- - Sunday, July 14, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I wonder when federal agents were searching the home of D.C. Council member Jack Evans last month if they came across a file that said “Washington Redskins Stadium?”

They might as well shred that one.

The odds that District officials would make a deal with Dan Snyder for a new Redskins stadium in the city went from long shot to Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson odds with the controversy that has nearly drowned Evans politically.

The Ward 2 council member has been the Redskins‘ best friend in the city and the most influential supporter of plans to get the team back. But that influence has been diminished significantly with the political blows Evans has absorbed.

Forced to resign his seat on the Metro Board after an ethics investigation showed he used his power to help friends and associates, he then took a beating on the council last week when colleagues stripped him of his chairmanship of the powerful finance committee.



His opponents barely failed to take all his committee positions away from him, but Evans still faces a council investigation into his alleged conflict of interest and possible influence peddling.

Whatever political muscle he had before — and let’s face it, he would have had to have been the Hulk to convince his fellow council members to do business with someone as politically toxic as Snyder — will now be needed to save his own political future.

The Redskins stadium plans for the District took a blow at the end of last year when federal lawmakers bungled a plan to give control of the old RFK Stadium, which sits on federal land, to the District.

Even if that plan hadn’t failed, building a new stadium for Snyder’s football team faced strong opposition from the council.

Privately, Evans felt he barely had the votes for a complicated proposal that involved trading developmental rights to valuable waterfront land near RFK in return for Snyder building the stadium himself.

Now Evans is in no position to wield any influence for Snyder or anyone else.

This could mark a significant change in the political climate for sports in this town. Nobody has been a bigger champion of sports as a developmental tool in this city than Evans. He was instrumental in the negotiations with Abe Pollin that led the new downtown arena that opened in 1997.

Evans also was the strongest advocate for the new Nationals ballpark on the council in the bitter battle for financing the stadium after the Montreal Expos relocated in 2005.

And he was driven by the idea of bringing the Redskins back to the city. The franchise left RFK Stadium in 1996 for the new stadium Jack Kent Cooke built in Prince George’s County, a facility whose location has been a source of frustration and criticism for Redskins fans since it opened.

Evans has a relationship with Redskins team president Bruce Allen, who at one point helped organize a trip by city officials to Tampa, Florida, where Allen had been general manager, to tour Raymond James Stadium and the Buccaneers practice facility. Mayor Muriel Bowser has worked with Evans on plans to bring the football team back to the city and has publicly declared her support for the Redskins‘ return several times, including at the team’s Welcome Home Luncheon in the city last year.

With Evans‘ political and legal woes, those alliances are done.

The reality is that there may be no place for Snyder, who has been vilified for his controversial tenure as owner of the team and its failures on the field, to call home — save where the team plays now.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has, for now, abandoned plans to push for a new stadium next to the MGM National Harbor. Virginia, always a long-shot, has disappeared from view since the political turmoil involving Gov. Ralph Northam and the scandal involving racist photos found in his medical school yearbook.

And now Evans — the Redskins‘ champion in the city — is under federal and local investigation.

You know what? Don’t shred that Redskins folder just yet. It could be interesting.

Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

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