Maryland’s $400m Commanders plan excludes stadium investment

The State of Maryland has put forward a $400m (£305.5m/€365.9m) funding package for a sports entertainment facility and wider infrastructure projects in the area surrounding FedExField, but will not commit public funds to a new stadium for NFL American football franchise the Washington Commanders.

The news marks the latest development in the three-way tussle between Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia to be the future base for the Commanders. The Commanders have a contract to play at FedExField (pictured), which is located in Prince George’s County, Maryland, until 2027. The team has been exploring options for a new home, with Virginia – the site of its training base and headquarters – and the District of Columbia having been linked as potential locations.

Maryland’s first public bid to retain the Commanders, approved by a legislative committee, would use the Maryland Stadium Authority to channel revenue from the state lottery to Prince George’s County, which could use the $400m to build infrastructure and a sports entertainment facility on land surrounding the franchise’s current home, according to the Washington Post.

Maryland could use the money even if the Commanders move to Virginia or back to D.C. “It’ll be great for Prince George’s with or without the Commanders,” said Delegate Ben Barnes, who helped forge the deal. “We hope it encourages them to stay, but if it doesn’t, we’re not going to forget about these communities.”

The Commanders and governments are said to be exploring developing a mini-city around a new stadium, featuring homes, restaurants, retail, office space and public amenities. Maryland’s proposal is said to include a bikeway, an elevated pedestrian bridge and a field house with basketball and volleyball courts. A new stadium would be relocated within a 15-minute walk of the Metro system.

The courting of the Commanders has been complicated by the scandal surrounding the franchise and its owner, Daniel Snyder. It recently emerged that a congressional committee is investigating allegations of financial wrongdoing at the franchise, while there have also been probes into allegations of workplace impropriety lodged against the regime led by Snyder.

In February, Virginia pressed forward with efforts to attract the Commanders to a proposed stadium complex valued at around $3bn, with three sites said to have been identified. The Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Democrat-controlled Senate passed 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 House and Senate were unable to resolve differences in their rival stadium bills before the General Assembly adjourned last month, but the measures were carried over into a special session that commenced on Monday.

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

Image: Anders Krøgh Jørgensen on Unsplash