By Eric Flack
WASHINGTON — Now that Washington's NFL team is officially the Washington Commanders, talk of a new stadium is heating up. Leaders in D.C. and Virginia were already making their case Thursday to be the team's new home.
At a press conference, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she wants the Commanders to build their new stadium at the site of the old RFK Stadium in Northeast.
"Every major sports franchise in the region calls D.C. home," the mayor tweeted Wednesday after the big reveal. "The next chapter for the Washington Commanders should be a return to winning right here in DC.”
The mayor expanded on her comments Thursday, saying though she opposes the District financing the stadium, she would support what the city did with DC United’s stadium, Audi Field. In that case, the city prepared the land that would be needed, which presumably would mean the city would fund everything that would go around the Commanders new stadium, including housing, parks and retail.
“We’re not saying we’re going to have exactly what’s there now, a stadium surrounded by asphalt,” Bowser said. “Because we need housing, we know we need housing in this city. We need fantastic parks and we need jobs for D.C. residents. There's over 100 acres there.”
Bowser indicated D.C. would pay not only for all the new development around the Commanders' stadium, but also getting the land ready, which would mean demolishing the old RFK stadium, something Bowser said is long overdue.
In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Younkin has also started banging the drum for the Commanders to build their new stadium in the Commonwealth.
At a community event Thursday, Youngkin said he has spoken with owner Danl Snyder to get a sense of what he would want out of a new stadium.
Youngkin has not closed the door on the state of Virginia helping to finance the team’s new home, and wants to turn the state's former baseball commission, which once tried to bring the Washington Nationals to Northern Virginia, into a group that would spearhead bringing the Commanders there.
“I do think we should expand the baseball commission to be a baseball and football stadium commission,” Youngkin said. “And of course, we will always represent Virginia taxpayers, but I think we sure would like to have a professional football team in Virginia.”
In January, Gov. Hogan weighed in telling reporters he also talked personally with the Commanders ownership and told them Maryland is very interested in keeping the team. But he added Maryland is in a holding pattern, waiting for the team to decide what it wants to do, but that the state will fight to keep the Commanders there.
The team doesn’t have very long to decide.
At the announcement of the Commanders new name, President Jason Wright said the franchise’s plan is to be in a new stadium in 2027, which is when their lease at FedEx Field runs out.