ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland House of Delegates approved a $400 million plan Wednesday to construct sports and entertainment venues in Prince George’s County.
The money, which would come from the Maryland Stadium Authority through the state lottery, seeks to spruce up the vicinity along Metro’s Blue Line corridor in the county and area around FedEx Field in Landover, home of the Washington Commanders. Morgan Boulevard serves as the closest Metrorail station to the stadium.
The money wouldn’t be used to help build a new stadium, which remains under contract through 2027.
The stadium property situated inside the Beltway in the 24th Legislative District includes municipalities and neighborhoods such as Glenarden, Capitol Heights and Lake Arbor.
Del. Jazz Lewis (D-District 24) of Glenarden stressed the state “was never going to build anything for a billionaire.” That billionaire would be Commanders owner Daniel Snyder.
“We were going to do what we thought was in our best interest and I think this gives us the flexibility to ensure the commitment to my district is there regardless of what the team does,” he said. “I would love for [the Commanders] to stay, but I got what I needed from the state of Maryland.”
According to amendments approved Tuesday, a major sporting event doesn’t include a “professional football game except for the Super Bowl, or an exhibition or championship game for an organization other than the National Football League.”
Proposed events include a parade, carnival, festival and concert.
The legislation now goes across the hall inside the State House to the Senate.
However, the Senate has until midnight Monday because that’s the final day of the 90-day legislative session known as “Sine Die.”
Lawmakers such as Del. Faye Martin Howell (D-District 24) of Landover remain confident the project will get approval.
“It should bring a lot of jobs. It should bring some pride in having something really good in your district,” she said. “This venture is a big deal. I think it will give the inner Beltway people a sense of pride and that’s what we need.”
State Sen. Obie Patterson (D-District 26) announced Wednesday he doesn’t plan to seek reelection this year.
Patterson, 84, was elected in 2018. Prior to coming to Annapolis, he served on Prince George’s County Council from 2010 to 2018. He’s familiar with the state capitol because he served as a state delegate from 1995 to 2007.
He co-sponsored several pieces of legislation this year, including a bill limiting co-pays to $30 for insulin.
In what he said is one of his proudest moments as state senator, Patterson sponsored legislation to make the state mark the fourth Thursday in March as “Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day.” It passed the House and Senate and to the governor’s desk for his signature.
“I feel extremely blessed to work with so many great leaders from all corners of our great state,” said Patterson, who plans to sleep late, travel, work in his garden and help campaign for other candidates. “It has truly been the greatest opportunity one could ever ask for as a public servant.”
As of Wednesday, four people filed documents with the state elections board to run for the seat. The three Democrats are former Sen. C. Anthony Muse, the Rev. Charles McNeill Jr. and Tamara Davis Brown. Ike Puzon is the only Republican.
Voters in the legislative district in the area known as “South County” will also elect a new state delegate with Del. Jay Walker (D-District 26) of Fort Washington choosing to step down.
One of his signature pieces of legislation he continues to pursue deals with the state board of education incorporating a half-credit course on financial literacy for high school students.
He also presented legislation this year to rename Route 210, also known as Indian Head Highway, to Piscataway Highway in honor of the Piscataway Native American tribe.
Both bills received unanimous approval in the House but remain under discussion in two Senate committees.
Walker, 50, will continue his career as a sports commentator for college football and will begin college baseball later this month.
Marylanders may also see him on the campaign trail alongside his wife, former Prince George’s County Council member Monique Anderson-Walker, who’s a running mate for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Franchot, the current state comptroller.
“I had some good memories and good debates. I’m trying to take it all in and not take it for granted,” Walker said Wednesday. “It’s time to move on.”
Six Democrats filed paperwork to seek one of the three delegate seats for District 26.
Dels. Veronica Turner and Kris Valderrama are seeking reelection for two of the seats. The other four people are Antwan C. Brown, Angela R. Jones, Andre Nottingham and Kendal Wade.