Eventually Dan Snyder is going to get around to demanding public money for a new stadium for his crappy team, and brother, when he gets there, it’s going to be huge. But between now and then he has to figure out which plot of land in which municipality will become the site of his obscene moat-encircled football monstrosity, and that process is already scuzzy and underhanded as hell. Here’s a cursed lede:
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is getting help from District officials, congressional Republicans and the Trump administration as he tries to clear a major roadblock to building a new, 60,000-seat stadium on the site of RFK Stadium.
The Washington Post reported last week that Snyder and certain slimy allies are working behind the scenes to get a provision squeezed into this month’s massive federal spending bill that will grease the skids for his lousy, dysfunctional team’s triumphant return to the District of Columbia. The long and short of it is this: the site of old RFK stadium is controlled by the federal government, and Snyder and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser—who has a history of demeaning herself in an effort to woo this shit-ass team— would like for the conditions of its lease to the district to be tailored for the sole purpose of serving as the next home of Snyder’s clown show of a football team.
The existing lease conditions allow for a stadium—and, indeed, a stadium sits there today—but otherwise permit only “recreational facilities, open space, or public outdoor recreation opportunities.” This behind-the-scenes push involves opening up the site to additional commercial development, which is a virtual prerequisite for modern stadium construction, and would serve as a sweetener for the city’s courtship of Snyder, the needs and wishes of neighborhood residents be damned.
The provision could pave the way for the NFL stadium and other commercial development on the 190-acre site that was the setting of the team’s greatest triumphs. By tucking it into a complex spending bill, the team and local officials could sidestep some public debate over whether other uses for the coveted parcel of land would benefit a broader swath of D.C. residents.
As far back as 2008, neighborhood residents have been waiting for progress on a mixed-use development plan for the site that would add some much-needed new affordable housing, some green space, room for local businesses, and a damn grocery store to their underserved neighborhood. The city has done worse than drag their feet on this—last year they reportedly dangled the site to Jeff Bezos, while he was hunting for communities to consume with his new corporate headquarters. That flirtation led nowhere, but it’s clear the city views the site as bait to lure this or that gross billionaire shithead into blessing them with a gaudy name-brand project.
Because the D.C. government has limited home rule, congressional Republicans in particular think very little of dropping provisions into must-pass federal legislation in order to screw district residents. D.C. councilmember at-large David Grosso, who sent a letter to DC’s non-voting congressional delegate this week urging her to block Snyder’s “backdoor attempt,” told Deadspin that historically Democrats could be relied upon to protect district residents “from this kind of maneuver,” but that the current makeup of the federal government puts the district in a vulnerable position.
“Now with the Republicans in control, and Trump in the White House, there’s less of a desire to hold onto public lands in the federal government,” said Grosso. “So the city I think is trying—the Mayor especially and her team are trying to take advantage of that sentiment and get this land moved over to the District of Columbia, for the purposes of wooing Dan Snyder and the football team to come back to the city.” Hence the urgency:
The effort comes as Snyder and government officials fear that the coming change in House control from Republicans to Democrats could complicate future attempts to secure the RFK site, according to multiple local and federal officials familiar with the discussions.
The concern of Snyder’s opponents goes beyond that a stadium project would trample the priorities of neighborhood residents. Snyder is playing Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia against each other—he’s reportedly working another secret sweetheart deal with Maryland’s governor to free up a plot of public land near National Harbor in Prince George’s County—with the long con eventually producing tax abatements and other financial incentives, almost certainly including a fat wad of public money for construction. But even if the stadium is privately financed (spoiler alert: it won’t be), Grosso says the city would still need to come up with “upwards of $200 million just in infrastructure improvements,” which is money that would be far better spent elsewhere.
Apart from this just being another example of why the District of Columbia should be granted statehood and its residents given the same home rule and representation in the federal government that you or I take for granted, it’s another reminder of what a villainous piece of crap Dan Snyder is. He’s worn out and wiped out his team’s fanbase and destroyed all of the stature and good will it once enjoyed in D.C., and now he’s counting on sleazy outgoing Republicans and an insanely crooked administration to help him defile public lands without the consent or support of those same locals. It’s not the usual stadium scam—not yet—but he’ll get there eventually. In the meantime, a tidy little amuse-bouche scam, a nice “fuck you” to the locals who are stuck with his shit-show for the foreseeable future.