Commanders: Small Stadium Would Still Create 2,246 Jobs

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A proposed stadium for the NFL's Washington Commanders would hold 55,000 fans — the smallest seating capacity in the league — but would still create thousands of jobs, according to the team's own economic impact study.

According to the study, which was prepared by JLL Sports & Entertainment and obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the direct economic impact of the stadium complex and surrounding development in Virginia would be $24.7 billion, and the project would support 2,246 jobs by 2033.

The team has previously described state support as a prerequisite for launching the project, but when legislators convene on Wednesday, they won’t take up a potential $350 million subsidy for the estimated $3 billion project — following three high-profile defections over the weekend, that vote is now on hold until at least later in the special session.

“We are grateful for the bipartisan support the stadium authority legislation has already received, and any additional time will certainly provide us with more opportunities to share how this project can create new jobs, generate significant tax revenue, and spur economic development,” team president Jason Wright said in a statement, as reported by the Times-Dispatch.

One of the top concerns from lawmakers about a proposed site in Woodbridge would be adding to an already-untenable traffic situation on I-95 near Woodbridge.

In a discussion last week, a team official involved in the project said the proposed complex has the potential to transform traffic woes in the area by providing tax revenues that would assist in new road and transit projects.

The study estimates $3.04 billion in tax revenue generated over the projected 30-year life of the stadium and surrounding development.

Economic impact studies have routinely been criticized by opponents for presenting lofty ideals of proposed projects, and failing to account that not all spending inside new development will be new spending, that some of it would have been spent anyway at other nearby businesses.

JLL also helped with The Battery project in the Atlanta area, a mixed-use development that has inspired the Commanders’ plans.

A recent study found the Braves’ project was falling short of projections by nearly $15 million a year, though the team noted that attendance was negatively impacted by the pandemic and the COO of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce said in 2020 that the revenue created “is exceeding the early projections.”

In Virginia, an early version of the stadium bill easily cleared the Senate this year, but since then three lawmakers — all Democrats — have withdrawn their support, citing concerns about doing business with Washington owner Dan Snyder while he remains under Congressional investigation of alleged sexual harassment within his organization..

Related: Former Employees: Money Offered for Silence on WFT Culture

As the NFL goes on a stadium-building binge, one unmistakable trend is the move toward smaller facilities.

Buffalo’s new stadium will have an estimated 60,000 seats, which will make it the smallest capacity in the NFL.

However, Washington’s proposal is for a 55,000-seat stadium.

A person with knowledge of the project’s development told the Times-Dispatch that the goal isn’t to attract the largest events on a sporadic basis, but to create a strong environment for the team every Sunday at home games.

The team is also considering other sites for the project — Maryland’s state government has authorized a $400 million subsidy for development on the site of the team's current home, FedEx Field site, which was once the largest venue in the NFL, but would retain control of that spending and would not authorize it to be used on the stadium itself.

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