The Washington Football Team took tangible steps toward building a new stadium in Virginia when owner Dan Snyder was among the contingent to meet with Virginia legislators in December and discuss funding proposals and potential sites.
Virginia State Sen. Jeremy McPike (D-29) attended the meeting and joined NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay and Brian Mitchell on their 106.7 The Fan radio show Friday to discuss the possibility of the team moving to the Commonwealth when its lease for FedEx Field in Landover, Md., expires after 2027.
“I was briefed and met with the Washington Football Team in December about plans of potential Virginia sites including Loudoun and Prince William,” Sen. McPike said. “When folks say we’re interested in potentially investing a billion-plus dollars in what you see in terms of new-age stadiums, which are a little smaller and they’re combined with retail and entertainment, it’s a much different model. It’s not sort of the big stadium and big parking lot anymore. When someone wants to look at Virginia and invest that kind of money, I think we should have a good discussion.”
Sen. McPike lauded Virginia’s “good relationship” with the team, which plans to reveal its new name Feb. 2, and spoke to his enthusiasm for a stadium that could be an entertainment destination outside of just Washington’s home games. However, the senator stopped short of saying Virginia would be willing to foot the bill.
“The discussions are serious and I think if we look at a model potentially that you have what’s called tax increment finance, in other words Virginia wouldn’t be paying for it,” Sen. McPike said. “Only the project itself with the taxes collected in that area for the stadium and the surrounding area, the taxes collected could help support infrastructure. And so that’s sort of the idea. I’m not interested in paying for a stadium out of my tax dollars.”
Newly inaugurated Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) addressed the state’s General Assembly on Monday for the first time since taking office. During his speech, he expressed support for shifting the priorities of Virginia’s longstanding Baseball Stadium Authority to focus on the potential relocation of a professional football team’s home stadium to the state. Sen. McPike expressed a desire to pass legislation on a stadium authority in the 2022 calendar year.
Virginia poses an intriguing candidate for Washington’s next stadium, particularly if the team adopts the destination venue idea. Maryland has yet to pass legislation legalizing commercial sports betting, something Virginia did in 2020. The law also paved the way for sportsbooks to be opened within stadiums and arenas, similar to what Capital One Arena did with William Hill.
However, Sen. McPike categorized the “No. 1 priority” for any site as the potential effects on traffic. The senator said any site would have to be “north of 50 acres” big to account for parking lots and adjacent businesses that would be built in conjunction with the stadium. He told Finlay and Mitchell that there are “specific sites being looked at” but didn’t go into detail on any precise locations.
“There’s been significant interest from Washington Football over the last two years,” Sen. McPike said. “So the discussions in coming to Virginia aren’t necessarily new, but it’s starting to materialize in terms of more defined concepts of what would be proposed and I think it’s worthy of discussion. I’m sure there’s going to be discussions with other areas, right?
“But I think the climate is good in Virginia. The fanbase is also frankly pushing south. The Ravens have taken market share, let’s call it what it is… there’s a lot of fans in Virginia and frankly south towards Richmond. I think that’s a growing market and I’m sure that’s part of Washington Football’s considerations as well.”