The Washington Redskins and Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced Monday that a 17-acre site about two miles from downtownwill be developed to host the football team’s summer training camp beginning in July 2013.
Bon Secours Richmond Health System (BSRHS), the project’s main sponsor, and the city plan to build two full-size football fields, a field house and a large spectator area on the parcel of now-vacant land off West Leigh Street behind the Science Museum of Virginia, officials announced.
“We are announcing an agreement today that has overall merits for the entire city,” Jones said at a news conference in Richmond attended by Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen. “Our efforts have leveraged the world-class opportunity of bringing the Washington Redskins summer training camp to Richmond into an estimated $40 million investment in our city with greatly expanded benefits.”
The city and the team said about 200 jobs would be created as a result of the project and the anticipated economic impact of the annual three-week training camp would be about $8.5 million per year.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the cost of the training camp site in the city’s Newtowne West neighborhood will total about $10 million. The Bon Secours investments also will be used to develop other sports and sports medicine facilities in the Richmond area.
The Redskins have held training camp at their Ashburn headquarters since 2002, but have sought a location in the region that would allow them to get away for the three-week training session. Coach Mike Shanahan has said that he prefers getting away from the team facility for camp, a move he believes helps eliminate distractions for players and helps the team bond.
In June, the Redskins reached an agreement with Virginia officials to move the camp to Richmond. As part of the deal, Redskins Park will undergo a $30 million expansion project with $4 million contributed by the state.
Since June, Richmond officials, Allen and his staff have worked to find a location. They narrowed the list from four to two before settling on the Leigh Street location. Players will stay in a hotel, which has not yet been selected.
“When the governor and the mayor came up with this idea, we thought it was perfect. It’s two hours away from our offices, it gets you away, but at the same time, we’re at home,” Allen told reporters at the news conference.
When the Redskins aren’t using the fields and field house they will be available for youth sports leagues and the Bon Secours' health system.
“We just want the fields maintained for when we’re here,” Allen said. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of youth programs and sports leagues that rent out the fields from the proper authorities here. We won’t have control over that.”