RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia General Assembly cancels for the year legislation intended to lure the Washington Commanders to the state, a senior lawmaker said Thursday.
Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said in a brief interview that there were too many issues to resolve and controversies surrounding the NFL team for the legislation to proceed. It could be reinstated next year, said Saslaw, who has campaigned for the stadium and sponsored a version of the legislation.
The team said in a statement that it supports lawmakers’ decision to “dig deeper into this issue.”
“We look forward to continued engagement and open dialogue with stakeholders across the Commonwealth to share our vision and hear directly from communities about their economic development goals and how we can be a trusted, reliable partner to achieve those outcomes to be realised,” the statement said.
The team claimed that the new venue project would be a “remarkable economic development opportunity”.
The news came a day after an assistant coach for the team issued an apology after initially doubling down on a comparison he made on social media between the violent attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 and the protests following the police killing of George Floyd.
Comments from Jack Del Rio, a former linebacker who now leads Washington’s defense, sparked a quick backlash. Several key Northern Virginia lawmakers who previously supported the measure have said publicly that they no longer support the deal.
Legislation that would have offered the team lucrative tax incentives to fund the stadium cleared both chambers this year, attracting a usual bipartisan mix of supporters. But other defectors had expressed concerns prior to Del Rio’s comments and worried about the sequel investigations into the team of attorneys general and Congress, and transportation concerns.
“You’ve got the Attorney General’s thing, you’ve got all the congressional stuff, other questions that need to be answered. We decided it’s just going to stay in the conference,” Saslaw said, meaning the measure won’t get another vote.
The team has been exploring new stadium opportunities for several years, and both Virginia and the District of Columbia have been interested in luring the team away from its current home of FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
But the District of Columbia also appears to be off the table for the time being after a city council majority ruled out using the old RFK Stadium site as a home for the commanders. Councilor Charles Allen said the DC government will “clearly” not support the use of that land for a new soccer stadium, which would rule out a popular choice for owner Dan Snyder and the organization.
DC City Council chairman Phil Mendelson, who was not one of seven members who sent a letter to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton ruling out the RFK site for a new stadium, said it was not a final decision. But Mendelson told the AP Thursday that the majority of members opposed to using that land for a stadium are not considering it for now.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan and lawmakers support development of the area around FedEx Field, but have not supported payment for a new Maryland stadium. hogan signed a measure in April, this would provide up to $400 million in bonds for development around the stadium in the state capital’s suburbs, whether the team stays there or not.
A district plan envisages developing the area into a transportation hub with new residential, retail and entertainment opportunities. The law authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to use state lottery funds to build infrastructure in the county. Funding for the development will be available even if the commanders leave the state when their lease at Landover expires in 2027.
The legislation says the resulting development could include a convention center, an arts and entertainment amphitheater, and “any other functionally related structure,” including parking garages.
Associated Press contributors Stephen Whyno and Brian Witte contributed to this report.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.
https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/09/virginia-general-assembly-tabling-commanders-stadium-bill/ The Virginia General Assembly repeals the Commanders’ Stadium Act