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Legislators in Virginia to delay vote on NFL stadium for Washington Commanders


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RICHMOND — The General Assembly will delay voting on laws meant to lure the Washington Commanders football team to Virginia, a key senator said Tuesday, signaling trouble for a plan that began the 12 months with broad bipartisan buy-in.

With legislators returning to the Capitol on Wednesday to vote on the state budget and other measures kicked right into a special session early this 12 months, Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said a pair of stadium bills won’t come to the ground as planned.

The delay won’t be the last word on the stadium effort generally and even the present laws, which Saslaw said will stay alive since the General Assembly won’t take the standard vote to conclude the special session Wednesday. That move will extend the session for an unspecified period.

However the delay suggests that the proposed taxpayer-subsidized stadium has grow to be a tougher sell in Richmond than in January, when a pair of bills emerged with powerful bipartisan support, and newly inaugurated Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) endorsed the thought in his first speech to the legislature.

While negotiators have worked since then to slash the dimensions of the state’s contribution — from an initial estimate of $1 billion to lower than $300 million — controversies have grown around team owner Daniel Snyder. Snyder has been accused of sexual misconduct and financial improprieties — allegations he denies.

“I feel we’ve still got some work to do, and the votes are probably close,” said Sen. Jeremy S. McPike (D-Prince William), who has raised questions on transportation issues around a possible location for the project in Woodbridge, where the team recently obtained an choice to buy land. “If it was ready, it’d be on a vote for tomorrow, but it surely’s not ready.”

Team president Jason Wright greeted the delay as a chance to advertise the project.

“We’re grateful for the bipartisan support the stadium authority laws has already received, and any additional time will definitely provide us with more opportunities to share how this project can create recent jobs, generate significant tax revenue, and spur economic development for surrounding communities and the Commonwealth as a complete,” Wright said in a press release.

The Commanders, who’re contractually obligated to play at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., until 2027, have been looking for a recent home for years in Virginia, Maryland and D.C.

Snyder wants to construct not only a recent stadium but a large industrial and residential complex that supporters call a “mini-city,” including a convention center, concert venue, hotels, restaurants and housing. Supporters have said the stadium and surrounding development would supply an incredible economic boost to the community where it’s built.

Saslaw and a robust Republican, House Appropriations Chairman Barry D. Knight (R-Virginia Beach), introduced bills to create a stadium authority to oversee construction and financing of the project. As originally proposed, the bills would have allowed the team to gather a share of state tax revenue generated by the stadium and the more expansive industrial development to finance construction of the stadium.

The Republican-controlled House of Delegates and the Democratic-led Senate passed separate bills in February by hefty, bipartisan margins.

But there have been concerns concerning the amount of tax revenue the state would forfeit, initially estimated at $1 billion. In March, negotiators attempting to smooth out differences within the bills said they might cap the state’s contribution at $350 million. They didn’t strike a deal before the legislature wrapped up its regular session that month, so the laws rolled right into a special session called primarily to finish work on the state budget.

Sen. Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford), one in all the negotiators, said last week that they planned to lower the cap again, to under $300 million. He also said that he expected the compromise bill to let the team have a share of revenue generated only from the stadium, not from the broader industrial development — an approach that Saslaw has embraced as a way of limiting the impact on strange taxpayers.

“For those who don’t ever attend a game otherwise you’re not an worker of the football team, not one penny of your taxes will ever go toward paying off that stadium. Not a penny,” Saslaw said. “Unless they’re a player or a coach or go to the stadium and buy something, there is just not a penny of their money in there.”

Saslaw was referring to state tax revenue. The locality where the stadium is built would have the choice to offer the team a break on local taxes, which might not apply toward the $300 million cap.

Although they proceed to explore locations in Maryland and D.C., the Commanders also acquired the precise to buy 200 acres in Prince William County for the project. Leaked slightly greater than per week before the General Assembly was expected to vote on the stadium bill Wednesday, the disclosure of the acquisition might have been intended to tug the measure over the finish line.

Some members of the General Assembly remained upbeat concerning the plan’s prospects last week, at the same time as Newman and Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) — for a few years the team’s most vocal cheerleader in Richmond — voiced doubts about it.

The Commanders and Snyder have been embroiled in scandal for much of the past two years amid allegations of sexual misconduct and financial impropriety, which have prompted investigations by the NFL and Congress, in addition to possibly the Federal Trade Commission. Last month, Attorneys General Karl A. Racine (D) of D.C. and Jason S. Miyares (R) of Virginia launched their very own probes of the team.

Sam Fortier contributed to this report.

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