The Washington Redskins will move their August training camp from Ashburn to Richmond beginning in 2013, people with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday.
As part of the deal, a $30 million expansion will be coming to the team’s Loudoun County facility, where the Redskins’ corporate headquarters will remain. Some state money is involved in paying for the expansion, those people said. Update: The state is kicking in $4 million.
Club officials, including Coach Mike Shanahan, have expressed a desire to move the annual camp away from the team’s regular season training facility. They have had talks with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray about finding a facility in the District and had spoken with Prince George’s County representatives about a site in Bowie.
The blog HogsHaven.com first reported the story.
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said Wednesday that the state has been working to negotiate a deal for about a year. Maryland and the District offered more money, but the Redskins selected Virginia, he said.
“This is yet another major corporation that has decided to stay in Virginia or grow in Virginia or move to Virginia,’’ McDonnell said at a news conference outside the governor’s mansion. “We are the most business friendly state in America and that’s why even though other jurisdictions offered significant revenue to get them to move, the management and ownership of the Redskins understood there’s no better place to call home…than the commonwealth of Virginia.’’
McDonnell touted the state’s low taxes and regulations in helping entice the Redskins to stay in Virginia
McDonnell, who grew up in Fairfax County, called himself a 45-year Redskins fan who married a former Redskins cheerleader.
“There are numerous fans not just in Northern Virginia but…in central Virginia, Hampton Roads and even into northern North Carolina and places west,’’ McDonnell said. “This is a truly a regional team, a great team, one of America’s most valuable franchises.”
As part of the deal, the outdated Ashburn facility, which houses the training facility and headquarters, will receive a $30 million upgrade. State officials said construction will begin soon, but no date was available. McDonnell said the Redskins may expand more in future years.
“What they are trying to do is consolidate every operation in one area so the players have everything they need in one spot,’’ McDonnell said.
Virginia will spend $4 million over the next two years and Loudoun County will provide $2 million over the next four years. Richmond has agreed to pay as much as $400,000.
“With the competition with Maryland and D.C., we wanted to do everything we could to maintain that home here.’’ McDonnell said. “It was a resonable investment.’’
Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said Wednesday afternoon on ESPN980, the radio station owned by Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder, that the uprgades at Redskins Park will include a new weight room, a new training room, a new cafeteria and improvements in the technological department.
Allen released a statement Wednesday morning saying that “during the last two years the Washington Redskins have made significant improvements to modernize FedEx Field and Redskins Park, ensuring a best-in-class game day experience for our fans and an excellent training environment for our players. We are very pleased to continue our relationship with the Commonwealth of Virginia that my father established 41 years ago.
“We are proud to call Loudoun County the home of Redskins Park. In conjunction with the governor’s office and the city of Richmond, we also look forward to finding a great summer training camp facility in the city for both our team and our fans to enjoy.”
D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), the council’s leading proponent of bringing the Redskins back to the city, said a team representative contacted him today about the decision to stay in Virginia.
“I’m glad that the mayor and myself and Michael Brown made an effort,” he said.
David S. Iannucci, who had been spearheading Prince George’s negotiations with the Redskins, said the county and the Maryland Stadium Authority spent $25,000 on a feasibility study that found that a site near the Bowie MARC station would have made a possible practice facility for the Redskins.
But Iannucci said he was not surprised that the team had chosen to stay in northern Virginia. “They have deep and longstanding ties to northern Virginia,” he said.
Prince George’s fully expects the team to continue playing at Fedex Field. The Redskins are in the 16th year of a 30-year lease that would be very expensive to break, he said. “It would be a massive penalty,” he said.
Redskins team officials consider Redskins Park, opened in 1992, badly in need of a top to bottom facelift if the facility is going to rival those of other NFL franchises. This offseason, the team opened an indoor practice facility, and Allen indicated last month that it would be only the first of a series of upgrades as Redskins brass works to modernize the facility.
Richmond is considering a number of locations for the Redskins’ summer practice site and will make further announcements regarding that process in the days and weeks ahead. McDonnell will join Redskins officials on Aug. 4th to celebrate the deal.
Cleo Battle, vice president of sales and service for the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the area should benefit greatly from the influx of fans who come to see the Redskins train..
“We’ve seen our sports tourism grow significantly in the market in the last couple years, and this is an added feather in our cap,” he said.
Battle noted that less than a year ago, the city was awarded rights to host the UCI World Cycling Championships in 2015. And later this month, he said, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games come to town.
“Those are the kinds of things that our community has targeted,” he said.
“I think it will be a blast,” said Merrill Cann, a 31-year-old financial adviser and Redskins fan who was enjoying an Indian food lunch purchased from a truck in downtown Richmond.
“No question,” his father, Brad Cann, piped in. “There’s nothing going on here other than the Flying Squirrels,” he added, referring to the Double-A baseball team.
Brad Cann, 60, an attorney who has attended many Redskins games with his son, paused a moment, and thought better of that comment.
“The Flying Squirrels and the Redskins don’t belong in the same sentence,” he said.
Recent data shows that the Redskins support 1,832 jobs in the state, directly and indirectly. The team generates nearly $200 million in economic activity in Virginia and over $100 million annually in player salaries, and provides $9.8 million annually in state and local tax revenue.
Expansion of the training facility is estimated to support 393 jobs during construction, while generating $52.8 million in total economic activity. The existing corporate headquarters supports, directly and indirectly, 350 jobs and provides $2.2 million in state and local tax revenue, not including the corporate income tax paid by the team.
Ashburn is visited by 20,000 people a year who spend approximately $3.4 million on goods and services during their visits.
Staff writers Miranda Spivack, Mike Jones, Laura Vozzella and Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.
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