Politics standing in the way of Redskins’ stadium lease

The Redskins previously played at RFK Stadium in Washington

(AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The National Park Service won’t grant the District of Columbia a new lease for the site of the Washington Redskins’ old stadium in part because Interior Secretary Sally Jewell opposes the team’s name.

Jewell reiterated that position during a meeting in late April with Mayor Muriel Bowser, Interior Department spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said.

Bowser’s administration has been in preliminary talks with the Redskins about moving the team back to Washington and building a new stadium. The team currently plays its home games at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, but the Redskins’ lease there expires in 2026.

“Secretary Jewell has been clear that she considers the Washington football team’s name a relic of the past and believes it should be changed,” Kershaw said.

22News asked western Massachusetts residents how they felt about the topic. The ones we talked to didn’t seem to mind the name.

Dan Coles of Springfield said, “The political correctness is getting a little too out of control. But then, I’m not a Native American.”

Louis Fiore of Chicopee said, “That name’s been in sports for years. What difference does it make? He thinks it’s like, derogatory, or something.”

The Redskins previously played at RFK Stadium in Washington. The 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. Kershaw said the department has not received a specific proposal to extend or modify the lease and that any such proposal would be evaluated on its merits.

It’s unlikely the Redskins lease of the RFK Stadium property is a high priority for the Obama administration, which has 18 months left.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press

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