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Virginia Lawmakers Quash Attempt to Stop Redskins Stadium Bidding War

A plan to prevent a potential bidding war for the Washington Redskins’ next stadium died in committee on Wednesday.

The bill from Michael Webert (R-Marshall) would have established a compact with Washington D.C. and Maryland to agree not to provide financial incentives to a “Washington area professional football team franchise facility.”

“I’m really here to stop a bidding game between our state, Maryland, and D.C.,” Webert said.

But lawmakers unanimously struck down the bill. Several argued that that bidding war--and state handouts--were fantasy.

“I really don't think Dan Snyder thinks we’re going to give him any money,” said Del. Mark Sickles (D-Alexandria), in a reference to the owner of the team.

Del. Steve Landes (R-Weyers Cave) said Virginia politicians didn’t have the appetite for big stadium incentives.

“I don’t get a sense that the General Assembly would allow us to get into a bidding war,” Landes said.

The Redskins' current lease at FedEx Field in Prince George’s County, Maryland runs through 2027. Maryland Governor Larry Rogan  said last mont h that he’d reached a tentative land swap with the federal government with the goal of keeping the stadium there. Meanwhile, the  Washington Post reported in December that Snyder was pushing for Congress to lease land in Washington D.C. for a replacement stadium.

Webert argued that stadium incentives have a bad economic track record;  several studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of incentives, and  one 2017 poll of economists found that a majority thought the incentives cost more to taxpayers than they were worth.

Sickles said the state wouldn’t rule out a plan that redirected new tax dollars generated by a stadium towards paying back the cost of its construction. The City of Richmond is considering a version of this plan to fund a replacement for the Coliseum.

“I really don't think we’re going to get in a bidding war with D.C., because we would lose,” Sickles said.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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