- - Thursday, June 2, 2022

Dan Snyder’s plans for a new Washington Commanders stadium look a lot like a Vinny Cerrato draft:

“We have a plan. We know what we are doing.”

It’s as if Mike Tyson is stomping through the DMV punching the Commanders’ stadium plans in the mouth every chance he can.

In Virginia, those plans went from a proposed $1 billion for a Commanders stadium and development to $400 million, then $300 million, then zero.

Those plans have been delayed since votes for the proposed Woodbridge, Virginia, stadium and “mini-city” began disappearing with the realization that legislators were about to sign a check for one of the most contemptible businessmen in the state.

A “mini-city?” This guy couldn’t even keep a beer sponsor for an NFL team. He ran an amusement park company into the ground. What part of Snyder’s resume makes anyone believe he could lead such an ambitious development?

If the Commanders have a “mini-city,” does that make Dan Snyder the mini-mayor?

The Virginia proposal could still come up for a vote in the coming weeks, but Snyder never looks better with the passage of time — only worse.

A lot could happen between now and the time lawmakers have to decide whether or not to cut bait this time around on a stadium development funding package — like the outcome of an investigation by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares into allegations of financial misconduct by the Commanders organization.

Did anyone really think it was a good idea for the state to reward a business while they are the target of an investigation by the state’s law firm?

Miyares’ investigation was generated as a result of the investigation by the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into claims made former team official Jason Friedman that the Commanders allegedly held back as much as $5 million in refundable deposits from season ticket holders, among other allegations. Rep. Carolyn Maloney forwarded a letter to Miyares, District attorney general Karl Racine and Maryland attorney general Brian Frosh that she sent to the Federal Trade Commission saying that Snyder and the football team may have engaged in financial misconduct.

The Commanders have denied the allegations publicly and also in a detailed letter to the FTC, claiming the charges made by Friedman are false.

All three attorneys general represent jurisdictions that have expressed interest in being home for a new stadium for the Commanders. In Maryland, the Democrat Frosh has suggested that if what is detailed in the letter is accurate, the Commanders could be in violation of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act. But he has not publicly declared his office is investigating those charges.

In Maryland, the state has also proposed a plan with $400 million in state funding for a city-like development surrounding a new Commanders stadium in Prince George’s County, where the team’s current stadium is located. But the monies are not necessarily tied to the stadium, and the project would proceed whether the new stadium became a reality or not. After signing the bill, Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters that the funding “wasn’t really about the Commander. I don’t really know what’s going to happen with them.”

In the District, Racine has not only been investigating the Commanders’ financial misconduct allegations, but also the sexual harassment allegations which involved dozens of women who have come forward charging the franchise with years of sexual harassment and bullying — confirmed by the NFL, which called the working atmosphere in the organization “toxic.”

No one in the city really wants the new stadium at the RFK site except Mayor Muriel Bowser. The support is not there on the city council, and, more importantly, based on attending advisory neighborhood committee meetings there, I’ve seen that neighborhood surrounding the stadium doesn’t want it either, pushing for the land to be used for parks and recreation. That neighborhood is far different from when the team used to play at RFK, leaving in 1996. It’s now filled with lawyers and lobbyists and government officials who know how to fight city hall. So whatever Racine concludes in his probe, it won’t likely have much impact on the future of a new stadium in the District. There is none.

The Virginia investigation could prove to be the most interesting — and impactful.

In a letter to team attorney Jordan Siev, Miyares informed the franchise that they were under investigation. “The Office of the Attorney General of Virginia is conducting an official inquiry into this matter,” Miyares wrote. “To be clear, I have not prejudged the issues raised regarding the Commanders. However, I view it as my responsibility to carefully examine the material facts regarding this matter after it was brought to my attention. I request full cooperation and transparency from your client during this inquiry.”

It’s as if no one had been taking the probe by Miyares — a Republican, in a state where the Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, has been a vocal supporter of the state’s commitment to financially help the Commanders stadium quest — seriously, doubting the motivation and eagerness.

But a longtime Virginia political observer said Miyares wouldn’t be going through the motions of such an exercise unless it was serious. “He doesn’t mess around with this kind of stuff,” they said. “There has got to be something driving this.”

It’s not known when the findings of Miyares’ investigation will be made public. A spokesperson for his office said they had no further comments on the probe other than their initial statement.

It is hard to believe legislators will agree to sign off on any money for a Commanders stadium development without a clean bill of health from Miyares.

Then there should be the fear in the hearts of Virginia lawmakers pushing for this Commanders development about the scheduled June 22 House Oversight Committee as part of its investigation into the Commanders’ hostile workplace culture, among other issues, and what could emerge from that hearing.

The committee has asked Snyder and his guardian angel, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to appear that day to answer questions.

This is it. This is what the committee has had its sight set on from the beginning of its investigation — Snyder and Goodell in front of them answering questions on camera for the world to see. If it happens, it could be a game-changer.

For now, it is a request — one unlikely to be answered to the satisfaction of the committee. It is difficult to imagine Snyder willing to make such an appearance unless he is forced to by subpoena.

That hasn’t been broached yet. But time may be running out for the committee, which faces the possibility of drastic changes and a Republican takeover after the November elections.

Time, though, may be running out for Dan Snyder, who, if he is lucky, will be around when the Commanders open their new stadium someday next door to Ghost Town Field in Landover — the same place where Jack Kent Cooke landed.

Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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