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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Virginia’s Bid For the Commanders’ New Stadium Takes Shape Post-Snyder Era

  • With Dan Snyder out, new owner Josh Harris will have more options for the team's next stadium.
  • Vote on stadium study could be part of Virginia budget proposal next week.
Washington-Commanders
Washington Commanders

There was no certainty that Dan Snyder would sell the Washington Commanders when Virginia’s legislature recessed in February. 

Snyder did offload the team, a deal reached with Josh Harris in May, and the $6.05 billion purchase became official in July. In the meantime, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and lawmakers worked toward adjustments to the budget — one that could include a $250,00 study on the feasibility of building the next Commanders stadium in the state. 

“With Dan Snyder no longer being an owner, this is no longer about economic development versus it being a political referendum on the owner,” Del. David Reid (D-Loudoun County) told  Front Office Sports. 

Legislators were presented with details of the amendment, a source told FOS on Saturday. One of the amendments had sought as much as $500,000 for the study.

The Republican governor announced a special session for Sept. 6 after a deal was reached between the politically split General Assembly to approve changes to the 2023 budget. It won’t be known until about 48 hours before the special session what amendments will be contained in the revised budget, including the proposal for the stadium study. 

A spokesperson for Youngkin’s office said that they “aren’t aware of the details” of the study provision in the budget, and pointed FOS to comments Youngkin made earlier this month.

“I do believe that Virginia would be a great place for the Commanders to not just have training camp, not just have their headquarters, but in fact to play all their games,” Youngkin said.

But even if it doesn’t make the final budget bill, the state is expected to be in the mix as politicians in Maryland and D.C. step up their efforts to be the home for the Commanders’ next stadium. 

“I don’t think there is a concern that we will be left behind,” Reid said.

That’s because the real work would begin when the General Assembly’s next session starts in January. Virginia operates on a two-year budget cycle, and any public money discussions would begin then. 

Virginia was the only player during Snyder’s multiyear effort to replace FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. 

But even a $300 million proposal was shelved in June 2022 amid the numerous investigations into Snyder and the team and a divisive comment made by defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.

Snyder, however, still touted how much money Virginia would be willing to offer. A prospectus provided to Harris’ ownership group stated that Virginia could provide up to $1.5 billion in public funding — half the cost of the domed stadium that Snyder planned to build in Northern Virginia. 

Even under new ownership with local ties, that figure is expected to be a fraction of that, sources told FOS previously. 

The selection of a new stadium is perhaps a couple of years out, and a new stadium may not open until after the current lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027. But Harris’ group acquired the stadium and the approximately 200 acres come with it, and can extend the Commanders’ stay.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has been very vocal about his aim to keep the team in his state. The Commanders have played in Prince George’s County since 1997 after relocating from RFK Stadium in D.C. 

“Keeping them in Prince George’s County is a major priority,” Moore told FOS earlier this month at Commanders training camp. “In our first six months [in office], we’ve already allocated $400 million towards the [Metro] Blue Line Corridor, which is right near the stadium.”

Minus Snyder, there also appears to be less opposition regarding a Virginia stadium location. 

Snyder intended to put the team in Prince William County and had the option to purchase land on a site where fears over traffic on the continually congested I-95 led many to voice objections. 

Two of the three sites proposed initially were in Prince William, with the other in Loudoun County, where the team’s headquarters has been for decades.

Loudoun has the highest median income of any county in the nation, although economic development has consisted mainly of data centers like those surrounding the Commanders’ headquarters. The proposed site is an old rock quarry in Sterling. 

“If you look at it from a transportation perspective, the site would be the best option [of the three originally studied],” Reid said. “It’s located where the Dulles Greenway, Tollway, and Route 28 come together. It’s near Dulles Airport. The Metro station is a mile away.”

Reid has told his constituents that it’s more than just a football stadium, talking up the hotels, bars, restaurants, and even a performance arts center that would be located adjacent to the stadium.

Editor’s note: This story was updated 9/2 after FOS received new information on the stadium study amendment.

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