Loudoun County’s controversial eight-year, $2 million marketing agreement with the Washington Redskins was worth $1.4 million in marketing value last year, according to a report from the county’s Department of Economic Development. The Board of Supervisors’ economic development committee received the report April 21, amid mounting criticism of the county agreement with the team.
“The Redskins have . . . been a very active participant in our business attraction efforts,” Buddy Rizer, Loudoun’s economic development director, told the supervisors. “We’ve worked with them on several major projects and have utilized team assets that have really helped us further deals in development.”
According to the report, most of the value of the marketing deal last year came from on-air mentions of Loudoun, television backdrops that periodically displayed a county logo during the team’s news conferences and a luxury suite at a Redskins game that allowed county officials to entertain commercial real estate executives and other business leaders.
Loudoun was mentioned on the air 345 times, according to the report, at an estimated value of $705,000. The luxury suite was valued at $280,000, and news conference backdrops at $215,000. Other marketing assets highlighted in the report included a banner ad on the team’s Web site, two Chamber of Commerce events and four announcements in newsletters e-mailed to Redskins fans.
Redskins Vice President Scott Shepherd told supervisors that two news conferences were particularly valuable to the county: former coach Mike Shanahan’s news conference on the day he was fired, and the team’s introduction of new coach Jay Gruden 10 days later. The backdrops displayed Loudoun’s logo behind the speakers along with those of other corporate sponsors. Shepherd said the backdrop for the Shanahan news conference was worth almost $250,000 for 30 seconds, and the Gruden news conference had a value of almost $1.3 million for 30 seconds.
Shepherd said Loudoun benefited from the team’s three-week training camp, even though the camp was moved from Ashburn to Richmond last year. Visit Loudoun, the county’s tourism group, distributed marketing materials for three weeks at the camp, his report said.
“We worked with Visit Loudoun to proudly showcase everything that was great within the county, again to drive those overnight stays and everything else that would be great for the county,” Shepherd said. He said the team also worked with the economic development department to entertain business prospects who attended the training camp in Richmond.
Shepherd said that Redskins fans account for high percentages of key groups of Washington area residents: 60 percent of business travel and convention decision makers; 59 percent of those who take weekend getaway trips; 79 percent of golfers; 57 percent of those who take historical and educational trips; and 56 percent of food and wine enthusiasts.
“Thus, we feel this is an unbelievable place to tell the story of Loudoun County,” he said.
Rizer’s report did not provide data about businesses that have moved to Loudoun because of the marketing agreement or about how the deal affects travel and tourism in Loudoun. Critics of the agreement have contended that it is unlikely that the presence of the Redskins’ corporate headquarters in Loudoun would be the deciding factor in a business’s decision to locate there. Rizer has declined to provide the names of any such businesses, citing departmental policy.
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said that the marketing agreement was part of a larger package to keep the Redskins from moving its headquarters and practice facility out of state. That package included a $4 million in state funding and $6 million from the Virginia Lottery.
Jim Barnes is a freelance writer.