Washington Redskins training camp moving to Richmond in 2013
The Washington Redskins will begin holding preseason training camp in Richmond in time for the 2013 season, Gov. Bob McDonnell and the franchise announced Wednesday.
A site where training camp will be held has not yet been selected. McDonnell said in a release that the team and the Commonwealth will work together to find a facility for the Redskins to hold camp.
The team has spent the past several years holding camp at their Ashburn headquarters, where multi-million dollar practice bubble was completed in the past year. The team has also previously held camp in Carlisle, Pa.
"Virginia considers the Redskins our team," Gov. McDonnell said. "The team is based here. The team trains here. The players live here." McDonnell added that the franchise generates nearly $200 million in economic activity in Virginia and $9.8 million annually in state and local tax revenue.
Total Virginia incentives topped $6 million, McDonnell said. He approved a $4 million performance-based state grant, and Loudoun County agreed to put up about $500,000 annually over the next four years to help keep the team's main facilities in Virginia.
The new deal also will allow for the expansion of the team's corporate and training headquarters in Ashburn.
"We are proud to call Loudoun County the home of Redskins Park," Redskins GM Bruce Allen said in a statement. "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."
District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray pushed aggressively to get the Redskins to relocate their headquarters and practice facility from the county to the District. He visited Redskins Park in December and traveled to Tampa to tour practice facilities there and see what would be needed to lure the Redskins back to Washington.
In Richmond, the Redskins have deep loyalties, despite four last-place divisional finishes in a row.
Burgundy-and-gold Redskins jerseys and parkas dominate sports bars on Sunday game days.
The team has made inquiries about practice sites that would be open to them for about three weeks from late July through mid-August.
Richmond athletic director Jim Miller said the Redskins visited campus, but the school's own football team will need its facilities for preseason drills, and work crews will still be preparing dormitories for the fall semester.
The city of Richmond owns a 22,600-seat stadium near downtown that was the Spiders' home football field before an on-campus stadium was completed two years ago.
The field is now home to the Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League.
The only other college in Richmond with a football program is Virginia Union University. Nearby colleges include Virginia State University near Petersburg and Randolph-Macon College in nearby Ashland, but city official say the agreement restricts the Redskins to a training camp site within the city.
Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones said he has been working with team owner Dan Snyder and senior team executives to find the right training spot for the team.
In Richmond, many are thrilled that for three weeks each summer, this will be an NFL city.
“I think that's great,” says Melissa Lowry. “I love the redskins and I love Chris Cooley!”
Redskins fans filed out of the team's practice Wednesday at the park happy to have seen their favorite players. They were happy until ABC7 told them the team is moving its yearly summer training camp from Ashburn to Richmond.
“What are going do? just drive to Richmond then,” says Octavia Jackson.
Mike Hopkins owns a business in Hyattsville and has held season tickets for 10 years.
“I think we're being cheated as fans because we can't come to events like this unless we go to Richmond,” he says.
Sam Eways owns two Ashburn businesses just around the corner from Redskins park. He's owned them for 11 years.
“We have banks come in here. Fred Davis comes in here,” Eways says.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.