- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2022

The Washington Commanders have purchased 200 acres of land in Woodbridge, Virginia, for $100 million, a source with knowledge of the situation said — marking the latest step in the team’s pursuit of a new stadium.

The land, located in Prince William County, would help the Commanders develop a stadium complex that includes restaurants, retail shops and other amenities beyond the 60,000-seat domed stadium that Washington has planned. 

If the team moves to Woodbridge, the stadium would be roughly 26 miles from the District. According to planning documents reported by WUSA 9 in February, the location is near the Woodbridge exit on Interstate 95. The proposed site is about 37 miles from the team’s current stadium in Landover, Maryland, and 42 miles from the team’s current headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. 

ESPN first reported the news of Washington’s purchase, which came last week and has yet to be filed with the county. The network added that Washington may look to purchase another 65 to 70 acres worth of land in Dumfries, Virginia, but added that the Woodbridge location is the team’s preferred site. 

Despite the purchase, a source said the Commanders are still looking at multiple locations across Virginia, Maryland and the District. 

Complicating matters, Virginia lawmakers have yet to pass a bill that would establish a stadium authority to help build the project. The established stadium authority would be allowed to issue bonds to help fund the stadium, but lawmakers continue to hammer out the details. According to multiple reports, the state lowered the amount lawmakers are willing to commit from $1 billion to $350 million. State officials have said taxpayers will help pay for the stadium, while the Commanders pay for the rest of the development. 

In Maryland, officials have taken a near-opposite approach. Maryland officials are willing to commit $400 million to build out the area around FedEx Field in Landover, leaving the team to finance a stadium. Under the proposal, the Commanders would build a new stadium near FedEx Field but closer to the city’s Metro stop. 

ESPN reported that the Commanders are waiting to see how much Virginia is willing to pay before committing to a site. But by procuring the land, Washington has cleared one important step in the process should the team choose to move to Woodbridge. 

With the Commanders’ lease at FedEx Field expiring after the 2026 season, the team’s executives have spent recent years trying to secure a new stadium.

The proposed design for Washington’s next stadium has evolved over that time. In 2016, CBS’ “60 Minutes” revealed a model of a proposed site that drew comparisons to a moat. That design was scrapped in favor of a 60,000-seat dome stadium that reportedly contains a translucent roof and a stadium facade that can change colors depending on the time of day. 

Monday’s news of Washington’s purchase comes as owner Dan Snyder is dealing with multiple investigations. There are at least four probes into Snyder and the team as Congress, the NFL and attorney generals from Virginia and the District have said they’re looking into allegations of sexual misconduct and financial improprieties. Snyder has denied the claims. 

Over the weekend, USA Today reported that NFL owners are growing increasingly frustrated with Snyder. One owner, who was given anonymity, told the outlet that owners are “counting votes” in the event they need to oust Snyder from the league. NFL bylaws allow for the league to force an owner to sell their team, but the measure has never been used and requires 24 votes from NFL ownership.

The report did not mention how many owners support ousting Snyder, though any such attempt would likely result in a lengthy legal fight. 

The Commanders did not respond to a request for comment when asked about the report. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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