Loudoun Might Be Playing Ball With Redskins

By Christopher Twarowski
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 11, 2009

An ad hoc committee has recommended that Loudoun County spend $250,000 in tax revenue over the next two years on a marketing partnership between the county and the Washington Redskins.

The committee also voted to recommend that the county begin discussions with the team about locating a Redskins Hall of Fame in Loudoun.

The marketing partnership, if approved by the Board of Supervisors, would require the county to spend $250,000 of transient occupancy tax funds on a two-year deal that would brand Loudoun as the "Corporate Home of the Redskins," among other provisions.

The four voting members of the committee -- board Chairman Scott K. York (I) and Supervisors Lori L. Waters (R-Broad Run), Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) and Susan Klimek Buckley (D-Sugarland Run) -- approved both recommendations unanimously at a meeting Wednesday.

In an interview after the vote, Miller said the committee's work had answered any lingering questions he had about the marketing arrangement.

"This is what I wanted from this committee exactly," Miller said. "Now we've got clarity, specificity and reasons to believe that this is going to be good for the county."

Miller, along with four other supervisors, had voted Dec. 2 against a deal with the team. But he made a motion Dec. 18 to reconsider the matter after supervisors were deluged with requests from the business community to do so, and the board voted that day to establish the ad hoc study committee.

The original proposal called for spending $100,000 in revenue from the transient occupancy on overnight stays at hotels in the first year, with the potential for spending an additional $150,000 to extend the partnership another year and move toward establishing the hall of fame. Critics of the measure said the partnership was an inappropriate use of taxpayers' money.

The agreement that the committee recommended Wednesday has more details about what the partnership would entail than the original proposal did. It also stipulates that the arrangement would be for two years.

Under the deal, Loudoun would be authorized to use the Redskins logo in the county's marketing materials and on its Web site. The county would have a banner ad on Redskins.com, which has more than 10 million unique visitors a month during football season and more than 200,000 registered users, according to the team. Loudoun also would be mentioned in the team's e-mail blasts to its subscribers, who include corporate suite owners, corporate team sponsors and season ticket holders.

Redskins Park, the team's training camp, would be identified in all Redskins marketing materials and news releases as being in Loudoun, and Loudoun would be mentioned in team-controlled media's on-air datelines. The county would be able to distribute materials at the camp, develop hospitality packages focused on the camp and host an annual event there, with up to 200 attendees. The county also would be allowed to participate in Redskins networking events.

The Board of Supervisors will decide at its Jan. 21 business meeting whether to approve the committee's recommendations.

York changed the wording of the resolution dealing with the hall of fame to keep open the possibility that transient occupancy tax funds and not just private money could be used for part of that project.

"I think that there are some of us that feel, depending upon what this is, that maybe there could be some potential use of the tourist tax for part of this," he said after the vote.

The three nonvoting members of the ad hoc committee are John Wood, incoming chairman of the Loudoun Economic Development Commission; Tony Howard, president of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce; and Cheryl Kilday, president of the Loudoun Convention and Visitors Association.

York said during Wednesday's meeting that he wanted the three to be included in any discussions with the Redskins about the hall of fame project.

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