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Virginia progresses plans for Washington Commanders stadium complex

The State of Virginia has pressed forward with efforts to attract the Washington Commanders NFL American football franchise to a proposed stadium complex valued at around $3bn (£2.21bn/€2.64bn).

The past two days have seen the Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Democrat-controlled Senate pass two similar, but separate bills, that would lead to the formation of an organisation to oversee the financing and construction of a stadium in Northern Virginia that would be the centrepiece of a substantial retail and entertainment complex.

The Washington Post newspaper said the bills will now go to the opposite chambers. If both pass, the General Assembly would create a conference committee to discuss which parts of each bill are included in the final version.

This bill would then be sent to Governor Glenn Youngkin, who last month backed plans to build a new NFL stadium in the state amid continued talk of a potential new home for the Commanders.

Washington currently plays at FedExField in Prince George’s County, Maryland but the team’s training base and headquarters are in Ashburn, Virginia.

The Commanders have a contract to play at FedExField (pictured) until September 2027 and the team has been exploring options for a new home, with Virginia and Washington having been linked as potential locations.

The Post said the franchise has been in talks with Virginia officials for months, adding it would target Loudoun or Prince William counties for a new home in the state. If the bill becomes law, the stadium authority would be authorised to sell bonds to help fund the facility, projected to cost around $1bn.

In a Senate hearing, Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw is said to have claimed the Commanders would need to invest around $2bn to complete the associated mixed-use project. The House bill proposed the bonds be paid back over 20 years, while the Senate put forward 30 years.

Talk of a new stadium for the Commanders comes amid an ongoing NFL probe into the franchise’s workplace under owner Daniel Snyder. Delegate Marcus B. Simon is said to have proposed an amendment to delay creating the stadium authority until the full findings of the investigation are released.

Simon stated that, while building an NFL stadium in Virginia would be a good financial opportunity, “you have to be diligent to know who it is you’re going into business with.” The amendment was not approved, but Simon said he hoped the investigation would be considered as the state moves forward with its plans.

He added: “If (the team) can clean up their act, if we can get to the root of what happened and know and (feel) comfortable that it’s been properly addressed, then sure, I’d love for Virginia to be the home of the stadium.”

Jason Wright, president of the Washington Commanders, this month insisted that the team will be playing in a new venue in 2027 amid continued speculation over the future home of the franchise.

It was announced on February 2 that the Washington Football Team would henceforth be known as the Washington Commanders. The team had been known as the Washington Redskins until July 2020, when it dropped the name due to its connotations of ethnic stereotyping.

Image: All-Pro Reels/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size