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And then the fire alarm went off. By Benjamin Freed
Celebratory T-shirts. Photographs by Benjamin Freed.

Alexandria Public Schools teacher Ryan Suto was lucky today's schedule only featured administrative meetings. Suto, who teaches English as a Second Language, ducked out of work at 1:30 so he could get to Penn Social and raise a glass to the DC Council's vote approving the use of city funds to assemble the land for a new stadium for his beloved DC United soccer team.

"Luckily, since there were no classes today, it was okay," he said, wearing one of the freshly minted T-shirts United was giving out at the door.

Nearly an hour after the Council voted unanimously to spend up to $150 million on the nine-acre site on Buzzard Point in Southwest, United players and front-office staff walked into the Penn Quarter bar, trailed by their most fervent supporters, in celebration of a public-private partnership designed to produce the most expensive stadium in Major League Soccer history. The 20,000-seat venue, which could open in time for the 2017 season, is being touted by DC's politicos as a signature achievement in economic development.

"Vamos!" said Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, whose push to remove a land swap with the development firm Akridge for the Frank D. Reeves Center at valuable 14th and U streets, Northwest, actually complicated the stadium deal in its final steps.

"This is a great day for the District of Columbia," said Council member Jack Evans, a longtime proponent of stadium development deals.

But a repeat of the apartments, condominiums, offices, shops, and restaurants that swept through Navy Yard after the construction of Nationals Park isn't guaranteed. A $200,000 study published last month on the stadium's cost and potential benefits stated that "Buzzard Point is highly unlikely to repeat the rapid large-scale development boom."

Still, United's most die-hard fanatics are offering to jump-start the investment. Back in June 2013, when DC officials and the team first announced the stadium plan, Donald Wine suggested that he would move to Southwest DC so he could live just blocks from soccer.

"That's the idea, now it's a reality," said Wine, an attorney and a member of the Screaming Eagles, a fan club that gets rowdy in the stands at RFK Stadium, the crumbling, 53-year-old American football coliseum in which United has been stuck since entering MLS in 1996.

The party moved outside briefly.

As for Wine's fellow superfans who skipped work today, they feel their team is closer to equal footing with Washington's franchises in more popular American sports leagues.

"We're like the Green Bay Packers of MLS," said Jayme Thysell, a government contractor who moonlights as the drummer for the Screaming Eagles and other supporter groups.

Okay, but the Packers are operated as a nonprofit public trust in a small city in Wisconsin. United is in a major East Coast city and is owned by Erick Thohir, an Indonesian media billionaire with holdings around the world.

"I'm talking about earning trophies and tradition," Thysell clarified. "DC United fans, we act more like a small-market team."

He might be on to something there. While many players from the Nationals, Wizards, or Washington's NFL team might be easily recognized around town, soccer players can slip in and out of a crowd without much notice (I didn't realize till well after the event that the short blond guy with whom I exchanged brief pleasantries by a buffet table was actually forward Chris Rolfe, who scored six goals in 21 games during United's 2014 season). Thysell did have one idea to build United's profile around Washington, though it's unlikely the team would go in for it.

"What this team needs is a bad boy or a diva," he said. "I don't want a Ray Rice, but we need that bad boy to get in the news so the team gets in the news."

There might have been a malcontent somewhere in the building. The fire alarm went off about 3 PM, forcing the team's players and hangers-on to evacuate the basement bar and head back into the daylight. The all-clear sounded ten minutes later.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 04:09 PM/ET, 12/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The only thing sadder than Washington's football team is how miserable it's made local sportswriters. By Benjamin Freed
How it probably feels to be covering Washington's NFL team right now. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Another week in the NFL schedule down, another reminder that Washington's professional football team barely qualifies to be called one. While the season's not over yet, the team's professional chroniclers gave up hope long ago. Every Washington defeat brings a fresh set of downer reviews from the Washington Post's roster of sports columnists, and as you'll see from below, the malaise has only grown.

Washington's passers are being written off in print as quickly as they're being carted off the field, special teams are a dismissed as a gallery of dangerous buffoons, and reactions to yet another miserable squad under the Dan Snyder era have transformed from worry and anger to desperation and hoplessness. It's the pornography of Monday-morning quarterbacking—just how sad will it get? Read on for a timeline of how our terrible team has sapped the Post's writers of the will to even cover this pathetic franchise:

Week 1: Texas 17, Washington 6. One game in, Sally Jenkins smells a rat:

A 17-6 loss to the Houston Texans in the NFL’s Week 1 isn’t a season-definer, of course. But if this habit of making the shiny, happy best of lousy performances doesn’t stop, it will be. Hit rewind, and listen.

