News & Politics

Did Eagles Fans Cost Philadelphia a Shot at HQ2?

A new book says the city's football team was a turnoff for Amazon execs.

Philadelphia’s bid for Amazon’s HQ2 was fatally wounded by the presence of its football team, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

At the June 2018 meeting where Philadelphia was recommended for the office complex — alongside Chicago and Raleigh, N.C. — [Amazon Web Services CEO Andy] Jassy “opined that he disliked the city, which was the bitter rival of his favorite football team, the New York Giants.”

Jassy appeared to be joking, Jacob Adelman reports in an article based on Brad Stone’s book Amazon Unbound, but the Eagles, and by extension, their, uh, famously spirited fans, didn’t help matters, he writes:  Jassy “quipped that he and his employees would never want to live in Philadelphia.” The large city north of DC came closer to landing HQ2 than was previously thought—it was among the 20 finalists considered before Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City, Queens, got the nods in 2018 (Amazon would later scuttle plans for the Queens location). But Philly was judged “not viable” because Amazon considered it to be “still recovering from economic hardships” and “not a hotbed of engineering talent,” Adelman reports.

Jassy, who is a minority owner in the Seattle Kraken NHL team, will be Amazon’s next CEO after Jeff Bezos steps down sometime in 2021. Should Jassy decide to take in a Washington Nationals game while in this region, he may want to skip a Phillies night—Washingtonian recently attended a game where, as the Nats blew their lead, several neighboring fans who rooted for the visitors chanted “E-A-G-L-E-S” incessantly.

While the economic benefits of HQ2’s Arlington location will likely osmose into the entire Washington area, the company does not yet have free reign around the nation’s capital: As Washington Business Journal  reported last week, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has judged Amazon’s “Helix” building to be 13 feet too high to comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules. (“Our proposed design for Pen Place is now in its review phase, and we look forward to continue working with the FAA on our application,” an Amazon spokesperson tells Washingtonian.)

Despite nearly cracking the Top 70 on US News & World Report’s 2017 list of “Best Places to Live,” Philadelphia has since tumbled to No. 118, a little worse than Baltimore but at least better than Chicago. (The Washington region has fallen, too, from No. 4 in 2017 to No. 30.)

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.