Breaking News
More () »

Loudoun County waits in 'holding pattern' for new Commanders owners stadium plans

The RFK Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act already has rare, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

WASHINGTON — Legislation to clear the way for Washington, D.C. to redevelop RFK Stadium site in Southeast for long term uses, including a potential new stadium for the Washington Commanders, is scheduled to get its initial Congressional hearing next week.

A spokesperson for Kentucky Rep. James Comer, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, said the Committee plans to debate the legislation next week, although the exact details, including date and time, have yet to be ironed out.

A second hearing on the bill will happen Sept. 19 in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands.

Comer (R-KY) co-sponsored the RFK Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D- DC) in a rare show of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. The bill would extend D.C.’s lease with the federal government for the RFK site for up to 99 years and expand how the site can be used, allowing for a mixed-use development that could include a stadium.

In May, the Commanders told WUSA9 that they have a vision for the RFK site, although they are maintaining conversations with other jurisdictions as well.

“We are communicating with stakeholders at the federal and local level, sharing our vision for a potential venue that will create jobs and economic growth for the region and be compatible with the surrounding community and the elected leaders of the District,” a Commanders spokesperson wrote to WUSA9 in May.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also pledged the league's support in Congress to Mayor Muriel Bowser in a December phone call. But before D.C. can move forward on any major redevelopment plans at the RFK site, including a new stadium, Congress would have to green light the District’s long-term control of the land.

Virginia and Maryland have also expressed interest in partnering with the Commanders on a new stadium. And at a recent meeting of the Economic Club of Washington DC, new Commanders owner Josh Harris remained noncommittal on the team’s stadium plans.

“We’re looking. We’re very excited to be welcomed by all three jurisdictions and we’re looking forward to engaging in the process,” Harris said. “We actually hired...we have the beginnings of a real estate team to help with all this, someone who has built stadiums in the past.”

In August, the Commanders hired Thad Sheely as a consultant on the stadium search. Sheely most recently worked as chief operating officer of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, overseeing a $200,000 renovation of State Farm Arena. Sheely was also involved in the construction of Met Life Stadium in New Jersey.

Harris said his stadium search team is moving forward with development plans as soon as possible.

“Obviously we’re blessed to be welcomed by all three jurisdictions,” Harris told the Economic Club. “And so, we’re going to engage quickly, because we appreciate that the sooner we get started the sooner the team will have a new home.”

Meanwhile, Virginia, once a front runner for a future Washington Commanders stadium, now appears to have a less clear path.  

WUSA9 was first to report extensive proposals under previous owner Dan Snyder to build the new stadium on one of three sites in Northern Virginia, with two of the potential sites in Prince William County and a third near Dulles Airport in Loudoun County; Loudoun is currently home to the team’s practice facility.

But proposed sites in Dumfries and Woodbridge were largely panned due to I-95 traffic concerns, leaving Loudoun County as the only Northern Virginia location with publicly stated interest in a stadium discussion.

Now, a source with knowledge of the stadium discussions in Loudoun County tells WUSA9 they are in a “holding pattern” as the new ownership group evaluates potential sites outside of Virginia. The source added Loudoun had a “good understanding” of what Snyder wanted, but has had less contact with the Harris ownership group. The source noted Loudoun County’s continued interest in a stadium discussion, but added “without having an idea of what the new owners want, it’s hard to determine if the stadium project would align with the county’s vision of mixed-use development around Metro.”

A spokesperson for Loudoun County Chair Phyllis Randall declined comment for this report.

“At this moment, with nothing new outside of a study funded from the Virginia General Assembly, we don't have anything to add to the discussion,” wrote Chief of Staff Matt Rogers in an email to WUSA9.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a budget amendment approved by the Virginia General Assembly to spend $250,000 to “evaluate potential economic incentives to attract sports teams to the state.” Last year, lawmakers passed on a proposal to offer $300,000 in tax incentives if the Commanders built its new stadium in Northern Virginia, although opposition to the tax package was directly tied to an unwillingness to partner with Snyder, a road block that is no longer a factor.

But any discussion over a potential economic incentive package in Virginia would not happen until the state legislature reconvenes in January 2024.

Mayor Bowser has asked the District’s Department for Planning and Economic Development to conduct its own study on the economic impacts of professional sports franchises in D.C., including a potential return of the Commanders to the RFK site, in addition to potential losses should Monumental Sports owner Ted Leonsis decide to move the Wizards and Capitals to a Northern Virginia stadium if D.C. doesn’t pay for extensive upgrades to Capital One Arena.

Some on the DC Council, including Chair Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Charles Allen, remain opposed to a Commanders Stadium on the RFK land, which they contend should be used for affordable housing.

But in late April, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Chair of the Economic Development Committee, became the highest-ranking councilmember to publicly endorse Bowser’s plan to bring the team back to the RFK site.

Gov. Wes Moore has continually repeated his interest in keeping the Commanders, and the team's new stadium, in Prince George’s County.

“Maryland is excited to welcome this new leadership group and looks forward to working together on a vision for the next generation of Commanders football,” a Moore spokesperson said in a statement issued when the Harris Group was formally approved as owners in July. “For 25 years the Commanders have called Prince George's County home, and Governor Moore is committed to ensuring this long-standing partnership continues for the next generation.”

The statement noted the Moore-Miller Administration has already put forward major economic and transportation investments near FedEx Field along the Blue Line Corridor, which includes $400 million in state funding.

RELATED: Washington Commanders invests $40M on upgrades to FedExField

RELATED: Josh Harris talks about the pressures of being the new Commanders owner with WUSA9's Wisdom Martin

WUSA9 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.

Download the WUSA9 app to get breaking news, weather and important stories at your fingertips.

Before You Leave, Check This Out