Week 2: Washington 41, Jaguars 10. Down goes RGIII! Mike Wise offers to help bury the corpse of the third-year quarterback's flailing career:

“You ever see a postgame locker room this happy after the face of the franchise and the number one free agent in the offseason went down?” I asked a longtime team employee.

“No,” he said, adding he’d rather not elaborate.

Week 3: Eagles 37, Washington 34. After a close loss, Dan Steinberg sees a dumpster fire in progress:

"Oh weird, a kickoff returned for a touchdown at a crucial moment. It’s actually not weird, you see, because Washington has regularly displayed stinking refuse fires on special teams about every other week for the past decade or so. There are so few disaster plays that Washington hasn’t explored on special teams."

Week 4: Giants 45, Washington 14. Wise writes off the first replacement quarterback:

The vehicle carrying the new and true believers of Kirk Cousins careened into a Prince George’s County embankment Thursday night, and the wreckage was total and complete: four good-night interceptions in nine second-half pass attempts.

Week 5: Seahawks 27, Washington 17. Steinberg forsees more doom, thanks to the special teams:

This week, the fake-field-goal-for-a-first-down narrowly sneaks past the messily failed onside kick, the ineffective pooch kick and the punt downed at their own 1. Tune in next week, when the Redskins’ special teams unit torches the team bench and releases stink bombs inside the locker room.

Week 6: Cardinals 30, Washington 20. Team sinks to 1-5; Wise is bored and sad:

"Personally, it really would be nice to write about a winning NFL team again. There’s only so much bad news you can be the bearer of before people start treating your stories like the team: If the destination is always the same, at some point you stop making the journey.

Week 7: Washington 19, Titans 17. Tom Boswell isn't swayed by a rare win:

"When losing franchises have comfort-food victories gifted to them, as the two-turnover, 11-penalty Titans helped Washington to this win, then a few days of healing for damaged confidence are in order. But this team’s knee-jerk flaw, season after season, is to use any good performance—or just a lucky win—to pound themselves on the back with self-congratulatory happy talk and please-the-owner boasts."

Week 8: Washington beat the Cowboys, and there was much rejoicing.

Week 9: Vikings 29, Washington 26. Griffin says "God has a plan." Wise sees no hope for salvation:

The Creator was unavailable for comment, but it’s clear in just scheduling the Vikings as a road game that the plan is either to inflict physical and psychological pain on the lads from Ashburn or to teach a severe lesson going forward: Preparing for an athletic contest is damn near impossible with this many distractions.

Week 11: Buccaneers 27, Washington 7. Jason Reid throws that ruinous question out there:

"As fans booed while exiting FedEx Field early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 27-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a question hung in the air: Are the Washington Redskins even worse than last season?"

Week 12: 49ers 17, Washington 13. Reid to Griffin: Get lost:

Before Griffin returned, Colt McCoy led the Redskins (3-8) to consecutive victories, including a road win against the NFC East-leading Cowboys. Now, the Redskins are reeling again and it’s easy to identify their biggest problem.

Week 13: Colts 49, Washington 27. Boswell joins Reid in trampling on Griffin's career's grave:

After McCoy’s third straight strong performance—in the other two, he was a key to victory—every Washington blunder or penalty won’t have to be seen through the distorting prism of “what did Griffin know and when did he know it?”

Week 14: Rams 24, Washington 0. Reid is out of explanations:

Even by their poor standards, the Redskins appeared inept while losing their fifth straight and being shut out for the first time since 2011. And in addition to the Redskins’ recurring on-field problems, the ongoing drama of their unstable quarterback situation continued to cast a shadow over the franchise.

Week 15: Giants 24, Washington 13. Boswell appears to have the bottom of the pit in sight:

Yet, in reality, this is the worst NFL product Washington has put on display in 50 years—losers of 19 of their past 22 games. And still in full “dive, dive” mode, heading for the depths.

Washington's final two disasters-in-waiting are home games against the playoff-contending Eagles and Cowboys. Barring a pair of shock victories, the Post will have to break new ground in coming up with depressing superlatives.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 10:26 AM/ET, 12/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The team is the first college basketball squad to join the protest about police conduct. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph courtesy Georgetown University.

