A new drawing gives an aerial view of what the Redskins summer training camp will look like. And will the public be able to use the fields when they’re not used by the Redskins?
Update #11 — February 11, 2013; 7:21 AM
An artist depiction of the Washington Redskins summer training camp (PDF) shows what the site is expected to look like when construction is completed later this year. In addition to adjacent football fields, a smaller drill field, and a Bon Secours building, the site will also have an amphitheater.
Tammy Hawley, the City’s press secretary, said in an email that the amphitheater will serve as a “great fan viewing area during camp, but that doesn’t suggest that it doesn’t work for residents for the other 49 weeks of the year.”
The amphitheater can be used for family picnics, and Hawley said that even music events may be permitted at the venue. “It was precisely designed with the community in mind.”
Hawley said that the practice fields will be fenced off, and that the City’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) will manage public access to the fields when they aren’t used by the Redskins. “This is critical for ensuring the health and maintenance of the fields to meet NFL guidelines,” Hawley said.
Not only does the NFL require that players and staff be separated from fans and media during during training camp, but the Redskins also require a secure perimeter for the site “so they can control access,” she said.
The site is expected to be ready by the summer.
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Update #10 — January 15, 2013; 5:15 PM
Today, Mayor Dwight Jones issued a statement regarding the excess removal of trees on the future site of the Washington Redskins summer training camp facility. He attributed the loss of trees to a “shift” in design plans that occurred last October.
“That shift, which moved our project roughly 100 feet west on the site, came about to protect the visibility of a future special events center behind the Science Museum. The trees were removed in accordance with those revamped plans. Those plans were submitted to the Urban Design Committee and the Planning Commission.
“While our original intent was to preserve as many trees as possible and while it was our belief that plans drawn up supported that intent, the shift of the 100 feet to the west essentially caused the removal of most of the trees we had intended to preserve.
“Everyone knows we cannot put the trees back and this is not reversible. What we must work toward now is ensuring that we impact the site in a positive way and that we are keeping our commitment to provide a public park at the west end of the site.
The mayor said he will increase communication between his administration and the development group. “Clearly what was missing was clarity on the commitments and sensitivities related to this project that my office has been managing,” he said. “Communication needs to be seamless and it has not been.”
The Mayor’s chief of staff, Suzette Denslow, will now oversee weekly project meetings related to the site’s development. Jones said a weekly project report will also be shared with City Council.
Jones anticipates having a new supplemental landscaping plan by mid-February, which he hopes will include “better than one-for-one replacement rate of trees” uprooted.
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Update #9 — January 15, 2013; 6:50 AM
During the ground clearing for the future Washington Redskins summer training facility, excess trees were removed behind the Science Museum of Virginia, violating an agreement made by a Councilman and the Mayor’s Office.
Newly-elected City Council president, Charles Samuels (2nd District), said after a visit to the site last weekend, “I was shocked when I saw that every single tree on the property had been removed.” He claimed this infringed upon the agreement he reached with Mayor Dwight Jones.
“The agreement between the Administration and myself was that, while there would be a one-for-one tree replacement for any tree that had to come down, as many trees as possible would remain; including those surrounding a portion of the vita course on the west side of the property.”
In response, Mayor Jones said he was “taken aback” to learn of the trees’ removal. “This is counter to our commitment to protect the older hardwood trees at the west end of the property,” he said. “We are reviewing the matter to determine what mistakes were made so that we can prevent further problems from occurring.”
He said a new landscaping plan will be developed, and that “more mature” trees will be used on the western side of the site.
“I know that everyone is moving forward quickly with construction to meet our June 2013 deadline, but we need to be mindful of commitments,” the Mayor said. “A mistake was made, and we need it to be rectified, and we need to prevent further problems.”
Councilman Chris Hilbert (3rd District), who after initial opposition to the Redskins training camp deal voted for it when it came before Council last November, said he was “disgusted and outraged” at learning of the unnecessary tree removals.
“Richmond residents deserve much better than this complete and utter failure to protect one of our city’s most valuable resources, our urban forest,” he said. “This incident is shocking and calls into question the entire management of this project and I want to get to the bottom of it.”
Hilbert insists that a report into the tree removals be provided, along with a “one for one” replacement of the uprooted trees.
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Update #8 — November 27, 2012; 7:00 AM
Last night, City Council, through multiple votes on multiple ordinances, unanimously approved the Redskins summer training camp behind the Science Museum of Virginia.
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Update #7 — October 23rd, 11:51 AM
Yesterday, Mayor Dwight Jones announced that Bon Secours Richmond Health System and the City will partner to develop the Redskins summer training camp behind the Science Museum of Virginia, as well as two health care facilities at separate locations within the city.
“This agreement, in partnership with Bon Secours and the Economic Development Authority, places the city in a position to not only build the practice fields and field house for the Redskins, but to generate investment and business expansion throughout the city,” said Mayor Jones.
Bon Secours will sponsor the Redskins training facility that sits on 17 acres of largely unused land behind the Science Museum. The facility is expected to cost approximately $10 million to construct. For its part, Bon Secours has pledged $6.4 million over 10 years to fund that construction. However, Bon Secours total investment will reach $40 million and include the development of additional sites.
The local health system will take over the former Westhampton School property at Libby and Patterson avenues in the West End. The City will provide Bon Secours with a long-term lease to develop a 75,000-square foot medical building expected to employ approximately 120 full-time workers.
