U.S. House passes bill to redevelop RFK Stadium site, open door for Commanders' return to D.C.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 23: A detail of the Washington Commanders logo on a helmet against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half at AT&T Stadium on November 23, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images)
The Commanders' next stadium is a free-for-all between D.C., Maryland and Virginia. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images) (Brandon Sloter via Getty Images)

The U.S. House of Representatives opened the door for the Washington Commanders' return to D.C. on Wednesday with a successful vote to redevelop the site of the vacant and decrepit RFK Stadium, per the Washington Post.

The D.C. RFK Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act saw strong bipartisan support with 197 Democrats and 151 Republicans voting in favor of the bill, which passed 348-55. The bill will now move to the Senate.

If the bill makes it through both chambers of Congress and gets President Joe Biden's signature, the RFK Stadium site will be turned over to D.C., which will turn the riverfront property into a mixed-use development with commercial and residential properties, as well as a possible stadium for the Commanders. Officially, the legislation will transfer control of the site from the federal government to D.C. for 99 years with no rent, with the city taking on any costs associated with the development and maintenance. The bill also sets aside 30% of the land for park and open space.

The Commanders' lease at the soon-to-be-former FedEx Field runs through 2027. The fight for their next stadium has been developing for years, with D.C., Virginia and incumbent Maryland all lobbying team owner Josh Harris to build the new stadium in their jurisdiction.

The bill currently going through Congress would officially give D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser a chance to negotiate for real. The Commanders left RFK Stadium in 1996 for FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, and Bowser has not been coy with her desire to lure the team back.

Unsurprisingly, the Congressional Maryland delegation fully opposed the bill, with one member claiming it gives D.C. an unfair advantage.

From the Post:

“Like other members of the Maryland delegation, I believe Prince George’s County in Maryland should be able to compete on a level playing field to keep the Washington Commanders,” Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.) said. “But this bill gives an unfair advantage to D.C. It’s most certainly not a level playing field when one interested jurisdiction receives a free transfer of federal government subsidized land.”

There are still countless obstacles after this bill before D.C. can break ground on a stadium. The D.C. Council will also have to weigh in, and there will likely be no shortage of voices on the best way to use the land.

There's also the financial game, and D.C. will have a considerable opponent in Maryland, which has already invested $400 million to revitalize the Blue Line Corridor area surrounding FedEx Field.

D.C. is under even more pressure to land the Commanders after losing the Wizards and Capitals to Virginia. Bowser offered $500 million in upgrades to Capital One Arena to keep those teams, and the Post speculates that could represent the floor in talks to bring the NFL back to town.