Virginia lawmakers reject efforts to tie football stadium deal to COs investigation

Virginia lawmakers drafting legislation that could help bring a Washington Commanders football stadium to Northern Virginia have resisted several attempts to tie the deal to investigations into the conduct of team owner Dan Snyder.

A congressional committee has urged the National Football League to do more to hold the franchise accountable after several women complained about a toxic work culture, including Testimony at the Capitol of a former team employee who says Snyder sexually harassed her at a work dinner. Snyder denied the accusation, but the NFL said it would launch a new independent investigation after failing to fully disclose the results of an earlier investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson.

The new developments have fueled speculation over whether Snyder could be forced to sell the team, a possibility that Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, spoke on the floor of the House of Delegates on Monday as he spoke against a bill create a new state authority to help finance the construction of a stadium. The bill passed the House in a 62-37 vote on Monday, and a different version appears likely to pass the state Senate later this week.

On Friday, Simon tried to insert Language claiming the bill would not take effect until the NFL releases the results of Wilkinson’s earlier investigation and produces 2,100 documents requested by the United States House Oversight and Reform Committee.

“We need to know what happened, what type of sexual misconduct took place at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia. We need to know what happened to these women,” Simon said. “…All this amendment does is say the authority can’t move forward until we get transparency and we know who we’re going to be dealing with.”

Simon’s amendment failed on a 46-51 voteswith almost all Democrats joining it and almost all Republicans opposing it.

A spokesperson for the commanders did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Of the. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, the sponsor of the bill, said the details of the legislation will be worked out over the next few weeks, leaving plenty of time for the General Assembly to react if the need arises. .

“I’m pretty confident we have this report coming from the NFL,” Knight said. “If anything is found in there then it will likely be a civil or criminal proceeding and it will go through the courts.”

A similar effort met the same fate in a Democratic-led Senate committee last week when Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, suggested an amendment to demand transparency in team culture investigations.

“When you’re going into business with a billionaire and you’re giving up a billion dollars in tax revenue, I just think it’s appropriate to do your due diligence rather than watch it go month after month, week after week, year after year,” Ebbin said, referring to a plan to allow tax revenue from the stadium’s potential development to repay up to $1 billion in bonds issued by the proposed authority.

Ebbin’s amendment failed without a recorded vote after no one else on the Senate Finance Committee moved a second to his proposed motion.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, one of the main sponsors of the Senate Stadium Billsaid he had no problem with the NFL looking into the allegations against Snyder.

“But that has no place in this bill,” he told the committee.

Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, agreed, saying he felt it would be ‘totally inappropriate’ for the legislature to start getting involved in investigations into potential business partners. .

Senator Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, who helped form the General Assembly “Redskins Pride Caucus” in 2014 to defend the team’s old name, said lawmakers should focus only on the details of the potential stadium deal.

“We didn’t investigate Jeff Bezos when we made a deal with Amazon,” he said. “We haven’t investigated anyone. It is a commercial operation. »

The Commanders, who unveiled their new team name this month after two seasons as Washington’s football team, are scheduled to play at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland until 2027. For years, the team explored possible options for a new stadium in Virginia, Maryland and DC

Passing Virginia’s bill would not guarantee a stadium in Virginia, and details of the state’s offer to the team likely won’t be finalized until later in the legislative session.

Saslaw said the development envisioned during discussions with the team is “almost a mini-city”, with a stadium surrounded by other amenities like hotels, restaurants and a concert hall.

“They are no longer building stadiums surrounded by huge parking lots,” he said during the committee hearing last week. “They become entertainment complexes.”

Over a 30-year lease, he said, the planned development would generate about $153 million a year in tax revenue. Of that amount, Saslaw said, $60 million would go to the state, $59 million to local government and $34 million to the authority to help repay the bond financing.

There would be no tax hikes to pay for a stadium, he said, and taxpayers would not be required to repay bonds if the deal did not go as planned.

“The state does not guarantee the bonds,” Saslaw said. “It’s prohibited in the bill.”

Both versions of the bill allow the team to appoint four members to the nine-member board of authority.

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