Maryland’s long-shot bid to lure the Washington Redskins to Oxon Cove, an environmentally-sensitive site near National Harbor in Prince George’s County, appeared to come to an abrupt end on Tuesday, when Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced he is abandoning efforts to facilitate a stadium deal with the team.
The announcement was first reported by The Washington Post Tuesday night.
Hogan’s decision appeared to reflect a growing reality that there was little political or financial upside to getting the Redskins to move from Landover to a parcel currently under federal control near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
The team currently plays at FedEx Field, a 22-year-old facility just off the Capital Beltway. The club’s lease at FedEx runs through 2027.
County officials were caught off-guard late last year when Hogan disclosed that he had been negotiating with then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and team owner Daniel M. Snyder.
His plan was to swap Oxon Cove, a 500-acre federal park with an active farm, for land that the state owns near Civil War battlefields, then to provide the Prince George’s site to the team at little or no cost.
Hogan repeatedly insisted that the state would not provide any money for the stadium. (Snyder is a billionaire who made his fortune in marketing.)
Members of Maryland’s congressional delegation were also kept in the dark, a potential miscalculation by Hogan given that congressional approval would be needed for the swap to occur.
Further, numerous media reports suggested that Hogan would be risking damage to his reputation by spending political capital to help Snyder, whose tenure as owner of the Redskins has been marked by prolonged under-achievement on the field and a mediocre — and overly-expensive — fan experience at FedEx Field.
Maryland Matters recently reported that while Hogan was willing to spearhead negotiations on obtaining Oxon Cove, he expected Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) to consummate the stadium deal with Snyder.
Alsobrooks was careful to remain neutral on the matter, though she consistently indicated that a new NFL stadium would never overtake more pressing priorities such as education, public safety, health care and economic development.
That left an obvious question: Who would foot the bill for the hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements needed to make Oxon Cove viable for a stadium?
In the eyes of many observers, the answer, increasingly, was “no one.”
Despite Hogan’s decision to end his pursuit of the Redskins, spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said the state will continue efforts to gain control of Oxon Cove.
“We are not continuing discussions with the Redskins regarding this site at this time, however we are moving full steam ahead with acquiring state control of the Maryland Gateway in Prince George’s County from the federal government,” she wrote in an email.
“We believe this site holds significant potential benefits for the region and the state, as does the proposal to expand protected federal parkland in Western Maryland. We are working closely with our federal partners to finalize the transfer.”