- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2015

RICHMOND — Bruce Allen said Monday that the Washington Redskins have begun holding discussions with local government leaders on the construction of a new stadium, but cautioned that those talks are in the introductory stages.

Allen, speaking before the Redskins held their final practice in training camp, said the discussions have begun because of the timeframe required to have a suitable stadium in place. The Redskins’ lease at FedEx Field expires in 2026.

“We’ve had great conversations with all the areas and the design is something that we’ve started on, but really, it is preliminary right now,” Allen said, referring to Washington, Maryland and Virginia. “There’s not going to be anything to announce.”

FedEx Field, located in Landover, Maryland, cost $250.5 million and opened in 1997 after just 18 months of construction. Former owner Jack Kent Cooke never saw the opening of the stadium, having died months before it opened, and his estate sold the team and the stadium to Dan Snyder in 1999.

An unspectacular facility, the Redskins have reduced the capacity of the stadium by more than 10,000 seats in recent years, and ownership has made slight improvements to the experience, installing new video boards in 2010 and installing wireless Internet access for fans in 2013.

Allen said that while the Redskins’ lease at FedEx Field doesn’t expire for more than a decade, it’s important for the franchise to begin preparations for a new stadium because such a process hasn’t gone smoothly for other teams. He cited the San Francisco 49ers’ construction of Levi’s Stadium, which opened this past season, and the San Diego Chargers’ ongoing pursuit of a new facility, which has led to the team considering a move to Los Angeles as soon as next season.

“Building a stadium is different than building a house,” Allen said. “We wanted to get ahead of it and start doing the preliminary work. It’s not going to be a new stadium in the next 48 months, so we don’t have to worry about that.”

The Redskins played at RFK Stadium in Washington from 1961 through 1996. If the team was interested in returning to Washington, it will likely have to change its nickname; the land on which RFK Stadium sits is owned by the National Park Service, and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell reportedly told District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser during a meeting in April that she opposes the nickname.

When asked if the Redskins would consider changing the nickname should they decide Washington is the best spot for a new stadium, Allen was dismissive, simply saying, “No.”

“We’ve had a lot of interaction with our fans this year and this offseason, and we’ve listened to them on a number of different issues,” Allen said. “We’re going to find the right location and build the stadium for the fans. We’ll take input from all of them on it, but right now, no, there’s not a leading candidate.”

• Zac Boyer can be reached at zboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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