RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Washington Redskins President Bruce Allen made clear Monday the team would not reconsider whether to change the team’s nickname if it became a political barrier to building a new stadium in the nation’s capital or elsewhere.
The club currently plays at FedEx Field — which opened in Landover, Maryland, in 1997 — and has started exploring sites for a new facility, even though its lease there runs until 2026.
At a news conference before Washington’s last practice of training camp Monday, Allen said the Redskinshave spoken with representatives of Washington, Virginia and Maryland about a spot for a stadium.
“We’ve had great conversations with all the areas, and the design is something that we’ve started on,” Allen said, “but really it is preliminary right now.”
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser in April that the National Park Service — which owns the land where the team’s former home, RFK Stadium, sits in the city — wouldn’t grant a new lease because of objections to the team’s name. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has said he will never change the nickname.
When asked Monday about the possibility of revisiting that policy if the name is a political barrier to a new location for the stadium, Allen quickly gave a one-word answer: “No.”
In reaction to Allen’s comment, the organization Change the Mascot released a statement criticizing the team .
“The team and its leaders are so obsessed with clinging to a dictionary-defined racial slur that they are willing to abandon their hometown and local fans in order to continue degrading Native Americans,” said Joel Barkin, spokesman for the grassroots campaign. “Now that Bruce Allen has been relieved of day-to-day responsibilities as general manager he must have a lot of free time on his hands to double down on this racist moniker and try to figure out what to do about Native Americans returning donations from the team. Unfortunately, Bruce Allen, team owner Dan Snyder and the Washington team fail to understand that you cannot buy acceptance of continued racism.
“The NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the other owners should immediately step forward now that the Washington team is publicly declaring its willingness to abandon Washington in order to retain its racial slur mascot.”
RFK Stadium sits on land owned by the National Park Service that is leased to the city. The lease expires in 22 years. The city would need an extension to build a new stadium there. Altering the lease would require an act of Congress, and the city could seek Congressional support for a change in the lease without the Park Service’s blessing.
On other topics:
— Allen said a drop in attendance in the team’s third year of training camp in Richmond could be attributed to the novelty wearing off and, he added, “I think it has a little to do with our performance of 4-12 last year.”
— Repeating a reporter’s question, Allen said: “How far away are we from winning? Depends how we do today on the practice field. We have a lot of work to do and we have three more preseason games to properly evaluate all the players.”
— New general manager Scot McCloughan is “doing exactly what we had hoped for,” Allen said. “He is a very consistent person in his approach and I think the entire personnel department has done a good job.”
— About signing outside linebacker Junior Galette despite off-field issues, Allen said: “We set out some very clear guidelines for him in what we expect out of Redskins players. He understands what he has done in the past and he’ll be held responsible for that. But it’s very clear what we expect of him. Is he a good football player? Yeah, he’s proven to be a good football player. But we really discussed our locker room more than anything.”