Let Them Leave
Why are we still talking about a new Football Stadium for Prince George's County?
Maryland and Prince George’s County are apparently playing the role of spurned lovers in the Washington Commanders stadium fiasco:
Newly obtained documents show Prince George’s and the state have developed an expansive vision for a 5-mile corridor of economic development to surround a new stadium, similar to Virginia’s “mini-city” approach. The state and county told the team in confidential documents that Prince George’s will help further team president Jason Wright’s goals for a stadium project that also advances social-justice initiatives.
Maryland is clearly willing to spend heavily on stadiums. Lawmakers are advancing a plan to put $1.2 billion into upgrading the state’s other two major pro sports stadiums, in Baltimore. But, so far, state leaders have not introduced legislation to implement the Commanders pitch.
And if Prince George’s loses the Commanders and the multibillion-dollar project to build a new team stadium, the county would face an economic crater.
“I’m asking you to remember Prince George’s County,” Alsobrooks said in her first public pitch for money for the stadium proposal. “Prince George’s County residents deserve the same commitment and resources.”
There are a LOT of different loose ends here.
First, on principle, Maryland should still not be in the stadium business. Maryland should be selling off the stadium assets it already owns, not trying to add new stadium properties or spending $1.2 billion to upgrade the existing Baltimore sports complex.
Second, the “economic crater” of Prince George’s County does not say a whole lot about the leadership of Prince George’s County over the last twenty-five years does it? The County, which has been under one-party Democratic rule for decades, seems to have not done enough to encourage business development in the county if the departure of the team will leave an “economic crater” for a venue used ten times a year.
While I acknowledge that the FedEx Field tract is over 200 acres of privately owned land that the county has no control over, it is hard to imagine that the land would not be valuable if the team sold it. Nor can I imagine that the county’s economic situation depends on those 200+ acres hosting football games.
But why is the five-mile strip of proposed redevelopment contingent on a new stadium? Why have Angela Alsobrooks and her administration not implemented this plan already?
But finally, it comes back to a question that I asked the last time we talked about this four years ago:
The fact is that the state should not be in the business of securing land from the federal government for the purpose of building any sort of athletic stadium. Certainly not for a football team that is incorporated in Virginia, has its training camp in Virginia, practices in Virginia, and where most of its players live in Virginia. The [Commanders] may be a “regional” team insofar as that the team draws fans from D.C., Maryland, Virginia and beyond, they are a Virginia based operation.
Let Virginia build them a stadium.
Nothing about that has changed. The Commanders only connection to Maryland is that they built their stadium here. They should not receive a penny more from the State of Maryland.
If the Commanders want a new stadium in Maryland, they can pay for it themselves. Otherwise, they can build it in Washington, Richmond, or Timbuktu for all I care. As long as Maryland taxpayers aren’t asked to pick up the check.