State and local governments have agreed to kick in $6.4 million as part of a deal to expand the Washington Redskins’s Loudoun County facility and move the team’s August camp to Richmond starting next year.
(Read the full story on the deal here).
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said the state has been working to negotiate a deal for about a year and even though Maryland and the District offered more money, the Redskins selected Virginia.
“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 reasonable investment.’’
Virginia will spend $4 million over the next two years while Loudoun County pledged $2 million over the next four years. Richmond has agreed to help pay up to $400,000.
“The Redskins are an economic engine for our state and that’s why we put together a performance grant program to retain them here in the commonwealth,’’ said McDonnell, a longtime Redskins fan who married a former Redskins cheerleader.
The McDonnell administration attempted to add $6 million for the Redskins in the state budget, by increasing the limit on an economic contingency account. Half of the increase would have gone into the so-called caboose budget that covers the current fiscal year and half in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The proposed funds were never openly tied to a Redskins deal, but the administration eventually disclosed to lawmakers that was the intention, according to people involved in the process who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely.
The House killed the increase.
“They couldn’t show anything concrete we were getting,” the person said. “The stadium’s still in Maryland. We didn’t know what we were getting for the dollars.”
Now McDonnell is using money from a grant fund program requiring that certain investments and job creation take place. The agreed-upon investments and job creation have to occur, and the jobs must be maintained for a certain period of time, before the grant funds are paid.
The General Assembly would also have to sign off on appropriations for the grant, though that is considered a formality since the administration has the authority to award it.
As part of the deal, the outdated Ashburn facility, which houses training and headquarters, will receive a $30 million upgrade. But Loudoun will lose the team’s August training camp to Richmond beginning in 2013 as part of an eight-year deal.
State Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) said he was disappointed to learn that the team would move its off-season training out of Loudoun County.
“The information that I have so far does not sound like good news for Loudoun County,” said Black, who only learned the news through his aide Wednesday. “I think we all just sort of got word without any advance warning, and I don’t think that was a very wise way to approach this. My guess is perhaps there was a feeling if they let the delegation know about it, they’d probably get some pushback. There’s no doubt that, I think, the Loudoun delegation would have certainly done whatever we could to make sure that the training camp remained here.”