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Rick Snider: Not too soon for Redskins to consider new home

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Photo - Alex Brandon/AP
The Redskins could decide to move to another stadium after their lease at FedEx Field ends following the 2026 season.
Alex Brandon/AP The Redskins could decide to move to another stadium after their lease at FedEx Field ends following the 2026 season.
Sports,NFL,Redskins,Rick Snider

The National Harbor Redskins?

When the Washington Redskins opt for a new stadium by 2027, the District appears to be a long shot, Virginia a dark horse and Prince George's County the front-runner.

While 14 years seems eons away, it's really not too early to start dealing with politicians and securing a site. The Redskins are already working back channels with the District government, according to political and business sources familiar with past, present and future moves concerning the stadium. Indeed, Mayor Vincent Gray, a regular visitor to the FedEx Field executive suites, ended his brief boycott of the name "Redskins" once a team official inquired about the ban.

Talking with those sources, one surprising theme occurred:

The RFK Stadium site is no lock for a new Redskins facility.

The team's 1961-96 home was expected to welcome the team back in 2027 when the FedEx Field lease ends. It has the needed land and mass transit.

However, residents stared down Gray last year during a community meeting about the team building a practice facility by RFK. Sources said Gray was completely caught off guard by the opposition, which wants stores and other daily amenities instead.

Capitol Hill pressure will be harder to overcome. The RFK land is federally owned, and even late Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke couldn't make a deal with lawmakers. The Squire wielded far more power than Snyder, so if Cooke couldn't get it done, then Snyder has little chance.

And the Redskins changing their name might be part of any political tradeoff for the land. The team was forced to sign black players when it moved to RFK, and politicians may want the name changed this time.

The District seems short on available land for a stadium. The New York Avenue site considered in 1997 has since been developed. So has the Nationals Park option. If the city creates another site, it certainly will be short on parking. While Metro works for fans, it doesn't put money in Snyder's pocket.

So what's Plan B? Virginia couldn't complete a deal with Cooke in 1992 despite a news conference at Potomac Yards. Richmond lawmakers aren't keen on spending money for a stadium on its border with Washington as the team's name. However, the team's relocation of training camp to Richmond beginning this summer will soften opposition should it remain in the Virginia capital past the 2020 deal.

Potomac Yards is no longer viable, but sources said there are available sites if a deal is made in coming years.

The team could stay at FedEx past 2026, but the county would then control the stadium, and the Redskins would be tenants. That's not going to work.

The Maryland Stadium Authority and Prince George's leaders may offer an alternative -- National Harbor. The venue by the Wilson Bridge soon will add a casino to its waterfront complex, and there's land for a stadium. The team now stays overnight at Gaylord National Hotel Resort & Convention Center before games.

The lack of Metro would be a major obstacle, but the Wilson Bridge has lanes capable of adding mass transit. But then, that takes years to accomplish.

And that's why 2013 is not too early to begin looking for a stadium site.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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