Design & Development

D.C. steps up push for Commanders stadium

Featured image credit: Anders Krøgh Jørgensen on Unsplash

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) in Washington, D.C. has released a report outlining the current and potential impact of professional sports in the District as it explores the possibility of building a new stadium for the NFL’s Washington Commanders.

The report found that hosting an NFL franchise represents a “once-in-a-generation placemaking opportunity” that would annually produce an estimated $1.26bn (£993m/€1.18bn) in economic revenue, 2095 jobs, €289.8m in labour income, and $26m in tax revenue.

The Commanders currently play at Commanders Field (pictured, formerly FedExField), which is located in Maryland. The team has a deal in play to remain at the stadium until September 2027 and it has been linked with a move to a new location in Maryland or Virginia.

In July last year, it was reported that James Comer, the chairman of the influential congressional committee that oversees D.C., was preparing to introduce legislation that could enable the District to build a new stadium for the Commanders.

Prior to FedExField opening in 1997, the Commanders played in D.C. at RFK Stadium. A recent poll found that 76% of D.C. residents want the next Commanders stadium to return to the District.

The District has now stepped up its efforts to attract the team, with the DMPED report outlining the fiscal, economic and community impacts of sports in D.C., as well as analysing the economic impact of sports and entertainment venues in the District to date.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said: “D.C. is the sports capital. We know how important sports are to our city’s economy and culture. They create jobs, generate tax revenue, and spur economic development.

“But sports also create a lot of pride in our city, they bring people together, and we look forward to continuing to support our teams in ways that benefit our city and residents and help knock D.C.’s comeback out of the park.”

D.C already has three major-league venues in the shape of Capital One Arena, which serves as the home of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals; Nationals Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals; and Audi Field, home of Major League Soccer team D.C. United.

In March, D.C. reached an agreement with Capital One Arena owner Monumental Sports & Entertainment to carry out major renovation work at the venue after plans were dropped for an entertainment district in Virginia that would have housed a new arena for the Wizards and Capitals.

The report released by DMED has found that major sports generated $5bn for the District in 2022 and attracted 7.4 million visitors in 2023, with 88% being non-District residents.

According to the study, D.C.’s major sports teams and facilities have “catalysed” neighbourhood prosperity, with commercial real estate development near the District’s sports facilities outpacing District-wide developments in the years following each facility’s opening.

The report also found that ‘anchor’ sports facilities generate greater localised benefits than so-called ‘islands’ as they are well-integrated into urban environments.

Last year, Mayor Bowser created the DMPED Sports Team to work closely with the District’s professional teams and coordinate across District agencies to maintain, attract and grow sports teams and events in D.C.