The Washington Commanders are returning to RFK.
There is no deal in place, but everything is lining up. A new owner nobody hates. Politicians salivating to be hailed heroes for returning the “Redskins” to their rightful home. A new bill on Capitol Hill providing a 99-year lease.
There’s no place like home, Toto.
Not some far-flung Virginia exurb requiring Elon Musk tunnels. Not across the parking lot in Raljon that everyone equates with death. Not shoe-horned into Poplar Point.
RFK is the ancestral home of all things Redskins. The name can change, but this franchise is emotionally rooted on the shore of the Anacostia River and that’s where it needs to return. No, must return.
The past can be the future for this team. Not in stadium design, of course. That was late owner Jack Kent Cooke’s big mistake. He replicated the past Giants Stadium instead of looking for the future. And, the future is once more a 60,000-seat stadium with enough Instagram designs and dome to attract the next generation of fans desperate to relive the tales of victory passed down by their parents and grandparents.
With Dan Snyder exiled to London, politicians are free to do business with the team. District Council member Vincent Gray waved to the Commanders via Twitter within hours of Josh Harris completing his purchase. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is coming around, say sources. Those two can carry enough water to make it rain money for this project.
Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky is introducing a bi-partisan bill extending the District’s lease of the 149-acre parcel up to 99 years. It allows commercial and residential development as well as a sports complex. Translation – everyone gets something. Everyone makes money, finds jobs, goes to games. It’s a win-win-win and win.
“The RFK site sits on underused federal land in D.C. that could be redeveloped, generating tax revenue for D.C.,” District Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton told the Washington Post. “Neither the Mayor nor the Council Chair opposes this bill, which would allow D.C. to put the site to productive use — a vast improvement on the current state of affairs.”
Of course, District Mayor Muriel Bowser is on board. It’s a legacy achievement that could even propel her to higher office. Bowser wants to turn downtown into a living city with 15,000 more residents, but also wants to revitalize the city’s eastern gateway where an aging stadium is being dismantled. Maybe a football stadium doesn’t quite resurrect the neighborhoods like Nationals Park revived the Navy Yard and Capital One Arena gave the Penn Quarter new life, but it will create a century-long celebration of the sweet life the area desperately craves.
Who’s paying for a multi-billion-dollar complex? The great part of Comer’s bill is allowing a developer to create commercial and residential complexes that can help fund everything. Of course, the city and federal governments will likely provide some infrastructure funding. And, Harris needs to look in his vault for any remaining gold after leading a $6.05 billion team purchase.
The blueprint for the Commanders return to RFK is right in front of everyone. Without the toxicity of Snyder, it will be done.
Follow Rick Snider on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks