Washington NFL team won’t change name for new stadium, still likely to have plenty of stadium offers

Bruce Allen, president of Washington’s NFL team, was asked yesterday whether the team would consider changing its ethnic-slur name if that proved a roadblock to getting a new stadium. Allen’s answer:

“No,” he said.

This is consistent with what Allen’s boss, owner Daniel Snyder, has said all along, so no huge surprise here. It’s likely to be a roadblock to getting a new stadium on the RFK Stadium site in D.C., however, notes ESPN, since the federal government owns that site, and would need to approve a lease extension in order for a new stadium to be built there, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is an avowed opponent of the team name.

This would hardly leave the team high and dry, since, as ESPN notes, “Governors in both Maryland and Virginia have said Washington’s nickname would not be an issue in trying to get a stadium built.” (The team can also always wait out Jewell and see if the next Interior Secretary in 2017 is more amenable.) Also, you know, the team already has a stadium in Maryland that’s just 18 years old. Apparently ESPN doesn’t think that’s remarkable enough to be worth mentioning, though, and given the way things are going in the NFL, maybe it isn’t.

18 comments on “Washington NFL team won’t change name for new stadium, still likely to have plenty of stadium offers

  1. I’ve never been to RFK, but a Redskins fan I know in Bethesda hates the location of the current stadium. He also said it is sort of in a limbo where it doesn’t have the nostalgia factor of RFK, but it’s not snazzy like Nationals Park. What I’m saying is that the Skins need a new stadium and the RFK location makes a lot of sense.

    Jewell is obviously a non-factor here. She’ll be gone long before serious negotiations to move to the RFK site ever begin. She’s just scoring political points for herself by offering up red meat to the moralizers.

  2. Good point on Jewell, Ben — meant to mention that as well, just went back and added it.

    As for “needing” a new stadium, if “not snazzy” and no “nostalgia factor” means you qualify, that’s going to be two-thirds of the league.

  3. RFK location makes little sense for a football stadium. RFK was designed to be used 100+ days a year. Taking land near a Metro and giving it to a private entity to use 10 times a year doesn’t make any sense for the city that has a bunch of other issues and a need for space for other uses (especially since they want the city to pay for it).

    And how a lease extension would ever get through Congress at this point is a completely different matter (and getting a lease extension that would allow non-stadium functions would be even harder). Having a hostile administration isn’t going to help either (even if Jewell is gone, the city is on record as opposing the name for the team because of it’s nature.)

    Where the stadium is in Landover is probable the best location for one.

  4. Call them the Washington Poles. Has a nice ring to it.

    And in reality, the Natives were great warriors just about the same way that the Poles were in 1939.

  5. Seriously? We’re going to start demeaning entire ethnicities for not being able to defeat smallpox-laden blankets and Hitler?

  6. Snyder is playing the long-game. Just because the current federal administration is against the name doesn’t mean that future administrations will, particularly if a republican wins in 2016. Besides, as has been said before, the name-change card is leverage that can be used in negotiations, so why would he give that up so early?

  7. Neil,

    …and in a bad location. That’s the key. If this non-snazzy, non-nostalgic stadium were at the RFK site, then the Redskins would be happy to stay there and renovate.

  8. I didn’t know there was a team in D.C with an offensive nickname. The Senators stopped playing in 1971.

  9. Lived in the DC area for many years until very recently. It’s only a “bad location” compared to RFK, which has the unique advantage of an on-site Metro station. Given the traffic situation throughout the area, there are no other “good locations” for a football stadium in the region. That’s not to say that putting another stadium at the RFK site is a good idea, just that the “bad location” tag on FedEx Field is nonsense.

    Snazzy and nostalgic are all fine and good for baseball stadiums that teams try to fill 81+ times a year. It’s meaningless for a football stadium that’s visited by the same group of 40,000-60,000 people 8-10 times a year.

  10. The Redskins are coming back to DC, Sally Jewell is a non-issue, she’ll be long gone by the time Federal approval is requested.

  11. Oops, didn’t hit refresh before posting so I repeated what others had already written.

    RFK is the ideal site for a stadium, right in the middle of town between MD and VA and right off of 295 and 395. The real shame is that the new soccer stadium is being build on a peninsula that will be a traffic mess for every game.

  12. OHHHHHH looks like we might add another team to the L.A. NFL saga

    GO DC Dragons 2016.

  13. RFK site works great if its a stadium like the new vikings dome. Thus, you get lots of conventions, final four, etc. Such a stadium might actually make sense for DC. I mean compared to all the other govt waste, this is small potatoes

  14. 1) The D.C. convention center is a good couple of miles from the RFK site, so I doubt you’ll get a lot of new conventions from building a new domed stadium. (Even if conventions were big money-makers, which they’re not, since every city is bidding for a dwindling number.)

    2) If all the stadiums that are supposed to benefit from Final Fours are going to get them, they’re going to have to play six or seven NCAA tournaments a year.

  15. There is more than just opposition from Jewell. The city council has expressed concern over the name as well.

    DC is a central location in between Maryland and Virginia. Snyder doesn’t want to move somewhere else in Maryland or Virginia, he wants to be more centrally located.

    He will change the name. And DC will give him the old RFK stadium land.

  16. FEDEX Field is an awful stadium in an awful location–however, as pointed out for an inconvenience that takes place 8-10 times a year, the location is probably good enough for football games.

    However, bear in mind that as a ‘privately funded’ stadium it absolutely reflected the opinion of ‘smart businessmen’ of what a stadium in the DC area would need in the next couple generations. They happened to get it completely wrong–which should give pause (but won’t) to those who insist they know that “this time” a new publicly-funded stadium would work, “spur” development, create jobs, etc.

    I haven’t heard anyone insist that FEDEX has “spurred” anything. So I guess again we’re back to stadiums spurring development where it would have taken place anyway.

    Furthermore, FEDEX is hamstrung by the refusal of the team to properly pay for mass-transit access to the site to help with the traffic, which generally results in thousands of drunks walking more than a mile in Maryland to the Metro and waiting an hour or more for a train to the city (The Nationals have had this problem too). I’d expect this problem to return again with this ownership no matter where the Stadium is.