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Obama Admin. Won’t Let Redskins Return to D.C. Unless They Change Name

The Obama administration is blocking attempts by the city of Washington, D.C. to lure the NFL Washington Redskins back into the District of Columbia from FedEx Stadium in suburban Maryland. The move would require an extension of the city’s lease on land owned by the federal government. But, the administration doesn’t want to extend the lease because they don’t like the team’s name.

The Redskins played in RFK Stadium in D.C. until 1996 when they moved to Maryland. After 18 years, the team is looking to make a move:

FedEx Field, in Prince George’s County, a stadium that is only 18 years old but that the team is trying to vacate before its lease there expires in 2026. Team officials, citing fan complaints about the stadium’s configuration, have removed seats from FedEx three times in five years.

It would be a big win for D.C. to build a new stadium on the grounds of the RFK and lure the team back. This is a complicated process because, while the city owns the stadium, the National Parks Service owns the land under the stadium; the city’s lease runs on the land runs out in only twenty-two years, not long enough to make it worth building a new stadium.

According to the Washington Post, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had inquired with Park Service officials about extending the District’s lease for the RFK property to allow for a new stadium – but, the discussion didn’t go well.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser this spring that the National Park Service, which owns the land beneath Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, was unlikely to accommodate construction of a new stadium for the Redskins unless the team changes its name.

The name of the football team has been a big issue for Jewell since she took office in 2013. This past April, she was interviewed by ABC News and admitted the team’s name was a bigger issue for her than it was for the Native American community:

“Personally, I think we would never consider naming a team the ‘Blackskins’ or the ‘Brownskins’ or the ‘Whiteskins.’ So, personally, I find it surprising that in this day and age, the name is not different,” Jewell, who heads the department that includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs, told ABC News’ David Kerley when asked whether the name should be changed.


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