As the Washington Commanders search for a new home, Virginia, Maryland and District politicians are signaling that they don’t intend to engage in a bidding war against each other in order to land the next stadium.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters Tuesday he’d like to keep the Commanders in the state, but added he won’t commit to the $1 billion price tag associated with the project. The governor’s comments came days after District Mayor Muriel Bowser echoed a similar sentiment — telling Bloomberg News that she can’t win the “political fight” it would take to bring the team back to the city.
Both leaders made the remarks in light of Virginia’s push to attract the franchise, which already has practice and office facilities in Ashburn. Last month, Virginia’s House and Senate passed two bills that would establish a football stadium authority — a crucial step in luring the Commanders. State Sen. Richard Saslaw, a Fairfax Democrat, estimated that the state would issue $1 billion in bonds to build the stadium for Washington, but that number has since been lowered to $350 million.
Hogan accused the team of pitting the three jurisdictions against each other in negotiations.
“I think they’re using everyone back and forth as they have been for eight years,” Hogan said of the Commanders. “They’re negotiating, pitting everyone against each other. … But we’re not going to get in a bidding war over them and we’re not going to be proposing $1.2 billion for them to build a new stadium.
“If Virginia wants to do that and they want to go to Virginia, I would say, ‘good luck.’”
Despite Hogan’s public stance, Maryland officials have been working to keep the team. Delegate Jazz Lewis told The Washington Times he sees Maryland as “still in the game.” Officials are working on a proposal that would build a public entertainment complex to support a new stadium — a project in which the state is reportedly willing to commit hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds.
Under the proposal, the Commanders would remain in Landover with the stadium closer to the Morgan Boulevard Metro stop, currently a mile away from FedEx Field.
“If other folks are trying to leverage conversations for ulterior purposes, I can’t speak to that,” Mr. Lewis said. “All I know is everything we’re doing is toward a broader plan on how to make the most of that space and land for the people who live there.”
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Miss Bowser said she won’t match Virginia’s $1 billion bid. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Miss Bowser would see the $350 million price tag as more palatable.
An issue facing the District is that the land eyed for a potential stadium — the site of RFK Stadium — is federally owned land. So far, the city has run into obstacles in securing that land. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told The Washington Post she was working on a bill that would sell the land back to the city, but made clear the process is still in the early stages.
Miss Bowser suggested she would eventually have to stop pursuing the Commanders. The team’s lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027.
“At some point, I’m going to move on from it,” Miss Bowser said.