Redskins take another loss, this time on Capitol Hill

Ben Krimmel
December 23, 2019 - 9:38 am
Categories: 

The Washington Redskins quest to return to playing in D.C. hit yet another snag.

While the team fell to 3-12 on the season Sunday at FedEx Field, the organization suffered another defeat on Capitol Hill. The Washington Post reported an effort to insert language into a massive federal spending bill to clear the way for the Redskins to build a new football stadium on the RFK Stadium site failed for the second straight year. 

The latest setback in Congress means the organization has even less time to secure land and complete the building of a new stadium before the team's current lease at FedEx Field expires after the 2026 season. 

The measure would have altered the lease agreement between the District and the federal government which would have allowed for further commercial development on the RFK Stadium site, which is seen as a prerequisite to building a new stadium on the 190-acre piece of land.

The RFK site is owned by the National Park Service and leased to the city until 2038, with restrictions on its use for sports, recreation, and entertainment. District Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Redskins have pushed for a new stadium to be the anchor of a larger complex with retail, restaurants, and affordable housing.

“We’ve always believed we have the best location,” Bowser said in Feb. 2019. “We think RFK is the most suitable site for not just for a stadium but a whole mix of uses and that’s been our approach with the National Park Service — that the District has to extend its control of the RFK site as well as be able to do more than sports and entertainment uses.”

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and team president Bruce Allen, who has long been tasked with finding the Redskins a new home, were working with local and federal officials in Dec. 2018 to add a provision into a spending bill, but failed to get the measure inserted into a bill during the last days' of the Republican-controlled Congress' session.

This time around the Post reported there are a number of roadblocks, including handing a billionaire NFL owner a deal for public funds or assets, dissent among members of the D.C. Council, and public support. While a November poll by The Post found 59 percent of District residents support a new football stadium in D.C., the survey found six in 10 residents opposed using land or public funds for the stadium.

The Redskins left RFK Stadium for their current home at FedEx Field, originally Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, after the 1996 NFL season. The game-day experience at the Landover, Md. stadium has long been a point of disappointment among Redskins fans and the lack of home-field advantage has been especially noticeable throughout the 2018 and 2019 seasons, which has become a talking point among players.

In Feb. 2019, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told the Redskins he would drop his efforts to persuade the organization to build a stadium on land in Prince George's County. Northern Virginia, home to a large portion of the Redskins fan base, has also been seen as an option, but there has been little interest from the state to build a stadium under Gov. Ralph Northam. 

Allen said in July 2019 there would be news on a new stadium within the next year.

“I would say within a year, that is the timetable we’re looking at,” Allen said on "The Larry O'Connor Show" on D.C.'s WMAL. “Our deadline for making a decision is really 2022 because our lease in Maryland ends in 2026.”

Follow @BenKrimmel and @1067theFan on Twitter.

Related: