SportsD.C. takes step toward bringing Commanders football team home

D.C. takes step toward bringing Commanders football team home

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Could the District finally bring its football team home? In a rare display of bipartisan unity, Washington, D.C., has taken a significant step toward reclaiming the Commanders after the House passed the D.C. RFK Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act with an overwhelming 348-55 vote.

The legislation seeks to transform the long-neglected RFK Stadium into a vibrant mixed-use development, potentially featuring commercial and residential spaces and a new Commanders’ stadium.

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Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, supported the legislation, demonstrating an unexpected alliance between Comer, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D). Comer, previously focused on crime and policing issues, expressed the economic benefits of redeveloping RFK during floor debates, emphasizing the bill’s role in fulfilling Congress’s constitutional duty to oversee the District.

The legislation proposes transferring administrative control of the 174-acre riverfront parcel from the federal government to D.C. for 99 years, without rent costs. This move opens various development possibilities, including a football stadium, restaurants, shops, and housing. Norton and Comer termed the arrangement a “win-win” for D.C. and the National Park Service, relieving the latter of maintenance costs.

While the bill passed despite opposition from the Maryland delegation, such as Gov. Wes Moore and others who argue for a level playing field in the competition to retain the Commanders, it now faces the Senate. D.C.’s bid to bring the Commanders back hinges on the Senate’s approval of the RFK legislation, with no clear advocate identified. The bill’s passage would mark D.C.’s formal entry into the Commanders’ Stadium competition.

The decision ultimately rests with Commanders owner Josh Harris, who has talked with various jurisdictions, including D.C., Maryland and Virginia. However, the bill prohibits using federal funds for a stadium, leaving the possibility of local funds financing the project. The competition intensified, mainly after Virginia focused on a new basketball and hockey arena for the Washington Wizards and Capitals.

Despite the significant progress in the House, the road ahead remains long and uncertain. The bill’s journey through the Senate and the potential hurdle of the filibuster awaits, with 60 senators required for advancement. If it successfully navigates Congress and secures President Biden’s signature, Bowser will only need support from the D.C. Council and the local community for any potential stadium development.

Bowser said she envisions a vibrant mixed-use space with affordable housing, dining, park spaces, and recreational opportunities, emphasizing a departure from asphalt-dominated landscapes.  

“[The] vote was a significant step forward in our efforts to unlock the full potential of the RFK campus — for our residents and visitors, the community, and D.C.’s Comeback,” Bowser proclaimed.

Source: Washington Informer

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