A new Commanders owner could reboot interest in a new NFL stadium – The Washington Post

“It just became impossible with Dan there — not only for us, but for Virginia and Maryland,” said Evans, who was instrumental in structuring deals that brought Capital One Arena and Nationals Park to the District. “I think it became a game-breaker. As long as he owns the team, there will not be a new stadium. Period. That’s just not going to happen — unless he builds on land he already owns at FedEx Field, which would be a disaster, and did that with his own money.”

More than six years later, the team has no site, no suitors, and no plan for financing the roughly 60,000-seat, open-air facility that Snyder envisions anchoring a vast commercial and residential complex. The team is contractually obligated to play at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., until 2027. Without a new stadium, it can continue playing there indefinitely, as Snyder owns the land and the aging stadium, which opened in 1997.

“I think [a full sale of the Commanders] alleviates a lot of the question marks and clouds,” Virginia state senator Jeremy McPike (D-Prince William) said in an interview with WUSA9 last week, citing the pending investigations and “other noise” surrounding the organization. “Frankly, hopefully, they focus on winning the games like they did on [Sunday].”

In Maryland, state legislators in April authorized $400 million in bonds to develop Metro’s Blue Line corridor that includes FedEx Field and the site of a potential new stadium. Repeated failed efforts to secure a new stadium have frustrated outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who last month told reporters, “We’ve been trying to work with them for eight years.”

“We continue to believe that Largo is the best suited location for the Washington Commanders,” Alsobrooks’ statement read. “A new Commanders stadium would be in the heart of downtown Largo and our Blue Line Corridor.”

The 190-acre RFK site is owned by the federal government via the National Park Service. Norton has introduced legislation that would enable District officials to buy the land and, in turn, decide what to do with it. Norton’s position is that if D.C. wants its NFL team to return and buys the land, it would be free to negotiate a deal to do just that.

Evans, who started working on plans for a new NFL stadium at RFK just a few years after former owner Jack Kent Cooke abandoned the site for Prince George’s County in 1997, argues that the District is by far the best location not only for fans, given its easy access and storied tradition, but also for the league.

Snyder, 57, who bought Washington’s NFL team with two former business partners for $800 million in 1999, has not said what precipitated his sudden interest in soliciting a buyer, whether in part or in full, after battling for years in court, in the media, and via private investigators to tighten his grip on the franchise.

Snyder remains the focus of four investigations — by former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White on behalf of the NFL, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and the attorneys general in the District and Virginia. In addition, investigators for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia have interviewed witnesses regarding allegations of financial improprieties involving the team, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

Added to Snyder’s unretired debt on the stadium, that would appear to make borrowing further to finance a $2 billion stadium untenable. If Snyder could find an investor interested in buying a minority share in the team, that could provide the cash to build a stadium himself in Maryland with the state contributing public funds only toward infrastructure.

“He recently acquired a very significant portion of the team by 40% from his other partners and, at the same time, he’s entertaining the building of a new stadium. … It’s going to require huge economic resources,” Jones said. “This doesn’t surprise me that he’s in a time of real planning and thinking about how to manage the economic resources it takes that we want Washington to be.”

Snyder’s failure to show progress on delivering a new NFL stadium — with no site selected and no evidence of political or public support for helping him finance the project — does not sit well with several NFL owners who were once impressed by Snyder’s business acumen.

Within years of buying the team, Snyder expanded FedEx Field to seat nearly 92,000 and led the NFL in average attendance. After two decades of losing seasons that also have included front-office turmoil, roster churn and workplace controversy, the stadium has been downsized at least three times. Washington currently ranks last among the 32 NFL teams in game-day attendance, drawing just 58,720.

“A stadium is an engine for local revenue,” said former NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman, who was instrumental in helping numerous teams develop new stadiums from financing through construction during his 2004-2018 tenure as the league’s senior manager of business operations — including the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium and others.

Grubman, who left the NFL in 2018 and now works with the publicly traded gaming company Supergroup and DroneUp, declined to comment on any aspect of a potential Commanders sale but addressed why new and newly refurbished stadiums are so important to the league.

All NFL owners share equally in the league’s multibillion-dollar national broadcast deals, which account for the bulk of their revenue. What makes one team worth more than another, in large part, is the additional local revenue that NFL owners generate via luxury-suite sales, stadium naming rights deals, corporate sponsorships, personal-seat licenses and other stadium-related revenue.

New stadiums increase a franchise’s value, in turn. In the case of the Commanders, a potential buyer might push for a discounted price because FedEx Field is aging and underperforming financially. Conversely, the team’s value would increase considerably with the assurance of a stadium deal in a prime location under favorable terms.

SoFi Stadium, also the leased home of the Los Angeles Chargers, proved a boon for the NFL as well in setting revenue records as host of last season’s Super Bowl. It will also host matches during the 2026 FIFA World Cup — an opportunity denied Washington because of the shortcomings of FedEx Field.

“When you have a declining or decrepit stadium, it affects the enthusiasm of people coming to visit,” Grubman said. “If things are shabby or there are leaks, it’s not a premium experience. Or for players, if the visiting locker room doesn’t look anywhere near like what it looks like at other stadiums — these things all have an effect on branding, marketing and morale.

“A stadium is also a monument that can be a magnetic attraction for a city or a region to bring people in. You build a beautiful stadium, and it’s going to be marketed to the entire planet by NFL TV. A city doesn’t have to do anything for people to know it’s there: Hundreds of millions of eyeballs and ears will see and hear it courtesy of television.”

This content was originally published here.

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