Johnston told members of Congress that Snyder put his hand on her thigh during a work dinner and pressed her toward his limo, allegations Snyder called “outright lies.”

The NFL said White’s findings will be made public and Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine if they warrant further disciplinary action.

What to read about the Washington Commanders

Exclusive: An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused Commanders owner Daniel Snyder of asking for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Post. A team investigation concluded the woman was lying in an attempt to extort Snyder.

Capitol Hill: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the committee intends to issue a subpoena to compel the testimony of Snyder.

Kevin B. Blackistone: If NFL players care about social justice, why haven’t they rebuked the Commanders’ defensive coordinator?

Penalized: The NFL fined Commanders head coach Ron Rivera $100,000 and docked the team two OTA practices in 2023 for excessive hitting during their offseason program this year, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.