WASHINGTON — For all the talk about where the next Redskins stadium should be built, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is focused on improving the area around the team’s current stadium, FedEx Field.
“That’s been the big talk, is whether in fact they will move or not move,” Baker told The Sports Junkies Thursday. “Certainly they have a list.”
“When we talked to the Redskins organization, what they said to us is they want amenities for the fans to come there, want a downtown experience,” he said. “If you look at what we’ve done in the county in downtown Largo, which will be redeveloped, they’re actually going to be in a downtown area.”
“It won’t be just a stadium by itself,” he said. “Once we put the hospital there and the redevelopment of the boulevard, it’s going to give it a downtown feel as if you were in D.C. The other thing, if they’re looking for areas, we’ve got areas that I think are entertainment areas. I told them that area I think they’re in is going to be great in Largo, but also if you look at National Harbor and that area, which is an entertainment district.”
“You’ve got everything there,” he said. “Just think about it: You’ve got MGM, you’ve got National Harbor, Gaylord [National Resort & Convention Center], you’ve got Tanger Outlet. And it’s right next to D.C., Virginia, Maryland.”
Eric Bickel wondered how Prince George’s County can avoid being over-leveraged by the organization in pursuit of a new stadium.
“[Dan Snyder’s] going to want to hold you hostage,” Bickel said. “And he’s going to want you to pay for half the stadium. Right? Isn’t that how that works?”
“That’s how it works,” Baker said. “I think you strike the best deal of what’s coming back to the state and to the county. You know, we make investments all the time into businesses, and this is a business.”
“But how’s it help you if it’s like 10 games a year?” Bickel asked.
“Well, you have to make it more than 10 games a year,” Baker said. “Concerts, the ability to actually have restaurants around, that are open, and the stadium itself, year round.”
The conversation comes at a pivotal time in the Baker’s political career. Midway through his second term as county executive, Baker recently announced his candidacy to become Maryland’s next governor in 2018. Securing Prince George’s County as the current and future home of the Redskins would certainly be a feather in his cap toward his gubernatorial candidacy.
It also comes as Maryland’s biggest rival for the Redskins’ next home, Virginia, makes its own public pitch. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, whose term is up in 2018, has been a loud champion of the Dulles corridor as a potential stadium site.
“You need an area with a big enough land mass to it, like they’re doing in L.A.,” McAuliffe said last week. “They’re basically building a new city around the football stadium.”
“So I feel very good that in the future you’re going to see this team move to Virginia,” McAuliffe added.
Asked if Snyder is trying to leverage Maryland against Virginia for the best deal, Baker said, “After seven years of dealing with business people, major corporations, they’re always leveraging something.”
“And so what we have to do, we’re a major corporation,” he explained. “We’re a $5 billion corporation, that’s what the county is, and so we try to leverage ours along with them to get the best resources for the county.”
Bickel wondered why Baker seems to prefer the current site, as opposed to National Harbor.
“Because you don’t have to build another stadium,” co-host John-Paul Flaim interjected. “They would just stay in the current.”
“That stadium’s poop,” Bickel said of FedEx Field.