WASHINGTON — Although former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening had a hand in moving the Redskins from RFK Stadium in D.C. to FedExField in Landover, Maryland, he now says he believes that was a big mistake.
“I’ve always believed that stadiums ought to be in downtown areas, or at least in suburban areas that have a certain… downtown feel to them,” he tells WNEW.
“If anyone has the slightest doubt about that policy, just spend an afternoon at a Washington team game versus the Ravens,” he says.
“You’re building a stadium for hundreds of millions of dollars and you don’t want it just to be an isolated thing sticking out in the middle of nowhere. You want it to be a total fan and family experience.”
Glendening compares the experience at FedExField to those at M&T Bank Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and even Nationals Park.
“What you see is a totally different experience. You see people walking around before and after the game. You see them going out to dinner, you see people coming to the hotels… and spending the weekend,” he says.
You see these things because downtown areas are walkable and have transit access, he adds.
“What happens when you build in the middle of a cow field? Every single person must drive, they arrive by car, there’s nothing to do whatsoever.”
That results in tailgating and an abundance of drinking, he says. Then, at the end of the game, “everyone must leave at one time.”
He explains that he went along with the plan to build FedExField in Landover because of the state’s desire to bring the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore:
“Quite candidly, I’ll take part of the blame. And the reason I say that is, we had worked hard to get the Cleveland Browns to come to Maryland, there was a lot of negotiations going on for about a year beforehand. Then I worked with the state legislature to get them to approve the infrastructure package that would make this work… right about that time [former Redskins owner] Jack Kent Cooke comes in and wants to build this new stadium. I initially said no, that it wasn’t the right location. But, candidly, what happened was pure politics in the sense that a number of legislators from Prince George’s County who were solid votes for the Ravens came to me and said that they could not vote for the Ravens and not for a team in their home county… so I capitulated and we put enough infrastructure money in to build Arena Drive and a couple other improvements, and in part that’s why it went ahead there.”
Browns owner Art Modell had announced in November 1995 that his franchise would be moving to Baltimore. The Browns relocated and became the Ravens the next year. They played their first few seasons at Memorial Stadium, and M&T Bank Stadium opened in September 1998.
The contract that allowed FedExField construction to move forward was signed in March 1996 and the stadium opened in September 1997.
“The only thing that justified [the FedExField decision] in any way is that we clearly would have lost the battle for the Ravens had we not have done so,” Glendening says.
The Redskins’ current lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027 and team owner Dan Snyder told Comcast SportsNet last year that the process of designing a new stadium has already begun.
WNEW’s PJ Elliott and Courtney Pomeroy contributed to this report.
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