The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium can be seen in this aerial photo taken over Washington, DC on November 4, 2019.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jason Wright, the new president of Washington’s soccer team, will begin his role on Monday with his initial business strategies to mend the club's damaged culture in need of repair from top to bottom.
Head coach Ron Rivera will take over the football team, while Wright will oversee business operations and help determine the club's new name and logo. Wright will also face what he calls "a beast" – team owner Dan Snyder to deliver his new stadium.
"The clock is ticking," Wright said in an interview with CNBC last week. "This is a big undertaking and an economic engine not only for the club, but for the entire region."
Wright's attitude has earned praise throughout the National Football League, and he is well aware of the task he faces in repairing the Washington football team. And he will do so as the first black team president in the league.
Wright also admitted that he "has never done anything this complex" when talking about the new stadium. He has experience in government affairs, but also has to use what NFL manager Troy Vincent calls "stadium economics" or ticket sales, suite expansion and more.
"All of those things that were about how to see a stadium project," said Vincent, the NFL vice president of football operations.
"It's important to understand how all of these things relate to make sure you have viable public ownership because that is exactly what it is; because you have public partnerships," added Vincent.
Source: Washington Football Team
Politics as usual
Vincent praised Wright for his ability to "electroplate people". These skills will be vital as he has to be an excellent ambassador in repairing Snyder's damaged product.
Wright will also move through two government offices, however, as the team was ambitious to return to their old playground at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, DC.
The stadium is slated to be demolished in 2021, and the new location would be better suited for Snyder's team, who are currently playing at FedEx Field in Maryland. Although Snyder took over the stadium when he bought the team for $ 800 million in 1999, a lease with the state and Prince George & # 39; s County will keep the soccer team at FedEx Field until 2027.
Former team president Bruce Allen brought the ball to the new 60,000-seat stadium, which RFK was able to mimic, where the team played from 1961 to 1996.
The land that RFK occupies is owned by the US Department of the Interior and is located in the District of Columbia. Wright must use his skills and connections to appease local and federal government officials and complete construction.
"He's going to make a living," said Ed Tapscott, past president of the National Basketball Association's Charlotte franchise and current advisor to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Tapscott was responsible for overseeing a $ 270 million budget to build what was then the Charlotte Bobcats Arena, now known as the Spectrum Center. He said Wright had to steer the political side, but funding the stadium would be another challenge.
The Washington soccer team could work with city officials to raise local government bonds to fund the new stadium. Still, it will most likely need to secure a significant portion of private funding, as raising public funds is challenging, especially as Covid-19 continues to damage the country's economy.
In order for Tapscott to complete its project, Charlotte created bonds that were covered by a 1% visitor tax on hotels and rental cars.
"There were no local taxes. Nobody had to take money from schools. Potholes were not threatened," he said. "People who visited the state of North Carolina helped fund this arena."
In addition to a lease to build the RFK site, the team could also please city officials with a new tax on various sources of income from the stadium. The funds raised to DC Tapscott are referred to as an "operation payment," reminiscent of the Charlotte Arenas food and beverage tax that went to the state.
An exterior view of FedExField prior to a game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 21, 2018 in Landover, Maryland.
Patrick McDermott | Getty Images
But Snyder & # 39; s isn't the most popular sports owner in DC, which makes raising public funds even harder. NFL owner Stan Kroenke only used private funds to build his dream stadium. It's a trend that Bill Squires, an expert in sports and entertainment facilities, is set to continue.
"Building a stadium with public dollars is more of a challenge," said Squires, advisor to the New York Giants and Jets on the construction of the $ 1.6 billion MetLife stadium in New Jersey, which was also privately funded.
"The name change was extremely important for the politicians," he said. "It will be interesting to see how it is funded."
The path of private funding could also include a loan from the NFL's G4 program, which spends around $ 250 million. The team may also enter into another naming rights agreement to pay the stadium's debt on a loan after the current contract with FedEx expires in 2025.
The team can also install licenses for personal seating, where consumers pay an on-time fee to build the stadium. This is the option that most NFL clubs choose as public funds become scarcer.
"I think he's making some good moves with [Wright's] attitude and with the name change," Squires said of Snyder. "People will want to be more involved with the team than they have in the past."
Washington owner Daniel Snyder stood on the sidelines before a game against the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field in 2019.
Jonathan Newton | The Washington Post | Getty Images
End of the journey
Wright has to decide how much of Allen's plan is to keep and eliminate the parts that do not fit his vision. He is aware of the "things that have to happen" above, but wants the capital to "flow in and out of this stadium – to all businesses of all types and to all communities of all types".
Wright said he wanted to create ways to "maximize the value that can be gained from this stadium beyond matchday."
Real estate development around the new complex will be of vital importance as there will be limited uses of outdoor stadiums alongside NFL games and possibly a rare extravagant concert or other non-sporting event.
And if Wright can get it all done by the 2027 season – on time and on budget – the storybook could really end on Snyder's "incredible journey" and bring the Washington soccer team back to Washington DC.
At this point, Snyder's legacy of sporting ownership, with the support of the first black president in the NFL, could be complete.