Every member of the Georgetown men's basketball team wore a T-shirt reading "I can't breathe," during warm-ups before Wednesday night's game against Kansas, making the Hoyas the first college basketball team to join the on-court protests against the police killing of an unarmed black man in Staten Island, New York.

"I can't breathe" is the last statement made by Eric Garner, a 42-year-old who died July 17 after a New York police officer placed him in a chokehold. A coroner later determined he died due to neck compression and classified it as a homicide. Garner has been the subject of nationwide protests, including several in Washington, since last week when a grand jury declined to charge the police officer who subdued him.

The demonstrations spread to NBA courts last weekend when players including Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, and the entire Los Angeles Lakers roster started wearing warm-up shirts featuring reading "I can't breathe."

Georgetown coach John Thompson III said after last night's 75-70 loss to Kansas that he and his players had been talking about it for a while.

"The emotions and feelings in the locker room are all over the place," Thompson told ESPN. "Emotions [range] from fear, to frustration, to confusion, to anger. And the reasons why every individual wanted to wear it is all over the place too. Which is probably pretty consistent with the emotions across the country right now"

Posted at 08:35 AM/ET, 12/11/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The US Olympic Committee is expected to make its choice in the next two weeks. By Benjamin Freed
One of these cities will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee. Image via US Olympic Committee.

Consider yourself warned: The push to bring the Summer Olympics to Washington is kicking into high gear this week as organizers of the bid anticipate the United States Olympic Committee's decision for a 2024 bid city, pitting us against Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Officially, the USOC has said it does not plan to make its pick until early 2015, but members of the Washington bid's steering committee have told Washingtonian they expect a decision in the next two weeks.

Despite the Olympics' singular ability to turn even the most progressive city activists into outraged NIMBYs, the bid's boosters are promising Washington a ton of stuff besides two weeks of international sport. Improved transportation between Washington and Baltimore! Finally tearing down RFK Stadium and erecting an Olympic stadium in its place! (With a post-Games tenant waiting in the wings.) New housing from an Olympic village that would be built in Southeast DC!

Washington's bid for the 2024 Olympics is being modeled on the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, with the DC group seeing similarities between the investment of London's East End and the potential effects of building Olympic housing and venues east of the Anacostia River. One critical detail where the Washington vision diverges from the London experience is on cost: Local Olympic hopefuls say hosting the Games here will cost between $4 billion and $5 billion; London's expenses, including significant infrastructure improvements, eventually topped $14 billion.

"This is a catalytic event for Ward 7 and Ward 8," says Jim Dinegar, the chief executive of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and one of the bid's organizers. Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who's also the vice chairman of Washington 2024, even said "Washington, DC, needs the Olympics more than the Olympics need Washington, DC."

And don't think the Olympics would just be DC's burden. There are a lot of potential venues in the suburbs, including, perhaps, gymnastics at the University of Maryland, swimming in Arlington, equestrian sports in Fauquier County, and sailing in Annapolis.

So expect a lot of Olympic boosting over the next few weeks. Heck, the Washington 2024 group even made this new video featuring scads of local notables, national politicians, and ordinary residents endorsing the Olympic bid. The phrase "this town" is uttered no fewer than seven times. (Somebody should notify Mark Leibovich.) If you're pro-Olympics, you'll probably just join the #ThisTown gaggle unironically. But if you're against it, here's a list of folks you can blame in case Washington does get the bid:

  • Virginia Senator Tim Kaine
  • DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton
  • Virginia Senator Mark Warner
  • Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson
  • Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
  • Washington Wizards guard John Wall
  • Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal
  • Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean
  • Proof chef Haidar Karoum
  • DC Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser
  • Former Senator Bob Dole
  • Ben's Chil Bowl proprietor Nizam Ali

If we missed anyone, feel free to point out their names in the comments.

Remember, though, even if you're screaming against the Olympics, the upcoming decision only determines which US city will vie against other cities around the globe, with the International Olympic Committee awarding the 2024 Games in 2017.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Social media image by Flickr user yaokcool.

Posted at 10:22 AM/ET, 12/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Nationals outfielder was going 50 miles per hour above the posted limit. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

A Fairfax County judge has ordered Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth to spend ten days in jail after finding him guilty of reckless driving for going well above a posted speed limit.

Werth was pulled over the morning of July 6 on Route 193 in Fairfax County for going 105 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone, according to court records. He was in the Nationals' lineup later that day, going 0-for-3 with a walk in Washington's 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.

The 35-year-old ballplayer was charged in August with reckless driving, a misdemeanor that in Virginia can carry a sentence of up to 180 days behind bars when a motorist is going more than 20 miles per hour over the limit. (For a similar case, read Jalopnik writer Patrick George's account of spending a weekend in jail after being pulled over during a test drive in Rappahannock County.)

Werth plans to appeal the sentence.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 01:37 PM/ET, 12/05/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where the DC United stadium plan stands today, and what details need to be figured out next. By Benjamin Freed
Rendering courtesy of DC United.

The DC Council unanimously passed a bill Tuesday approving the assembly of land for and construction of a 20,000-seat stadium for the DC United soccer team, but not without making some major, potentially complicating changes to the plan initially laid out by Mayor Vince Gray when the stadium was first proposed 15 months ago. Under yesterday's bill, which still needs to go through one more vote later this month, the District government will acquire a nine-acre plot on Buzzard Point in Southwest from a collection of land owners, but it will no longer trade the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center at 14th and U streets, Northwest, to the development firm Akridge in exchange for two acres of proposed stadium land. The cancellation of the land swap means the city might have to find additional cash to buy out Akridge, potentially raising the stadium project's overall cost to taxpayers. But it appears after more than a year of bureaucratic grappling, DC United will finally get out of crusty, old RFK Stadium—as soon as a bunch of other questions are answered.

What happened with the Reeves Center?

Under the term sheet originally signed in July 2013 by Gray and DC United's owners, the city would get Akridge's land at Buzzard Point in exchange for the Reeves Center, which it could then redevelop in the heart of one of Washington's busiest neighborhoods, with the government agencies housed there eventually moving to a new municipal building in Southeast. But irked by the fact that the initial deal valued the Reeves Center $11.2 million below its assessed value, stadium skeptics on the Council, led by Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, moved to remove the trade. Now, the District has to come up with $62 million to buy Akridge's land at Buzzard Point.

Where is DC going to get the money?

Unclear. It's extremely unlikely the District would try to borrow the funds, as the city is already skating close to its debt cap. Some groups that have been doubtful of the stadium plan, like the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, worry that $62 million will be moved from other capital projects such as schools or a replacement for the dilapidated DC General homeless shelter. Additionally, Gray and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson are now fighting over finding the money, with Gray saying it was "unlawful" for Mendelson to reintroduce a supplemental budget request Gray submitted and then withdrew in June. Mendelson's not having any of the lame-duck mayor's complaints, though. "I don’t want this funded next year, I want this funded now," he said during a heated segment of yesterday's session.

Is eminent domain a possibility?

If the mayor's office and the Council can't find the money to pay Akridge, we could see a small-scale repeat of how the city obtained the land where Nationals Park sits today. If District officials can't negotiate a sale, they say they are prepared to use eminent domain as a last-ditch option. "We won't be delayed in getting to build a new stadium," Bowser said during the hearing.

What about the rest of the stadium land?

The deals for the other three parcels are still on, with the District buying plots from Mark Ein and Super Salvage, a local junkyard, and trading an urban farm at the Walker-Jones Education Campus at First and K streets, Northwest, to Pepco, which will turn it into a power transfer station. But an analysis commissioned by the Council last month found that the city is overpaying for these three parcels by $19.4 million.

What else is in this deal now?

Besides removing the Reeves Center from the stadium plan, the Council also took out a sales-tax abatement on concessions and merchandise sold at the stadium that would have cost the District an estimated $7 million, but United executives may try to add it back before the final vote. The team is still getting long-term property-tax breaks and will pay an annual rent of $1 for the first 40 seasons it plays there. But there are several community benefits, such as the promise of Circulator bus service to the stadium and an agreement by United that at least 51 percent of the jobs created by the stadium go to District residents.

Who are the big winners here?

