Roberto Williams could hardly contain his excitement with the prospect of seeing an amphitheater, sports and entertainment facilities being built and beautifying Metro’s Blue Line corridor in Prince George’s County communities like his inside the Beltway.
“The development can’t start soon enough as far as I’m concerned,” said Williams, who has lived at the Residences at Victory Promenade in Landover, less than a mile away from FedEx Field, since 2012.
“I really think this general area will be great for mid-county and just a real opportunity and secondary only to [National] Harbor. I’m excited.”
Part of his glees stems from a $400 million investment for the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue bonds to refurbish, construct and open sports and entertainment facilities in the county.
More specifically, the projects will augment communities inside the Beltway along Metro’s four Blue Line stations that include Largo, Morgan Boulevard, Addison Road-Seat Pleasant and Capitol Heights.
The plans include a library/cultural center, sports fieldhouse, a plaza, market hall and residences.
None of the money will be used to help construct a new stadium at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Commanders that remains under contract through 2027. Morgan Boulevard, the closest station to the stadium, sits about a mile away.
“We’re not building a stadium for that team and I said, ‘good luck if they want to go to Virginia,’” Gov. Larry Hogan said last week while touting the project at Largo Town Center Metro station.
“[County Executive] Angela Alsobrooks and I came together and said, ‘We are going to do a lot to redevelop this community with or without the football team.’ That’s what we’ve done here,” he said.
Gregory Holmes, a business consultant of Upper Marlboro, said one major item state and local officials haven’t mentioned remains the inclusion of Black businesses on the project.
The state of Maryland’s goal for Minority Business Enterprise [MBE] firms to receive contracts on various projects remains at 29%.
“I don’t think meeting the 29% goal on this project is too lofty of a goal. Black businesses and Black developers should be a part of that success,” said Holmes, who launched and chairs Maryland Black Businesses Matter and plans to run for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District that includes FedEx Field.
“The dollars [state and county officials] are floating is taxpayer money,” he said. “You are going to give taxpayer money and not let the taxpayers benefit from our own money. That is an injustice if that is allowed to happen.”
Commanders to Stay or Go?
Speculation continues on whether the Washington Commanders will remain in the county or if they will construct a new stadium across the Woodrow Wilson bridge in neighboring Virginia. The team’s headquarters and practice facility are located in Ashburn, Virginia.
The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee continues to investigate the Commanders alleged “toxic workplace culture” led by team owner Daniel Snyder.
The committee sent a letter April 12 to the Federal Trade Commission that the team possibly committed financial improprieties by withholding up to $5 million in refunds from season ticket holders and concealed ticket sales not shared with the National Football League [NFL].
The allegations are made by Jason Friedman, a former sales executive who worked for the team for 24 years and who began as an intern under the late owner Jack Kent Cooke.
“Given the Federal Trade Commission’s [FTC] authority to investigate unfair or deceptive business practices, we are providing the information and documents uncovered by the Committee for your review, to determine if the Commanders violated any provision of law enforced by FTC and whether further action is warranted,” the committee letter said. “We request that you take any other action you deem necessary to ensure that all funds are returned to their rightful owners and that those responsible are held accountable for their conduct.”
The team’s lawyer, Jordan W. Siev, responded to the FTCs letter on Monday, April 18 with an 18-page letter as part of more than 100 pages of documents that summarizes Friedman as a “disgruntled former employee,” according to NBC Sports.
Siev’s letter mentions Friedman’s dismissal happened due to “professional conduct” in October 2020, after which sought to retain his job in January.
“The Committee’s Letter is based on the testimony solely of a disgruntled, lying former employee without knowledge of the facts,” Live wrote. “The Team was never asked for any input on the allegations before they were made public. We hope that this letter is of assistance to you in reaching the only outcome that we believe is fair and appropriate here – there is no basis for an investigation. We would of course be pleased to provide you with additional information.”
Meanwhile, some residents said they’re pleased the state will invest money to refurbish areas around the Metro stations but want the Commanders to remain in Landover.
“There are jobs for the people there who live in the community,” said Tiffany Quzack-White, 38, of Largo, who conducts janitorial services for Didlake, headquartered in Manassas, Virginia. “That will be jobs gone and an empty lot. The Commanders should stay.”
It doesn’t matter to Williams, who lives near the stadium, whether the team stays or leaves.
“I’m not a huge football person,” he said. “If [the Commanders] decide to stay in the sports and entertainment corridor that will be coming to downtown Largo, great. The county executive and delegates are making a great investment in the area regardless.”