Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Richmond Redskins?

Yesterday, the new Mayor of Washington, Muriel Bowser, made it clear that she would like the Redskins to move back to the District. How you ask? To make it possible, she would work to find suitable land for a new stadium. This is a reversal in DC policy. Former Mayor Vincent Gray made it clear that the Redskins would have to change their name before they would be allowed back in DC.

However, Bowser, not to stray too far from the politically correct orthodoxy would not use the word Redskins, rather she pusillanimously stated “Washington (Redskins) belongs in Washington.”

My guess is Redskins owner Daniel Snyder did not appreciate Bowser’s refusal, indeed, discourtesy, of not using the team’s name. Political correctness is a funny thing. She wants the Redskins to come to DC, but feels compelled not to refer to them by their name.

It is no secret that Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe wants the Redskins to move to Virginia. His legacy was supposed to be the expansion of the popular welfare program medicaid. Seems the General Assembly would not go along, but bringing the Redskins here would be a major accomplishment. I think Terry is down with the idea.

He is not the first Governor to desire luring the team to the Old Dominion. In the early 1990's, I remember then Governor Doug Wilder’s coup in getting the Redskins to tentatively agree to come to Alexandria on the condition that a stadium would be built in Potomac Yards. However, neighborhood opposition stopped the project.

Snyder clearly likes doing business in Virginia. The team is based in Ashburn and practices in Richmond. Why not play the games in Virginia? In addition, taxes are lower in Virginia; the state will not moralize him and other Redskin executives about the team’s name. In fact far from moralizing on the name, Virginia officials will actually proudly say Redskins! Seems like a deal to build a stadium in the Old Dominion is a no brainer, so mutually beneficial that even Terry McAuliffe could not screw it up.

But, if the Redskins move to Virginia where would the stadium be built? My guess is the state would prefer it be somewhere other than Northern Virginia. First of two reasons are traffic problems with Route 66 and 395 to 14th Street Bridge are already parking lots. Second is the perennial neighborhood and community opposition exemplified by the Disney America project and the Redskins proposed move to Alexandria in the 1990’s.

It seems to me somewhere north of Richmond would be the best location for the state perhaps next to Kings Dominion in Doswell. Such a location, with the right financial inducements, could be agreeable to the Redskins. Heck, Hanover or Caroline county would probably pay to build the stadium.

Some may say Richmond is a small market, but in this day and age, pro sports team's fan base is not limited to the city they play in. In other words, if the Redskins play in Richmond, their fan base really does not change. The fans will still be in the DC metro area.

Simply put, as long as they keep the name Redskins their fans will for the most part remain. Whether the city name is Richmond or Washington is irrelevant. My father in law lives a mile from FedEx field, and he has never been to the stadium, but he is a die-hard Redskins fan. If the team plays in Richmond will it matter? Probably not, he will continue to root for the burgundy and gold from the comfort of his home.

You may have a smaller crowd and stadium in Richmond, but so what. As long as the team has the same TV contracts and jersey sales, their market value will remain strong.

Let’s face it Richmond Redskins just sounds better...it rolls off the tongue.

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