Washington Commanders study on Virginia venue


New Washington Commanders stadium economic impact Image: BIG

The National Football League (NFL) team Washington Commanders have conducted an economic impact analysis on the possibility of bringing a new stadium complex and surrounding development to Virginia (US), as the project continues to await legislative action by the General Assembly.

The ‘Culpeper Star Exponent’ stated that according to the study, which was prepared by the JLL Sports and Entertainment, the direct economic impact of the stadium would be $24.7 billion in Virginia, and the project would support 2,246 jobs by 2033.

The Washington Commanders are a professional American football team based in the Washington metropolitan area. The Commanders compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference East division.

The 82,000-capacity FedExField is an American football stadium located near the Capital Beltway in Prince George’s County, Maryland, five miles East of Washington, D.C. The stadium is the home of the Washington Commanders of the National Football League (NFL). From 2004 until 2010, it had the largest seating capacity in the NFL at over 91,000.

The ‘Culpeper Star Exponent’ further stated that the team has previously described State support as a prerequisite for launching the project.

One of the top concerns from lawmakers about a proposed site in Woodbridge (Virginia) would be adding to an already-untenable traffic situation on I-95 near Woodbridge.

In a discussion held recently, a team official involved in the project said the proposed complex has the potential to transform traffic woes in the area by providing tax revenues that would assist in new road and transit projects.

The study estimates $3.04 billion in tax revenue generated over the projected 30-year life of the stadium and its surrounding development.

Economic impact studies have routinely been criticized by opponents for presenting lofty ideals of proposed projects, and failing to account that not all spending inside the new development will be new spending, that some of it would have been spent anyway at other nearby businesses.

JLL also helped with The Battery project in the Atlanta area, a mixed-use development which the Commanders’ plans are inspired by.

The Battery Atlanta is a mixed-use development located in the Atlanta metropolitan area, approximately 10 miles (16 km) northwest of downtown Atlanta in the unincorporated community of Cumberland, in Cobb County, Georgia (US). It is adjacent to the 41,084-capacity Truist Park (originally SunTrust Park), home of the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Atlanta Braves.

A recent study found the Braves’ project was falling short of projections by nearly $15 million a year, though the team noted that attendance was negatively impacted by the pandemic.

In Virginia, an early version of the stadium bill easily cleared the Senate earlier this year, but since then three lawmakers, all Democrats, have withdrawn their support, citing concerns about doing business with Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder while he remains under Congressional investigation.

Snyder is the only member of the team’s executive staff that remains from the period of time in question, and at a recent House roundtable, he was accused of sexual harassment.

The initial Senate vote went for the stadium by a 32-8 margin, so the team has wiggle room as it navigates the negotiating process.

Recently, the Governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin’s Press Secretary, Macaulay Porter, said the Governor continues to support legislators authorizing discussions to begin with the team.

Wrote Porter, “In any discussions regarding the possibility of a new stadium in Virginia, the Governor will always put the best interests of Virginia taxpayers first.”

As the NFL goes on a stadium-building binge, one unmistakable trend is the move towards smaller facilities.

The Buffalo Bills new stadium will have an estimated 60,000 seats, which will make it the smallest capacity in the NFL.

However, Washington’s proposal is for a 55,000-seat stadium.

A person with knowledge of the project’s development said the goal isn’t to attract the largest events on a sporadic basis, but to create a strong environment for the team every Sunday at home games.

Washington Commanders President Jason Wright echoed that thinking – “We are much more likely to build the smallest venue in the NFL than the largest.”

At its peak, the 45,596-capacity RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., (US) held 56,692 fans for football games.

The team is also considering other sites for the project – Maryland’s State Government has authorized a $400 million subsidy for development on the current FedEx Field site, but would retain control of that spending and would not authorize it to be used on the stadium itself.

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