Obama administration tells the Redskins: You want a new stadium in D.C.? How about you get a new name first?

The Interior Secretary told D.C.'s mayor the president is reluctant to help a team whose name is so offensive

Published July 1, 2015 8:02PM (EDT)

           (AP/Steve Helber)
(AP/Steve Helber)

The Washington Post's Jonathan O'Connell reports that the National Park Service will not allow the Washington Redskins to build a new stadium in D.C. if it insists on keeping its current name.

The Redskins currently play in FedEx Field, which is in Prince George's County, but D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has been lobbying to have the team return to the city itself by building a new facility where Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium currently stands. That land, however, is owned by the National Park Service.

In order to convince the team to build a new stadium at that location, Bowser would need to extend the city's lease of the 190 acres beneath RFK beyond the 22 years it currently has left. But Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has repeatedly stated that the Park Service would not agree to extend the lease unless the team ditched the "relic of the past" that is its name.

"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," she told ABC News last year.

According to Department of Interior spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw, at an April 27th meeting, Jewell told Mayor Bowser that "she was uncomfortable with that name," and that "the president has said something similar, that he is uncomfortable with the name, and she clearly clarified that position."

Kershaw said Jewell also informed the mayor that, given the team's reluctance to change its name, the Obama administration won't be making the lease extension a top priority in its final 18 months.

"Given the timing, this is not likely to be a priority for this administration," she said.

The Washington Post also obtained a letter sent to Mayor Bowser by Robert Vogel, the regional director of the Park Service, in which he wrote that "[a]s I believe the Secretary made clear in our discussion, the NPS will not take a position in support of such an extension at this time."

By Scott Eric Kaufman

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