By Mark F. Gray, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has punted on his hopes to keep Washington D.C.’s NFL franchise in Prince George’s County. The governor at least temporarily ended conversations with the team about building a new football stadium on Oxon Cove Park adjacent to the MGM National Harbor for the foreseeable future.
In a story first reported by The Washington Post, there had been extensive conversations between Maryland officials and the federal government that would have cleared a parcel of land next to MGM National Harbor casino for a potential stadium project. However, through a statement issued to the paper, Hogan’s communications director Amelia Chasse says the state is still interested in acquiring the property but no longer for building a new home for the struggling football franchise.
“Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has informed the Washington [NFL franchise] that he is withdrawing from efforts to persuade the team to build its next stadium in Oxon Cove Park, adjacent to MGM National Harbor at this time,” Chase confirmed Feb. 12.
Hogan reportedly had secret conversations with former ounty executive Rushern L. Baker, and team owner Daniel M. Snyder for two years. This deal was reportedly negotiated between the team and Maryland officials in September 2017 but wasn’t made public until The Post broke the news last December. It also reportedly included separate letters from Hogan and Baker sent to President Donald J. Trump requesting the Department of Interior transfer the site to the state through a potential land swap agreement.
The Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. According to The Post, the city’s lease on the stadium site, with the National Park Service, states the land must be used for “stadium purposes” or “recreational facilities, open space or public outdoor recreation opportunities,” only excluding commercial development. Hogan is apparently still interested in securing the property though not for a stadium.
Now that Governor Hogan and President Trump appear to be on different sides of the aisle on a variety of issues, including who should be the Republican nominee in the 2020 presidential election, Maryland may have lost an advocate on Capitol Hill. Hogan may have also lost some favor with the County’s delegation in Annapolis.
“I don’t believe that football stadiums are economic engines, and I don’t think they promote development in the surrounding area,” Delegate Jay Walker, who represents Oxon Hill told the Maryland Matters website. “That’s why I’m not staying up at night.”
However, the real loser is Snyder’s organization, who has lost leverage with any municipality it tries to negotiate with for a new stadium. Neither D.C., Maryland, nor Virginia will commit public funding to the project but, have committed to subsidizing the infrastructure work necessary to support the projected state of the art 60,000 seat venue. According to the Maryland Matters website, lawmakers have grown weary of the team’s owner as well.
“Right now, the [Washington NFL franchise] are not in great favor,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) told Maryland Matters. “The governor needs to see what Dan Snyder is doing. He’s buying a $100 million yacht. Why can’t he put that in Oxon Hill and help save the taxpayers some money?”
If the stadium is supposed to be built with an eye toward the future, recent unscientific social media polling suggests that the team has lost connection with its millennial fan base. The generation of fans who’ve grown up during Snyder’s ownership are so disillusioned by this paradoxical era they would rather see the current franchise move and the NFL return with an expansion team.