The Washington Post couches the stadium plan's passage as a victory for the current mayor, but it's an even bigger one for the mayor-elect. While there was always a cluster of Council members against trading away the Reeves Center since the stadium was first proposed, the entire legislature followed Bowser's lead over the past few weeks. The DC United stadium might go down as a Vince Gray legacy project, but it'll be Bowser who oversees its actual creation. United is a victor, too. Despite the team's first-round exit from the Major League Soccer playoffs, the team's road out of RFK Stadium is as clear as ever, with the new stadium opening as early as 2017. Now it just has to pay for the construction of what that fiscal analysis projects will be the most expensive stadium in MLS history.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 10:33 AM/ET, 12/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Imagining if Redskins fans showed up at the first Thanksgiving. By Benjamin Freed

Staffers in the Condé Nast subscription department might want to be on the lookout next week for cancellation requests from Ashburn, Virginia thanks to the December 1 issue of the New Yorker, which features a bold, Thanksgiving-themed criticism of the Washington NFL franchise by cartoonist Bruce McCall. The image, though festooned with burgundy-and-gold regalia, takes a hard shot at team owner Dan Snyder's repeated intonations that the team's name connotes "honor and respect," even though the term is otherwise defined as a slur against Native Americans.

"It should have been quashed a long time ago," McCall says on the New Yorker's website. "We did everything to the Indians that we could, and it’s still going on. It seems crude and callous."

Football fans are conflicted about the term. A poll released yesterday found that while 72 percent of people do not think the team should change its name, four out of five would not call Native Americans "redskins" to their faces.

Posted at 04:14 PM/ET, 11/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Chalk it up to "fan blindness." By Benjamin Freed
Photograph by Flickr user Kevin Coles.

The latest poll about whether people think Washington's NFL team should change its name to something that isn't a dictionary-defined racial slur showed, once again, that a vast majority does not, even though most people would not use the word "redskin" in conversation with Native Americans.

The survey, conducted in August by business research firm ORC International, was sponsored by the Oneida Indian Nation, a New York tribe that has been leading a campaign against the Washington team's name, and goodness Mfg., the advertising agency that created the "Proud to Be" commercial that aired during the NBA Finals in June. While four out of five of the 1,020 people surveyed said they would not call a Native American a "redskin," 72 percent are comfortable with the football team of the same name. The survey attributes this split to "fan blindness."

"Fans are clinging to the mascot because of blind loyalty even though they feel that 'redskin' is an offensive term," the study reads.

The poll also found significant generational gaps surrounding the term's perceived offensiveness. Half of respondents between 18 and 34 years old said the word was offensive without being reminded that major dictionaries define it as a derogatory term, compared to 34 percent of people 35 and older. But reading a dictionary does not move public opinion about the NFL team that much; only 13 percent of respondents informed of the defintion of "redskin" changed their minds about whether the Washington franchise should get a new identity.

"Our study proves how important context is to behavior," D’nae Kingsley, goodness Mfg.'s head of integrated strategy, says in a press release. "On one hand, group mentality makes people think using the r-word is okay. But on the other hand, when a person comes face to face with a Native American, it’s not."

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 11:06 AM/ET, 11/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A new training venue might be a "terrific community resource," but it's not as necessary as the Wizards' owner says. By Benjamin Freed
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis watches Paul Pierce. Photograph by Flickr user Keith Allison.

Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis wasn't planning on publicly addressing his team's desire for a new practice facilty just yet, but after a series of "premature" reports, Leonsis writes on his website Monday that not only does the team need somewhere other than the Verizon Center to train, you'd be silly not to want it in your neighborhood.

The Wizards caused a bit of a stir November 7 when it was reported that the team was in conversation with District officials about building a taxpayer-funded practice facility in Shaw on the current site of a dog park, skate park, and urban farm. The proposed $30 million to $40 million facility would be paid for with an increase in sales taxes on Wizards tickets and Verizon Center concession sales. But city officials said the investment was worth it because it could induce players to move into the District during the NBA season.

Writing on his "Ted's Take" blog, Leonsis says that price tag—and a suggestion that the Wizards' practice facility will hold 5,000 spectators—is crazy talk, but he's certain any self-interested community will want to be home to a new training center for John Wall and company.

"Recently there has been a flurry of reports, articles, tweets and commentary about our plans to build a Wizards training facility," Leonsis writes. "Like many reports with unnamed sources and inappropriately leaked information, some of the data is good, some is only partially correct and others parts are simply false."

Leonsis goes on to write that his company, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, is scouting locations in the District, Maryland, and Virginia as potential sites. But while he's trying to tamp down the unbuilt facility's rumored seating capacity, it sounds like there will be some room for spectators. Besides Wizards practices, Monumental wants the site to house the WNBA's Washington Mystics and possibly a future NBA Developmental League squad.

