RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Three politicians in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are teaming up across partisan lines to try and prevent their governments from waging a bidding war with public money to build a new stadium for the Washington Redskins.
The liberal Democrat in Maryland, conservative Republican in Virginia and left-leaning independent District of Columbia Council member have introduced legislation to set up an interstate compact barring any public spending on incentives for a new stadium.
The idea is to prevent the jurisdictions from competing against each other with lucrative offers of public assistance for the new facility. The team’s current lease at FedEx Field in suburban Maryland ends in 2027 and it is exploring new potential locations.
“By taking money off the table, it would be better for all three of us,” said Michael Webert, a conservative Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He said Virginia, Maryland, and the District could still compete with each other through other means, such as streamlined business regulations.
“By the way, I’m a diehard fan, I just don’t think we need to pay for their stadium,” he said.
Maryland Del. David Moon, a progressive Democrat and a former season ticket holder, said a similar interstate compact might not work with other businesses because they could just choose a different region altogether. But a franchise with the word “Washington” in its name and a strong local fan base has limited options, he said.
“It’s a lot more plausible to try this with a sports team,” Moon said.
He said the joint effort by lawmakers with different backgrounds and political views points to widespread opposition to spending public funds for a football stadium.
“That’s one of the fascinating aspects to this whole debate, this is not a partisan issue,” Moon said.
Joining them is District Council member David Grosso, a political independent who said last year that “a football team worth over $1 billion should not need to rely on special government assistance to fund their facilities.”
Team spokesman Tony Wyllie declined to comment.
Whether all three jurisdictions will approve a compact remains to be seen. Landing a new stadium deal could be an attractive political legacy item for a governor or mayor.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s spokesman Brian Coy said the governor wants to “structure a creative deal” to bring the team to Virginia, but opposes public subsidies. Coy was noncommittal on whether Northam supported the idea of an interstate compact.
Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe aggressively pursued a stadium deal. A Virginia stadium would most likely be built in Loudoun County, where the Redskins have their practice facility and a majority of players live.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan previously told The Washington Business Journal that he would do “whatever it takes” to keep the team. His office did not respond to requests for comment.
District Mayor Muriel Bowser has also said she doesn’t support using public money to bring the team back to the city, where it used to play before moving to Maryland.