Virginia lawmakers postpone NFL stadium vote for Washington leaders

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The main senator said, on Tuesday, that the General Assembly will postpone a vote on legislation aimed at attracting the Washington captains’ soccer team to Virginia, in a sign of a problem with a plan that began the year with broad bipartisan approval.

As lawmakers return to the Capitol on Wednesday to vote on the state budget and other measures brought up in a special session early this year, Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslow (D-Fairfax) said a pair of stadium bills would not go ahead. Put them on the ground. As planned.

And the postponement won’t be the final word on the stadium’s overall effort or even the current legislation, which Saslaw said would survive because the General Assembly would not take the usual vote to conclude Wednesday’s special session. This step will extend the session for an indefinite period.

But the delay suggests that the proposed taxpayer-backed stadium is much tougher in Richmond than it was in January, when a pair of bills emerged with strong bipartisan support and newly inaugurated Governor Glenn Yongkin (right) backed the idea in his speech the first. to the legislature.

While negotiators have since worked to reduce the size of the state’s contribution — from an initial estimate of $1 billion to less than $300 million — disagreements have grown over team owner Daniel Snyder. Snyder has been charged with sexual misconduct and financial misconduct – allegations he denies.

Senator Jeremy S McBayke (De Prince William), who has raised questions about transportation issues about a potential site for the project in Woodbridge where the team was recently They had the option to buy land. “If it is ready, it will be voted on tomorrow, but it is not ready.”

Team Leader Jason Wright welcomed the delay as an opportunity to promote the project.

“We are grateful for the bipartisan support that the stadium authority legislation has already received, and any additional time will certainly provide us with more opportunities to share how this project can create new jobs, generate significant tax revenue, and spur economic development for surrounding communities,” Wright said in a statement.

The leaders, contractually obligated to play at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. , until 2027, have been shopping for a new home for years in Virginia, Maryland and DC.

Snyder wants to build not just a new stadium but also a massive commercial and residential complex that proponents call a “small town,” including a convention center, concert venue, hotels, restaurants and residences. Supporters said the stadium and the development around it would provide a massive economic boost to the community in which it was built.

Knight (R-Va), a staunch Republican, House Appropriations Chair, introduced bills to create a stadium authority to oversee construction and project financing. As originally proposed, the bills would have allowed the team to collect a share of the state tax revenue generated by the stadium and more extensive commercial development to fund construction of the stadium.

The Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate passed separate bills in February by huge bipartisan margins.

But there were concerns about how much tax revenue the state would lose, initially estimated at $1 billion. And in March, negotiators trying to calm differences on the bills said they would cap the state’s contribution at $350 million. They failed to strike a deal before the legislature concluded its regular session that month, so the legislation entered a special session that called in the first place to complete work on the state budget.

Senator Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford), one of the negotiators, said last week that they Planning to lower the cap againto less than $300 million. He also said he expected the compromise bill would allow the team to take a share of revenue generated only from the stadium, and not from broader commercial development – an approach that Saslaw has embraced as a way to limit the impact on ordinary taxpayers.

“If you don’t attend a game or you are not an employee of the football team, not a penny of your taxes will be paid to pay that stadium. Not a penny,” Saslow He said. “Unless it’s a player or a coach or they go out on the field and buy something, there’s not a penny of their money there.”

Saslaw was referring to state tax returns. The district in which the stadium is built will have the option to give the team a relief from local taxes, which would not apply to the $300 million cap.

Although they continued to explore locations in Maryland and DC, the leaders also gained The right to purchase 200 acres in Prince William County for the project. Leaked just over a week before the General Assembly voted on the stadium bill on Wednesday, the disclosure of the acquisition could have been aimed at dragging the measure over the finish line.

Some members of the General Assembly remained optimistic about the plan’s prospects last week, even as Newman and Senator Cheb Petersen (Fairfax City Democrat) – for many years the team’s biggest fan in Richmond – expressed skepticism about it.

Leaders and Snyder have been embroiled in scandal for most of the past two years amid allegations of sexual misconduct and financial misconduct, which has led to investigations by the NFL and Congress, as well as possibly the Federal Trade Commission. Last month, Attorney Generals Carl A. Racine (D) and Jason S. Millais (R) of Virginia They unleashed their own tentacles from the team.

Sam Fortier contributed to this report.