But Leonsis has two bigger reasons why the Wizards need a practice spot separate from their arena: 18 other NBA teams have done it, and because it's worked out so well for the Washington Capitals' facility in Arlington.

"At this point I believe all of our Capitals players live in Virginia - we’ve even had players and coaches live close enough to walk to the training facility—and they along with our staff enjoy the Arlington area," Leonsis writes. "They eat, shop, ride Metro and take advantage of all the great opportunities in the vicinity of Kettler. And the local area has seen tremendous growth in recent years."

So would a new training facility, perhaps in Shaw, induce member of the Wizards' roster to give up their suburban manses for downtown living? Wall could put his expansive Potomac spread on the market, and Marcin Gortat could flip that $1.6 million Arlington condo he just bought. And there are several condominum projects throughout DC that wil be ready to receive occupancy in 2016, just in time for Kevin Durant's much-anticipated free agency.

The thing is, even if the Verizon Center seems dated next to other NBA teams' practice facilities, 17 years of training in DC hasn't affected where the Wizards' players live during the season. And even though Arlington's Ballston neighborhood has gotten some economic bounce since the Capitals opened their practice rink there in 2006, there's already plenty of development throughout the area—in Shaw and elsewhere—that's blossomed without a publicly financed basketball venue.

If anything, plopping down a training facility in the middle of any of these growing neighborhoods would push out established amenities. In the case of Shaw, users of the rumored spot at Rhode Island Avenue and 11th Street, Northwest, are already fearing the worst.

"It would be great if they were transparent and authentic," says Frank Asher, who operates the Old City Farm and Guild. "A billionaire can come in and take it all down and have someone else pay for it? That part’s ridiculous."

Leonsis writes that his desired practice facility—which would take between 18 months and two years to build—exists only as a set of "very rough renderings." But he says it will be a "terrific community resource."

The District is already suffering from a bit of unbuilt-sports-venue fatigue, though, with the plan for a DC United soccer stadium quaking under scrutiny of its projected costs to the city. Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, already skeptical about the United stadium deal, only became aware of the Wizards' proposal two weeks ago and is already cautious.

"She recognizes the Wizards have been an asset to the city in revitalizing downtown, but we have to make sure we’re protecting taxpayers in the process," says her spokesman, Joaquin McPeek. "At the end of the day we need to know taxpayers are protected."

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 01:04 PM/ET, 11/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Election Day can't come quickly enough. By Benjamin Freed

One of the more unpleasant things about Octobers in even-numbered years is the avalanche of campaign advertisements that fills up every television commercial break, and with a week to go, the din is as loud as possible. Now, the name of the Washington NFL club has been dragged into the heap, thanks to Ed Gillespie, the Republican nominee for a US Senate seat in Virginia.

Gillespie's campaign ran an ad on ESPN last night during the first half Washington-Dallas game. In the 30-second spot, Gillespie calls out his opponent, Senator Mark Warner, for not taking a stand on a Senate bill that aims to revoke the NFL's tax-exempt status if the league does not force Washington's team to change its name, a dictionary-defined racial slur against Native Americans.

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a bill to force the Redskins to change their name," a grim narrator says. "Mark Warner refused to answer if he supports the bill or not. Why won't he fight the anti-Redskins bill? Why won't he answer the question?"

Gillespie appears, eagerly saying he'll oppose the bill, which was introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat, in September at a flashy press conference, but hasn't received any other attention until, well, right now. But one of the reasons that Warner hasn't staked out a firm position on Cantwell's bill might be that he already made his feelings known in May when he declined to sign a letter from Reid and nearly every Senate Democrat to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the controversial team name. (Tim Kaine, Virginia's other Democratic senator, didn't sign it either.)

But the biggest sign this ad might have been a waste of time for Gillespie, who trails Warner by 11 percentage points in Real Clear Politics' average of the most recent polls, is that team owner Dan Snyder doesn't need a new friend in the Senate. He's already got one in Warner, to whom he and his wife, Tanya, both gave the maximum contribution of $5,200 last December, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Perhaps Gillespie can cut his final ads on whether Colt McCoy deserves another start following Washington's upset win over the Cowboys last night.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 09:27 AM/ET, 10/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()