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Virginia senators raise doubts about Commanders stadium bill

Two key Virginia state senators yesterday separately “raised doubts about legislation meant to lure” the Commanders to the state with a "new, taxpayer-supported stadium, signaling that the effort could be in trouble when the General Assembly returns to the Capitol next week,” according to Laura Vozzella of the WASHINGTON POST. Sen. Chap Petersen, for years one of the team’s "most ardent boosters in Richmond," announced that he will “not vote for a stadium bill -- in part because he has lost ‘confidence in the Washington Commanders as a viable NFL franchise.’” Separately, Sen. Stephen Newman said that controversies surrounding Commanders Owner Dan Snyder “threaten to sink the legislation.” Newman: “Most people would like to have the team here. The question that still remains is whether or not there is any political will to move forward this year given some of the difficulties surrounding the owner” (WASHINGTON POST, 5/26). In DC, Matthew Paras writes the statement was an “abrupt turn” as Petersen was one of the main backers of the project as he originally “voted for a bill in the state senate earlier this year.” Petersen’s withdrawal could be an "indication that the stadium bill is losing support in Virginia’s legislature” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/26).

NOT SO FAST: In Richmond, Michael Phillips in a front-page piece reports if the project “fails, or doesn’t come up for a vote,” the team that was once expecting a bidding war between three localities (DC, Maryland and Virginia) is instead “looking at receiving no direct public support from any of the three in its quest for a new stadium.” Maryland’s legislature “put an offer of $400 million on the table,” but the state would “control how the money is spent, and added the stipulation that it couldn’t be used on the stadium itself, only the surrounding area and infrastructure.” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has “supported the project, as did his two predecessors.” It was “unclear” yesterday night, though, if it would “have the votes to proceed through the Senate.” Other senators have “raised concerns about investigations into sexual harassment at the franchise.” Virginia Del. Marcus Simon requested an amendment that would “pull state support if new information came to light” (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 5/26).

LAYING DOWN THE GAUNTLET: In DC, John Feinstein writes a number of NFL owners are “willing to consider a ‘tough suspension’” of Snyder. This “tough suspension” would “apparently be considered only if the latest NFL investigation of Snyder’s various misdeeds -- which includes an allegation of the team cooking its books -- again finds him guilty.” The NFL now is “really mad -- especially at the notion that the team might have been manipulating its finances so as not to pay money due the other owners.” Feinstein: “That -- not treating women horribly -- would really upset them. Thus the theoretical talk of a ‘tough suspension.’” The NFL has “done everything it can to protect Snyder, even allowing him to begin to investigate himself” in the wake of the initial sexual harassment allegations. Feinstein: “This nightmare doesn’t end until Snyder is forced to sell." A new owner could "walk in with a clean slate" and "not be dragged down by what is now 23 years of rancid baggage.” Feinstein writes he would suggest that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "take a leadership role in getting this done, but he’s too busy shopping for new suits and putting out bogus news releases about the NFL’s search (ha!) for more diversity” (WASHINGTON POST, 5/26).

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