No ground will break in D.C. to build a new stadium for the Washington pro football team unless its antiquated name is changed – that is, if the Obama administration has anything to say about it.
Speaking with Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser last April, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said it is unlikely the Obama administration would accommodate construction on a new stadium so long as the team keeps its current name, Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post reported.
Since her appointment two years ago, Jewell has reiterated President Barack Obama’s opposition to the team’s use of a dictionary-defined racial slur, adding that she believes the word is a “relic of the past.”
“Personally, I think we would never consider naming a team the ‘Blackskins’ or the ‘Brownskins’ or the ‘Whiteskins.’ So, personally, I find it surprising that in this day and age, the name is not different,” Jewell told ABC News.
In an interview last year with the Associated Press, Obama said if he were the owner of the football team he would consider changing the team name.
“I think all these mascots and team names related to Native Americans – Native Americans feel very strongly about it, and I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” he said.
Although Obama said he, personally, does not have a stake in the name change decision – since he is “not part owner of any football team” – his administration does, at least, have a stake in whether the new stadium would return to the district after nearly 20 years.
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, the site where construction would commence, sits on national park land within the District. Jewell oversees the U.S. National Park Service.
What’s more is that although RFK Stadium is owned by the District and it leases the land from the federal government, Bowser is also an opponent of the team name because “it’s offensive to many people,” she said.
Last year, team owner Dan Snyder began the process of designing a new stadium, and he is considering the District as its potential home. It was also last year that his team lost six of its seven trademarks after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office concluded that the name of the team is “disparaging to Native Americans.”
Snyder said he will “NEVER” change the name.