It’s not news that Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans desperately wants the Redskins back from Landover, Maryland. In 2010, he proposed tearing down RFK Stadium and building a 110,000-seat replacement. Last year, he and the Mayor went to Tampa to check out a training facility, which could be built near RFK if the whole stadium was too big to handle.
But Evans hasn’t let go of his dream of having the Skins play in D.C. again. In fact, he sees it as an inevitability. “It’s not a matter of ‘if’ they come back, it’s a matter of ‘when,'” he told a gathering of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association last night, saying the conversations with the team were “ongoing.”
Evans knows that having the city finance a new stadium would be unpalatable, after the battle to build a ballpark for the Nationals, and slower-than-expected real estate response around it. Still, he said, the Redskins are much more loved than the District’s baseball team. “Everyone loves the Redskins,” he said. “There is a sense across the city that they should be playing in the city.”
But there’s hope! Evans said. The National Football League has a fund for helping teams build new stadia, with loans that are paid off through revenue sharing on the team’s club seats. The fund dried up in 2007, but was recently replenished under a new collective bargaining agreement, with loans capped at $200 million and contingent on how much the team’s owner is willing to contribute (before, money went to larger markets, like New Jersey’s Meadowlands stadium). Just last week, the league announced its first loan under the new regime: $200 million to the San Francisco 49ers. So that’s what Evans is banking on to bring the Skins back to D.C.
Unfortunately—-or not, if you think there are better uses for large tracts of D.C.’s land than football stadia—-it’s probably not in the cards. “They’ve got a stadium in the market that people view as a perfectly adequate stadium,” says Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College economics professor who studies professional sports. “It’s not gonna happen.”
Ah well. Barring some other multi-million-dollar cash infusion, looks like those of us who care about football will have to keep trekking out to FedEx.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery