Is Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s Plan Z really building a new stadium next to FedEx Field?
Snyder met with Maryland legislators recently over gaining a sports betting license for a potential new stadium in 2027. It’s a telling moment when Snyder emerges from the shadows and meets with legislators because it signals deal-making time. Predecessor Jack Kent Cooke met with Annapolis lawmakers before cutting the Landover deal after snubbing Capitol Hill leaders over staying at RFK.
Maybe returning to RFK isn’t dead, but there’s not much of a pulse without the federal government transferring the land to the District so a long-term stadium lease can be provided. Throw in local resident opposition and no political champion and Snyder is looking to Maryland just like Cooke.
The coveted Oxon Cove site near the MGM Grand and Wilson Bridge is a no go thanks to federal ownership. There is no room in the District anymore and Virginia gave away its stadium option to Amazon for its headquarters. The thought of riding the metro to Loudoun County for games is even dumber. America is returning to its major cities, reversing the 1960s trend of suburban life.
That leaves staying in Landover rising from last resort to the only option. Still, the thought of staying at FedEx Field location for the rest of our lifetimes is, well – yucky.
Certainly, plenty of cities have built new stadiums next to old ones like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York and New England for starters. But “Raljon” – Cooke unsuccessfully tried to name it for his sons Ralph and John – has the stink of a generation of losing on it plus an IKEA-like stadium built for speed over comfort.
No matter – winning will lure fans. FedEx hasn’t been empty sans opposing fans for several years because of its location, but it’s lousy teams. When the Redskins will start winning again is a whole other argument.
Maryland legislators are now more aligned with Baltimore and the Ravens and less likely to provide substantial funding for a new stadium. The first deal was cut before the Ravens arrived. Now Annapolis has a new favorite team and knows Redskins ticket tax revenues aren’t nearly as much as once promised.
There is a compromise, though, to pay for the stadium without costing Snyder his $170 million yacht. Sports betting is coming to Maryland eventually. Operators will make a fortune just like the state’s casinos have done. So, give Snyder his betting license to help fund the stadium with the caveat he also can’t charge personal seat licenses, cap infrastructure costs and move the team’s daily facility to Maryland.
Snyder really isn’t asking for something the District’s not doing for its sports venues when gaming comes online this spring. The NFL certainly can’t oppose it given a new team in Las Vegas. It’s only reasonable a Redskins stadium gains its slice of the gold based on its product.
A new stadium is doable, but taxpayers should rightfully demand in exchange for the sports betting license no PSLs and reasonable ticket and parking prices so middle-class residents partially funding this stadium can still afford to attend games.
Otherwise, let Snyder build his castle in Loudoun County where the franchise will surely fail.
Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Redskins in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.