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The Washington Commanders are the latest NFL team to change its name after previously being referred to as a racist slur. While many local fans of the team know exactly where they play, outsiders may not realize where the team actually plays – the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., the state of Washington, or the next-to-D.C. state of Maryland.

So, which state or city do the Commanders actually play in? Here’s the story of the team’s history and what location they call home. 

The history of the Washington Commanders

The Washington Commanders NFL football team holding a draft party at the FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland
Washington Commanders at the FedEx Field | Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

For many years, the team was known as a term offensive to Native Americans. According to NFL Operations, the team was founded in 1932. Its first home was the city of Boston. Five years later, the team moved to Washington, D.C. 

While the team has had many great players throughout its history, its golden era came under head coach Joe Gibbs. Gibbs led the team to three Super Bowl championships (1982, 1987, and 1991). In this era, the team became renowned for its superior offensive line play behind players affectionately referred to as the Hogs. 

However, the team has struggled over the past 25 years. Washington’s team has had infrequent playoff appearances with a revolving door of head coaches and quarterbacks. None have been able to achieve consistent success with the franchise. 

In 2020, amid widespread criticism, the team finally acquiesced and dropped its offensive moniker. For two seasons, the franchise was known as the Washington Football Team while the team’s marketing department figured out a new name and mascot. This past offseason, it unveiled a new name: the Washington Commanders, honoring D.C.’s military history. 

Where are the Washington Commanders located? 

The Washington Commanders has its home city of Washington, D.C., represented in its name, but that’s not where the team physically plays. The team played at RFK Stadium within the city limits for years. In the late 1990s, the team moved to its new stadium site of FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, where the team currently plays. Additionally, the team is headquartered in Ashburn, Virginia. 

The D.C. metropolitan area supports the Commanders, though its lack of success and other controversies has made it much harder for fans to do so in recent years. The team is currently on the hunt for a new stadium (with D.C., Virginia, and Maryland all being options) but is struggling to find a taker. 

Why the Commanders’ stadium was in jeopardy

According to the Washington Post, the state of Maryland recently made a pitch that involved spending $400 million to revamp the community around the stadium. This would include the building of an amphitheater, a plaza, and athletic courts for children to use. 

This sets up the area to thrive whether the Washington Commanders decide to stay or not. Maryland delegate Nick Charles said the deal helped the state protect itself. “If they see the value and the benefit of staying in a well-developed downtown area, great,” said Charles. “But we have to take care of ourselves first before we take care of anybody else.”

The deal is much more friendly to the state than to the Commanders, but it helps prepare the Landover area for the team’s departure. Meanwhile, the Commanders are still looking for a great deal but are having a hard time finding one. 

The truth is that the Commanders aren’t the local draw they once were. With 20-plus years of futility mixed with mismanagement (and potentially worse misdeeds) throughout the organization, many fans are now sour on the team. The Commanders are the very definition of a depreciating asset – the real question is which state or city will give them a place to call home in the future?