Saturday December 9, 2023

Commanders Stadium Bill Officially Shelved by Virginia Legislature

  • Legislation to create a stadium authority looked promising when it was first introduced in January.
  • Lawmakers became more apprehensive in recent weeks as scrutiny of the Commanders ramped up.
Commanders Vote
Courtesy: Washington Commanders
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Legislators halted efforts to pass a stadium bill aimed at overseeing a new domed stadium project to house the Washington Commanders on Thursday, a day after Front Office Sports reported the legislation lacked enough support for passage.

The legislation would have authorized the creation of the Virginia Football Stadium Authority and manage the public funding of the $3 billion project. The bill will remain in the six-member conference committee and will not come to the floor for a vote before the current session ends in January.  

State Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who sponsored the bill, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that while he still supports the project, it would not move forward in its current form. 

“I think there would need to be a lot of rehabilitation on the part of the team’s image for Sen. Saslaw to bring the legislation back up for consideration,” State Del. David Reid (D-Loudoun County) told FOS. 

Backers of the bill had been concerned there may not be enough support for the legislation to win approval, especially when it came to public funding for the project that was around $300 million. Lobbyists hired by the Commanders had polled legislators in recent days. 

“We are grateful for the bipartisan support the stadium authority legislation has already received, and any additional time will certainly provide us with more opportunities to share how this project can create new jobs, generate significant tax revenue, and spur economic development for surrounding communities and the Commonwealth as a whole,” the Commanders said in a statement to FOS and other outlets. 

Bills were proposed in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates in January and both had more than enough support to move forward into the conference committee, where differences between the two bills — including how much public funding would be allocated — have been debated since March. 

But scrutiny of the Commanders and team owner Dan Snyder ramped up since the initial bills were submitted, including an investigation led by the House Oversight Committee that grew to include allegations of financial irregularities. The team has denied the allegations. 

Two more state Senators then vowed to vote “no” on the bill after comments made Wednesday by Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.

Del Rio described the Jan. 6 insurrection as “a dust-up at the Capitol.” Del Rio issued an apology later Wednesday.  

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