Dan Snyder has a new distraction for fans of his NFL team: he’s already working on the franchise’s next venue after it leaves FedEx Field in Landover.
In an interview with Comcast SportsNet (one of the team’s official media partners) released Wednesday night, Snyder says that the team is consulting with architects and considering locations about where it could play next.
“Whether it’s Washington, DC, whether it’s another stadium in Maryland, whether it’s Virginia, we’ve started the process,” Snyder says.
Snyder’s declaration is likely to give officials in those three jurisdictions dreams of stadium-related revenue rolling through their heads, but DC and Maryland are likely to make an issue over the team’s name. The DC Council voted overwhelmingly last November to brand the team’s name, a dictionary-defined slur against Native Americans, as “racist and derogatory,” and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said recently the team should change its name. (Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who’s favored to win this year’s gubernatorial election, spoke out against the team’s name in February.) If the name still is a deal-breaker for Snyder by the time he’s ready to start construction, that could give a leg-up to Virginia, where Governor Terry McAuliffe always avoids taking a position on the matter.
The bigger issue at play, though, is that Snyder is trying to ditch a professional sports stadium that’s only 17 years old, and one that his team is under contract to play at for another 13 seasons. Even if FedEx field is bland and boring, Maryland taxpayers who put up $70.5 million to cover 28 percent of the $250 million construction cost might not appreciate the team bailing early. And there’s almost no chance Snyder would build the next stadium entirely out of his own pocket. Of the 19 NFL stadiums built since FedEx opened in 1997, only one—the New York Giants’ and Jets’ MetLife Stadium—was built entirely with team money.
But in the interview that aired Wednesday, Snyder, who bought the team in 1999, seems intent on dumping FedEx Field as soon as he can.
“I’d like to see it sooner than later, but we love FedEx Field,” he says. “It’s a great place to feature our home games, but it’s 17 years old now. I think it’s time for us to start looking and we’re doing it.”
What Snyder says he’d really like is a stadium that combines the raucousness of RFK Stadium with hopefully more modern amenities than what the 53-year-old coliseum currently offers DC United fans.
“I said that I think the lower bowl sections are going to want to rock the stadium like the old days,” referring to the sections of RFK that bounce around like a rickety carnival ride even at sparsely attended DC United soccer games. Hopefully Snyder (or whoever winds up paying for a new stadium) will invest in upgraded struts and hydraulics.
But wait. There’s more to Snyder’s flight of fancy. Not only does he want a new stadium, he wants to host a Super Bowl, too.
“I think this region, not only this town, this region deserves a Super Bowl,” he says in the interview. “It’s the biggest sporting event in the globe. It’s the nation’s capital, it’s a no-brainer.”