Dan Snyder wants a new stadium, and it's the perfect storm of one of sports' most odious owners taking his turn at one of sports' biggest scams.
Look at this damned quote from Snyder's interview with CSN Washington yesterday, in which he announced the team is "in the process of developing" plans for a new stadium:
"I'd like to see it sooner than later, but we love FedEx Field," he said. "It's a great place to feature our home games, but it's 17 years old now. I think it's time for us to start looking and we're doing it.
"But it's 17 years old now," said the man who believes that's a legitimate argument for a stadium being obsolete. (Actually, Snyder was privately agitating for a new stadium way back in 2007.)
Seventeen years seems to be the new magic number in the stadium racket. The Panthers sought nearly $200 million in public money for a renovation of 17-year-old Bank of America Stadium—and received about half. The Falcons began agitating for a new stadium in 2009 to replace the then-17-year-old Georgia Dome—they received a minimum of $200 million in public funding.
Dan Snyder will be seeking public funding and subsidies for his new, unnecessary stadium, and he will probably get it, because Washington is geographically perfect for playing potential host sites against each other. You will see counties, states, and the District competing against each other to see who can offer the most taxpayer cash. Snyder knows this. Yesterday, he may well have simply said "the bidding's open."
"Whether it's Washington, D.C., whether it's another stadium in Maryland, whether it's a stadium in Virginia, we've started the process," Snyder said.
The annoying part is, it's hard to blame fans for being excited about the possibility of a new stadium. You can already see people creaming themselves over the idea of not having to slog out to FedEx Field, which has probably the worst parking situation of any NFL Stadium. There's already an unsourced report that Snyder is considering a domed stadium on the site of RFK, possibly stemming from his comments that he wants a retro look that's "gonna feel like RFK." (RFK is still there, if he really wants retro.)
But it's hard to see D.C. welcoming back the team with open arms and open checkbooks, especially since half the senate and a majority of the city council have come out against the team name. But maybe that's all part of Snyder's plan. Maybe he knows the name has to change eventually, but he's going to make sure he gets a huge, expensive new stadium out of it.
This exact theory was espoused by former Washington GM Vinny Cerrato last month:
"I said this when this first started a year ago or whatever, I said the only way I see him eventually changing the name is if — IF — he gets a new stadium out of it, downtown, where old RFK was. And he builds a stadium bigger than [Jerry Jones's], which he would do, bigger and better than Jerry's. He gets a Super Bowl. All that. I said that's the way that maybe he would change the name. Getting the property, getting the land, getting a good deal from the city to make concessions to change the name."
It's all horribly preliminary and will be a long time before anything happens on the stadium front, if anything does. But this is a warning shot, Snyder announcing that he's coming for public money to build a new stadium when his current one (itself about 30 percent publicly funded) is perfectly functional.
Let's hope this is the hill that public funding for stadiums mercifully dies upon. If we have to pick one American billionaire to finally stand up to and say, no, that tax money should probably go to the schools instead of to a rich guy who owns a football team, let it be Dan Snyder.