Sunday, October 20, 2013

“Hail to the Redfins… Fight for Old P.G.!”

Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr
Let’s face it: the Washington Redskins may officially be DC’s football team, but their home stadium, FedEx Field, is in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Like any good hometown fans, we yearn for the team to be successful, as they were (finally) Sunday, with their 45-41 victory over the Chicago Bears.

But beyond the gridiron, the Skins and their owner, Dan Snyder, can make Prince George’s and the Washington region even prouder by (1) heeding the call to change the team’s offensive name, and (2) advocating for an inside-the-Beltway extension of the Purple Line to Alexandria, via FedEx Field.

Introducing the “Washington Redfins”!

Last week, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker joined the increasing chorus of public figures urging the Skins to change their name. “For me, if it’s offending anyone…I think you should consider changing the name,” he said. Baker’s comments echoed those of President Obama, who earlier this month said that he too would think about changing the team’s name.

Maryland Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards, whose district includes FedEx Field, has cosponsored legislation that would ban trademark protection for any name that includes the word “redskin” or any of its derivatives. Progressive media outlets are increasingly refusing to refer to the team by their official name. Even conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer believes it’s time to let the name go—not because of political correctness, but because common decency dictates the abandonment of a name that has become “tainted, freighted with negative connotations with which you would not want to be associated.”

Over the years, we have seen no shortage of suggestions for alternate names for Washington’s football team. Krauthammer and others prefer simply shortening the name to the “Skins,” which many people commonly do already. Another proposal, recently resurrected by PETA, is to keep the name “Redskins” but change the logo to a potato:

Image by PETA.

But who wants to root for a frigging spud?! We need a mascot that connotes power and might, one that evokes fear and trepidation in opponents—something exotic, yet familiar. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…the Washington Redfins!

As described by the New South Wales government in Australia, “Redfin are a popular sport fish…because of their fighting qualities and taste. However, they are also voracious predators of other fish and invertebrates…and can devastate native fish populations…. For these reasons, redfin are considered a serious pest and…a Class 1 noxious species in [the country].”

Image by New South Wales (Australia) government.

Talk about a fearsome little fish! Yet, they are sporty, they fight well, and they taste good. What more can we ask in a mascot? We could even keep the same fight song and tune, making only the simplest of modifications in the lyrics:
Hail to the Redfins. Hail, victory.
Pride of the Nation, [or, “Potomac war fish,”]
Fight for old D.C.!

Let’s say goodbye, once and for all, to the team’s current offensive moniker and start swimming with the mighty Redfins!

UPDATE (10/25/2013): Since posting this, The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson has joined the chorus of those urging a change in the team's name. Also, The Onion put out a stinging, epithet-charged piece attacking team owner Dan Snyder's insensitivity. And the Washington City Paper is reporting about a possible under-the-radar effort to rename the team the "Washington Bravehearts."

Making a Play for the Purple Line at FedEx Field

Another way that Prince George’s hometown football team can help itself and also be a good corporate citizen is by advocating for an inside-the-Beltway extension of the Purple Line from New Carrollton to Alexandria, via FedEx Field.

As currently planned, the Purple Line will run from Bethesda to New Carrollton, with 11 stops in Prince George’s County. However, county planners have already begun to think about possible extensions of the Purple Line that would go to National Harbor, and then across the transit-ready Wilson Bridge to Eisenhower Avenue or King Street Station in Alexandria.

The county’s 2009 Master Plan of Transportation recommended a feasibility study for an outside-the-Beltway Purple Line extension that would serve Largo Town Center, Prince George’s Community College, the proposed Westphalia Town Center development, Joint Base Andrews, Branch Avenue or Suitland Metro, and the Oxon Hill/National Harbor area.

In 2012, the county’s Transitway Systems Planning Study considered three potential alternative alignments for a Purple Line extension. One proposal (PLX1) had the line running primarily inside the Beltway. Two others (PLX2 and PLX3) proposed a largely outer-Beltway route. Interestingly, two of the proposed routes (PLX1 and PLX2) would have allowed the Purple Line to serve FedEx Field and Morgan Boulevard Metro Station on the Blue Line. Yet, the study ultimately favored the proposed outer-Beltway alignment that did not serve FedEx Field.

Earlier this summer, I proposed a fourth possible alignment for the Purple Line extension. This inner-Beltway route would serve Largo Town Center Metro, FedEx Field, Morgan Boulevard Metro, Penn/Mar Shopping Center, Branch Avenue Metro, Marlow Heights Shopping Center, and National Harbor/Oxon Hill before heading across the Wilson Bridge.

Image by Maryland Transit Administration.
It would be a tremendous demonstration of corporate leadership and responsibility if the newly-named Redfins were to advocate strongly with Prince George’s County and Maryland Transit Administration officials for a Purple Line extension to FedEx Field on an inner-Beltway alignment. Taking such a stand in favor of sustainable and transit-oriented development growth principles could be transformative for the county and beneficial to the team.

Instead of relying solely on parking revenues on game day, the Redfins owners could redevelop the vast ocean of surface parking at FedEx Field into a vibrant mixed-use community that produces income on a daily basis, and even more so on game days. Similarly, other owners of existing automobile-oriented commercial property along the proposed light rail route would be able to redevelop their aging commercial centers into more profitable, compact, and walkable urban places.

Step up to the scrimmage line, Mr. Snyder. Prince George’s County needs you in the game!


  1. How about bringing the casino operator (whichever) into the mix and proposing a joint venture with the football and casino management working together on this?

    Of course, if I had my way, and if Rushern Baker RALLY believed in TOD, he would have made casino-financed transit part of, and a pre-requisite for, the whole gambling deal.

    1. Diane, are you saying bring the casino + Purple Line to FedEx Field, to make it one joint entertainment venue? That would be interesting... But I think that might require going back to the Legislature. Didn't the original bill say it had to be within so many miles of Oxon Hill, or something?

  2. No, I'm saying make sure the Purple Line his both FedEx and the casino, wherever the latter ends up being.

    My preference would be Rosecroft, and only if the casino pays for all or most of:

    1. Rail transit to the casino, and
    2. Flyover (or under) ramps directly from the Beltway to the casino parking lot along with no or limited access from local streets.

    And if the taxpayers are forced to finance the transportation infrastructure, those taxpayers ought to get an appropriate equity interest in the gaming company and its profits.

    1. What do you see as the problem with National Harbor? They already have the space and infrastructure, and folks already want the Purple Line to go there. (To be clear, I don't want the facility anywhere in the county, but if it has to go somewhere, I didn't think NH was a bad option.)

    2. I rather see something at National Harbor that is more retail, office, or family oriented than another gambling site. We already have one gambling site at Rosecroft, so I'd keep the gambling there.

      You do know that the the ca. 2006-2008 Branch Avenue planning process discussed light rail along St. Barnabas?

      Fwiw, I remember how my family lived without a car from my earliest memories during the war and up until our first car about 1950 and how we went everywhere on the streetcar. .