HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Nothing makes a public official happier than to see a private company invest millions of dollars into his jurisdiction.
So Governor Terry McAuliffe was only too happy to smile and pose for pictures with Lesa France Kennedy, the CEO of International Speedway Corporation after she announced her company was putting $30 million into Richmond Raceway to help improve one of the Commonwealth’s premier tourist destinations.
The state did chip in $150,000 to the project, but that is a minimal taxpayer investment compared to the overall cost and the tax revenue generated by the Raceway, a figure McAuliffe estimates is $87 million annually.
It’s a formula McAuliffe hopes can work in enticing the Redskins to build a new stadium inside the Commonwealth. FedEx field is 20 years old and currently sits just outside Landover, Maryland. In this day and age, 20 years is approaching middle aged status for stadiums and McAuliffe is courting the team to relocate their gameday home closer to their organizational home in Ashburn, Va.
How he hopes to do that without using taxpayer dollars is to follow what worked at the Raceway and for the new football stadium being built in Los Angeles for the Rams and Chargers: use private money for the structure but give the team and it’s owners developmental rights in the immediate area around a new stadium.
“That’s why I think, ultimately, the Redskins will be in Virginia” McAuliffe said at the Richmond Raceway announcement. “There’s no development area in D.C. to do it. Maryland, they don’t want to be there so ultimately I think they will come to the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
While the Redskins won a recent legal battle for the trademark rights to their name, D.C. Council member David Grosso and Maryland Delegate David Moon have both publicly said they oppose any taxpayer money going towards a new stadium for the team in their locales if their nickname isn’t changed.
Some public money would likely have to be used, or public land possibly donated for any new stadium project, but McAuliffe believes that future development rights would more than make up for whatever might have to be spent from the public coffers. At least he hopes that makes his deal the most desirable for Daniel Snyder and the Redskins.
“That’s how these sports teams go forward” McAuliffe said.
Where they go forward is still to be determined.