City leaders in Washington D.C. have announced that they will block plans by the Washington Redskins to move from Maryland to D.C.’s RFK Stadium unless the team drops its “offensive” name.
On Wednesday, D.C. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio insisted that “There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, D.C., without first changing the team name,” the Washington Post reported.
D.C.’s Democrat non-voting representative in Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, also said that the team is not welcome in the District of Columbia unless it changes the name it has had for 87 years.
“I call on Dan Snyder once again to face that reality, since he does still desperately want to be in the nation’s capital,” Norton said. “He has got a problem he can’t get around — and he particularly can’t get around it today, after the George Floyd killing.”
U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, also said that he would block the team’s move to RFK Stadium, saying that the “racist nickname” makes a move a “non-starter.”
“The time [for the name] has ended,” Grijalva told the paper. “There is no way to justify it. You either step into this century, or you don’t. It’s up to the owner of the team to do that.”
Norton also insists that even if RFK stays in the hands of the federal government, there is no way the Redskins will be permitted to move to D.C. unless the team drops its name.
The proclamations come on the heels of a 2019 bill introduced by Norton calling on the federal government to sell the land upon which RFK Stadium sits to the D.C. City Council. That would allow D.C. officials, not the federal government, to decide how to develop the property and reap its benefits. The land is currently owned by the National Park Service but has been managed by the city through a deal that would give it such control until the year 2038.
But Norton insisted that the Redskins name “defiles some Americans,” and unless team owner Dan Snyder changes the name, the team will not be part of the future plans.
For her part, Democrat D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has done an about-face on the plans for RFK Stadium. Where she once was an enthusiastic supporter of bringing the team to D.C., now she is jumping on the name-change bandwagon.
“I think it’s past time for the team to deal with what offends so many people,” Bowser recently said. “And this is a great franchise with a great history that’s beloved in Washington. And it deserves a name that reflects the affection that we’ve built for the team.”
Despite his interest in RFK Stadium, Snyder is also mulling sites in National Harbor, Maryland (about 20 minutes from downtown D.C.), and Virginia’s Dulles corridor.
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