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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 02/ 7/2011

Could Dan Snyder's lawsuit threaten Redskins' return to D.C.?

By Mike DeBonis

A recurring trope in District politics -- a meme, perhaps? -- is the idea of bringing the Washington Redskins back to the District of Columbia. Every few months, it seems, some city leader resurrects the notion.

The team's 1997 departure from RFK Stadium after years of stop-and-start-and-stop stadium negotiations has proven to be a blow to the civic psyche of epic proportions. Much like the "Lost Cause" mythology of the Civil War, there is a strain of D.C. political thought that the storied franchise's Landover exodus is a temporary condition and that the Redskins might indeed rise in the District again -- and soon, given the right circumstances.

Never mind that the Redskins are in a lease at FedEx Field until 2027 -- the thinking goes that Prince George's County would love to have the land it sits on to auction off to developers, and if the county's willing to break the lease, the RFK site is ripe for redevelopment, and ... you get the picture. And there's a very real Plan B: The Redskins hate having all their offices and practice facilities way out in Ashburn -- why not bring all of it into the city?

It might be more than idle talk: On Friday, The Post's Rick Maese reported that current team owner Daniel M. Snyder is "investigating the possibility" of relocating the Redskins training facility "to a new location, whether it's in Washington, it's in Maryland or in Virginia."

"It'd be as soon as we could get something done with either Washington or Maryland or Virginia," Snyder told Maese, adding, "It doesn't take long to build these."

But will the events of recent days prove to be a complication?

In case you missed it, Snyder is suing Washington City Paper reporter Dave McKenna, alleging libel in a chronicle of his many questionable business and football dealings. That moved has been accompanied by widespread public rebukes to Snyder for his allegedly bullying ways.

Some disclosure is immediately in order: I worked for Washington City Paper as recently as last May. McKenna is a friend, and, more than that, I edited his columns for nearly five years (several of which become the basis for items in his story).

That said, Snyder may become a political hot potato in a way that he was not one last week, and that may matter if he is in search of government incentives to lure the team (as he alludes to in his "get something done" comment). Not only has the lawsuit subjected Snyder to opprobrium, but McKenna's article includes several examples of instances in which Snyder has had contentious business relationships with local governments.

D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who is most active in promoting the notion that the Redskins soon could come back, says he is not concerned about Snyder's record.

"The city wants to bring the Redskins back to Washington. The people we have to do negotiations with are the person we have to do negotiations with," he said. "They'll be negotiating with a guy who built the Verizon Center, who built the convention center, who built the baseball stadium. I have a record of making these things happen. So I have no concerns."

Evans added that he's found Snyder to be "professional, courteous and friendly."

But Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) threw up some flags. He represents the area containing the ground zero of Redskins nostalgia -- RFK Stadium, which sits on a site that could some day host either a stadium or training facility.

He said today that he has been on the record opposed to government aid for Snyder's Redskins, and the City Paper affair only makes him more opposed.

"I had not seen Dan Snyder as really being a Washingtonian or really a contributing leader to the community with his stewardship of the team," he said. The lawsuit, he added, "continues to reaffirm a lack of sensitivity or connection with the city and its fans. There's a civic relationship between a city and its football team, and Mr. Snyder has done very little to nurture that. Now, he's done more to injure it."

By Mike DeBonis  | February 7, 2011; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  The District  
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Comments

The Landover Lease doesn't matter.

Snyder bails on agreements all the time - when it suits him best.

He left Frostburg State University and City, as soon as he realized he could charge 20 bucks per visotor to Redskins park - instead of paying 300K to the school on the lease agreement. (Making Snyder the first-ever owner to charge the faithful in pre-season).

Anyone who does business with this guy is running a fool's errand. And will get burned.

Posted by: tcs1999 | February 7, 2011 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I think before you try to come off as such a clever fellow you ought to try proof reading your own column. Your "lost cause" reference was just another example of trying to be so very clever.
This article is just another example of their not being anything to write about.
Snyder is going to do whatever makes the "skins worth the most. Period.
The District is going to do whatever they can to get the team to return.
Within political boundaries.
This lawsuit only helps draw temporary attention to Snyder showing him for the rat he is. Memories are short and feelings toward Snyder won't be that different in the coming years. He's not a nice guy. What's new?

Posted by: mgginva | February 7, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Weasel Stew

Read this Steve Coll blog from 2009(!) about his beloved Redskins under The Little Price's regime:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/stevecoll/2009/10/monday-night-football.html

Posted by: IMshort | February 7, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Why is a DC councilmember --Tommy Wells-- speaking in defense of The City Paper?

Free of Speech doesn't give you the Free to Defame! City Paper is in the habit of crafting erroneous news stories to get a knee jerk reaction! They pissed on the wrong tepee this time! GO Dan Snyder!!!!

Posted by: GoldCoast | February 8, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

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