Virginia state senator Chap Petersen, who on Wednesday night released a statement declaring he does "not plan to support" Virginia's pursuit of the Washington Commanders and their new stadium, further explained on Thursday that his concern about the franchise having "no identity" is the reason for his lack of backing.
"The problem is the team has no brand," Petersen (D-Fairfax City) told 106.7 The Fan's BMitch & Finlay show in an interview. "You're asking the Commonwealth of Virginia to enter a long-term economic relationship with a team that, effectively, has no brand."
On Monday, the Commanders secured an option for the purchasing of land in Woodbridge that could act as the site of their next home on game days as well as a practice facility and other amenities like retail shopping and an entertainment venue.
But Peterson — who's been a fan of the organization dating back to the days of Billy Kilmer in the 1970s — believes the squad's recent rebrand, extended stretch of losing and negative media attention has sapped the club of the momentum and appeal it once possessed.
That's why he's made the transition from pro-stadium — a stance he once took — to anti-stadium.
"That legacy is not part of the current package anymore," Petersen said. "That's, to me, what makes it so difficult."
A bill supporting a potential home for the Commanders in the state is scheduled to be voted on next week and Petersen's public remarks against it indicate that its passing is a shaky proposition.
Should the legislation not be approved by June 1, it can't be picked up again until the next legislative session in 2023 — meaning the team would be without public financing for the building of its stadium from Virginia until at least early next year.
While on the radio, Petersen compared the status of the bill to an offense that's at the 40-yard line and lining up its receivers for a last-gasp scoring attempt.
"I'm here to make good decisions for the taxpayer," Petersen said. "If this is an economic win for the taxpayer, my personal opinion is irrelevant. But at this point, I'm not seeing the metrics."
For Petersen, the Nationals, Nationals Park and the surrounding Navy Yard neighborhood represent a strong mix of a winning operation, a place that's accessible for fans and an area that has a wealth of restaurants and other non-game related attractions to visit.
Yet when he thinks of the Commanders trying to execute something similar in Woodbridge, he just doesn't envision it working out due to the reasons he harped on during his interview: A faded brand, constant defeats and a dysfunctional way of doing business.
Those factors, plus a dearth of transportation choices to get to Woodbridge, are issues he can't get over.
"I look at a team that's been losing market share, I look at a team that's been trending down for years," Petersen said. "If the team was trending up, you'd just say whatever... But that's just not happening.
"Would it be almost more palatable to do this with an expansion franchise than the current franchise?" Petersen continued. "Let's face it, I think the answer to that may be yes."