Saturday September 30, 2023

Congress Set to Debate Bill Crucial to D.C.’s Effort to Land Commanders

  • This week, two House Committees will take up the RFK site redevelopment bill introduced in July.
  • Commanders left RFK after the 1996 NFL season, and the site has sat vacant for years.
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A House subcommittee will debate a bipartisan bill on Tuesday that could position D.C. as the potential next home for the Washington Commanders.

The House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands will be the first Congressional body to discuss the D.C. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act, a bill introduced in July. The bill would extend the current lease — which will expire in 2038 — 99 years- and make a new stadium an option for the site Commanders called home for decades. 

“The bill ensures any development of the site will not adversely impact the land,” the memo that detailed the Federal Lands Subcommittee hearing stated. 

H.R. 4984 will also be debated at a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday. The bill is co-sponsored by Oversight Committee chair Rep. James Comer (R-Kentucky) and subcommittee member Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). 

As politicians in Virginia and Maryland have made initial moves to lure the Commanders to their respective states since Josh Harris took over as controlling franchise owner in July, D.C.’s effort is more complicated. 

The National Park Service controls the 190-acre RFK site where the old stadium is in the process of being demolished. 

No sports team has called RFK home since the D.C. United departed after the 2017 MLS season. The Commanders played at RFK for 36 seasons before leaving for FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after the 1996 season. 

“We promised that we have to get RFK back,” D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said in an interview last week. 

But not all D.C. politicians are on board for a return of the Commanders to D.C. as some members of the D.C. Council and neighborhood groups have sought other uses for the land.

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