Thursday, December 8, 2022

Nearly half of Washingtonians don’t like Commanders name, Post poll finds

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Of the three names the staff has had since 1933, a 43 % plurality of D.C. residents say they like Washington Football Team, in contrast with 26 % who favor the Commanders and 22 % who say they like the Redskins. Five % say they favor one other title, and one other 5 % haven’t any opinion.

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For many years, Washington’s title was denounced and even elicited protests from those that thought Redskins was racist and insensitive to Native Americans. Owner Daniel Snyder, who bought the staff in 1999, insisted repeatedly he would “never” change the title. But in the summertime of 2020, because the broader nationwide dialogue about race intensified and after many of Washington’s high sponsors threatened to chop ties with the staff over its title, it retired the Redskins title and brand and introduced it might be the Washington Football Team till it discovered its new long-term id.

The Commanders title and brand had been formally revealed Feb. 2. The Post poll is the primary formal survey of native residents because the announcement and captures Washington’s preliminary response to the staff title. It was based mostly on a random pattern of 904 D.C. residents and was carried out between Feb. 2 and Feb. 14 over landlines and cellphones. The general margin of error is plus or minus 4 proportion factors.

“There are plenty of people who will say, ‘I’ll get used to it,’ ” mentioned Grant Paulsen, a number on 106.7 the Fan in D.C. “That’s about the most positive I’ve heard. I don’t know that anyone loves it as a name. But you do get plenty of people who say, ‘Whatever, it’s a name; they’re all weird.’ The name Dolphins or the name Packers was weird at one point. Eventually, this won’t be weird.”

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As the Commanders kicked off a brand new period, the staff was met with renewed curiosity from native officers, who two years earlier dangled a brand new stadium as a carrot for a reputation change.

Virginia’s House and Senate are engaged on legislative payments to lure the staff to the commonwealth, with $1 billion in bonds to assist finance a brand new stadium. Maryland lawmakers are forming a proposal to attempt to hold the Commanders in Landover, with a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of {dollars} probably earmarked for improvement round FedEx Field. And D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has publicly urged a return to the District.

But when requested about utilizing metropolis funds to assist finance a soccer stadium for the Commanders, 67 % of D.C. residents mentioned they’d oppose it whereas 30 % say they’d be in favor.

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“I think the biggest reaction would be: ‘Daniel Snyder just bought a $50 million home. Why does he need taxpayers’ money?’ ” mentioned John-Paul Flaim, a co-host on 106.7 the Fan’s morning present, “The Sports Junkies.”

A 2019 citywide Post poll discovered that whereas practically 6 in 10 D.C. residents supported the staff constructing a brand new stadium on the RFK web site, which is owned by the federal authorities, it additionally discovered {that a} clear majority of residents opposed town financing the stadium or constructing the stadium in any respect.

“We are not — and I would not suggest — that we finance a stadium,” Bowser mentioned this month. She proposes town tackle a deal much like its partnership with D.C. United throughout the building of Audi Field, during which “we would get access to the land, prepare the land, and the team would have to fund and build their own stadium.”

In 2019, 39 % of D.C. residents supported offering land for a brand new soccer stadium, whereas 19 % opposed offering land and one other 33 % opposed the brand new stadium fully. D.C. residents additionally opposed offering funding to D.C. United in 2008 (60 %) and 2014 (59 %).

Although a lot of the early dialog round a brand new soccer stadium has centered on location — the District, Maryland or Virginia — Kevin Davis, a 56-year-old resident in Ward 4, mentioned his priorities are accessibility, the price to attend video games and the financing to construct a stadium.

“The public dole shouldn’t be used to subsidize billionaires, and that’s what generally happens with stadiums,” Davis mentioned. “You end up floating bonds, and it’s the taxpayers that pay for it. Otherwise, extremely rich men hold cities hostage and say, ‘We’re going to move.’ ”

Current opposition to financing a brand new soccer stadium is far bigger than the opposition to utilizing metropolis funds to assist finance a baseball stadium in 2002 (47 % opposed). But town financing of Nationals Park, which opened in 2008, is extra common in hindsight, with a 2014 poll discovering that 72 % of residents mentioned it was a “good investment.”

“Nationals Park is the ultimate success story as far as I’m concerned,” mentioned Danny Rouhier, a lifelong D.C. resident and a number on 106.7 the Fan. “I don’t think the same criteria are going to apply to a football stadium from a guy with Dan Snyder’s track record. So I would love for it to be in Washington, D.C. — this is my home, and I love it here — but I don’t want taxpayers, including myself, to spend a single cent.”

Team officials said much of the 18-month rebranding process was devoted to research and legal sleuthing, trying to settle on a name that had significance to the fan base and one that wasn’t already trademarked. Commanders President Jason Wright, who led the team’s rebranding efforts, said its research revealed an “overwhelmingly positive” nationwide response to the brand new title, but he additionally has acknowledged many of the staff’s “core fans” — in D.C. and past — opposed any kind of change.

“Within our core fans, it’s been mixed, and the context is that 80 percent of those fans didn’t want the name to be changed in the first place,” he said in an interview the day after the name reveal.

Kevin Sheehan a longtime sports talk radio host in D.C. currently on WTEM (980 AM), said he believes many fans have “checked out” because of the team’s persistent losing and scandal. For those who have hung around, the switch to Commanders may have been a bit jarring.

“I think the last two years have felt very interim and temporary,” he said. “The old name was gone, but there was nothing out there to kind of reinforce the reality that it was gone.”

Rebecca Silva, who lives in Ward 3, said she understood why the team needed to get rid of the Redskins name but said she liked Washington Football Team because it had a “cool, classic sounding name.” Others weren’t as sold on the temporary name.

“Calling it the Washington Football Team, I thought, was a cop-out,” Davis said. “It showed a lack of imagination. The Commanders is a fine name. They probably could’ve come up with something better, but they certainly had a chance to do worse.”

As the Commanders begin to look even further into the future with discussions about a new stadium, many fans continually come back to the same gripes: The team has been embroiled in more investigations and scandals than it has had playoff appearances during Snyder’s ownership.

The NFL is investigating allegations of sexual harassment against Snyder that were made this month by Tiffani Johnston, a former marketing manager and cheerleader for the team. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating the team’s workplace culture, which was previously investigated by Beth Wilkinson, a D.C. attorney.

Fan interest has waned, and the team’s average attendance at FedEx Field was among the league’s worst last season.

“The numbers, whether it’s the attendance or the television ratings, are really reflective of just how much this fan base has left,” Sheehan said. “… We see it every Sunday. In many ways, it’s become Jacksonville.”

Flaim believes there’s no separating negative feelings about the name change or potential city funding for a stadium from the mounting fan frustrations over the past two decades. “Nobody believes it’s going to be a home run because of the track record under Daniel Snyder,” he said.

Yet with time, Flaim conceded, the brand new title will finally develop on followers.

“Winning cures all,” he said. “I do think two or three years from now people will be fine with Commanders.”

Scott Clement contributed to this report.

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