WASHINGTON - Now that the Washington Commanders' ownership has changed hands, a new, huge question emerges: Where will the team play their home games after their lease ends at FedEx Field? After years of wrangling, it appears D.C. is poised to be part of the conversation.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., and D.C. Democratic Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton co-introduced legislation that would give the District long-term control, 99 years, over the 190 acres at RFK Stadium. The bill was officially filed Thursday.
Right now, the district leases the land from the federal government and that lease ends in 2037.
When it comes to this question over an NFL stadium coming to D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said long-term control of the land is priority number one and the introduction of this legislation marks a meaningful step in that process.
A new team has also been formed within the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development to act as a liaison to sports teams and recruit new teams.
Bowser spoke bluntly about wanting the Commanders to move to the nation’s capital at a media event Wednesday morning.
"I have talked to the new group of owners, Josh Harris, Mitch Rales, Mark Ein and they have another group. They visited with me at City Hall yesterday. I talked to them immediately, Josh called me immediately after the sale was complete last week and, you know, this is what I say and I’ve always said it: There’s really only one place for the team in this region. I know, I’ve been a little coy but…there’s only one choice," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
Early on, there appears to be broad support for the legislation, which would give the District control over these 190 acres for mixed-use opportunities.
Next, the legislation has to pass, then it becomes a D.C. Council decision on what to do with this land.
Early on, Council Chair Phil Mendelson says he doesn’t want public funds for a stadium. Bowser says she looks forward to productive conversations.
FOX 5 spoke with a man who lives near the RFK and says he wants to see new life here to include a stadium.
"My personal opinion, I don’t think they should have ever left. You know, RFK is right there, the mayor wants them here, I believe all the fans want them here. Why not bring them back? I would love to have them back," Tony Bennett said. "I feel like it would be very beneficial—especially on the financial tip. People need jobs. You know, economics, you know, growth for the city."
This legislation gives the District at least a seat at the table for when the Commanders make this decision. Without it, D.C. really isn’t in the running.
FOX 5 will be following its progress through Congress and will keep you updated.