Bon Secours will also expand to the East End where the company will develop a 25,000-square foot medical office and a wellness and fitness center expected to employ roughly 75 full-time workers. Officials at Bon Secours tout that both expanded sites will supply nearly $16 million in annual payroll.
“Bon Secours is proud to join Mayor Dwight Jones and the City of Richmond in a partnership to bring the Washington Redskins training facilities and camp to Richmond,” said Peter J. Bernard, CEO of Bon Secours Virginia Health System. “This agreement will allow Bon Secours to significantly expand upon our effort to build healthier communities across Richmond.”
City Officials expect the Redskins training camp will generate $8.5 million annually. To help fund construction of the facility that is to be completed by Summer 2013, the City will take out a short-term loan. As yet, project details have not been finalized, and City Council has yet to approve those details, which it will likely do next month. However, officials are confident that the crux of the agreement will happen.
“The Washington Redskins and our fans are excited about the team’s summer training camp move to Richmond,” said Bruce Allen, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Washington Redskins. “We are grateful for the leadership shown by Governor McDonnell, along with Mayor Jones and his relocation steering committee, and want to thank them and Bon Secours Health System for their commitment to building a world-class training facility. We believe our Richmond training camp experience will become the model for all professional sports teams.”
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Update #6 — October 22nd, 8:41 AM
A vacant lot behind the Science Museum of Virginia will house the Washington Redskins summer training camp. The 17-acre lot off W. Leigh Street will include two full-size fields, a field house, and other amenities. Developing the land will cost an estimated $10 million. The camp will be operational ahead of next summer.
Later today, Mayor Jones will discuss the decision in a press conference. The press conference is expected to include details of a $40 million private investment that will fund the training camp, as well as two other yet unknown sites near the area.
The decision comes nearly two months after a steering committee appointed by Mayor Jones proposed two sites for the City to consider (see update below).
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Update #5 — August 30th, 3:00 PM
Today a steering committee established by Mayor Jones to propose locations for the Washington Redskins summer training facility has formally recommended two sites that the committee believes are best suited for both the City and the Redskins: City Stadium and an area on Leigh Street behind the Science Museum of Virginia.
Mike Frazier, chair of the steering committee, said several conditions were considered in narrowing a reported 10 possible sites to the final two:
- Preferences of the Redskins
- Land development needs
- Zoning requirements
- Potential site use beyond that of the Redskins
- Economic development considerations
“Using these screens and a disciplined assessment approach, we were quickly led to the most compelling sites for even deeper assessment work,” said Frazier. “Implementation schedules and probable construction costs also drove our deliberations. The analysis has led to the recommendations that we are making today.” A full list of needs and analysis of each site is here (pdf).
City officials expect that a one-time investment of approximately $10 million will be needed to prepare the final site. Officials estimate that the investment will lead to approximately $8.5 million to the city each year for the next eight years.
Mayor Jones: “Several factors will play a role in determining the selection of the final site. Those factors include the desire for a location that will stimulate corridor growth and revitalization, the impact on tourism venues and retail activity, minimal execution risk so that the site is ready in time for 2013, and a site that activates a solid financing strategy to support it.”
It is expected that Redskins officials will visit the two sites and will work with the City to select a final site in time for the team’s 2013 summer training camp.
Both sites have benefits and shortcomings. City Stadium is already City-owned and would be improved by construction. However, a new field house is needed and would need to be constructed by 2013.
While the area behind the Science Museum is on private property, the owner is open to development. The area also has shared parking with the Diamond. However, a new field house would need to be constructed, just like City Stadium.
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UPDATE # 4 August 17th, 9:50 AM
NBC12 is reporting that the Washington Redskins are showing “significant interest” in land behind the Science Museum of Virginia for their summer training camp facility. The property under consideration is on W. Leigh Street between Boulevard and Hermitage Road and owned by the city.
City officials and representatives of the Science Museum have not commented on the report.
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Update #3 August 2nd, 1:54 PM
CBS6 reports city officials are considering four sites to hold the Redskins summer training camp:
- Sports Backers Stadium (near the Diamond)
- City Stadium
- Virginia Union University
- Behind the Science Museum, on Leigh Street.
Redskins officials are expected to visit Richmond in the coming weeks to review the sites. An announcement declaring the future site is expected later this month
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Update #2 July 26th, 1:47 PM
The Steering Committee appointed by Mayor Jones to help find a location for the Washington Redskins Summer Training Camp has investigated potential locations and will now work to narrow their list to four. Today’s announcement comes after the committee’s second full meeting.
“We’ve engaged in intensive site review work over the past several weeks and we’ve visited with Redskins’ representatives at their headquarters in Ashburn,” said steering committee chair, Mike Fraizer. “We are now performing detailed assessment work on each of these sites and anticipate completing this work by mid-August.”
Mayor Jones: “The summary findings have helped to identify the most compelling sites, and we can now drill down in our review of the options. Not all of the sites are owned by the city, so we won’t disclose the specific locations under consideration at this time. We do not want to compromise any negotiations that may be needed.” A location is expected to be announced by the end of August.
Beginning work in June, the steering committee established five criteria that will guide the decision-making process:
- football operation needs
- fan experience
- development considerations
- economic development benefits
- alternative uses beyond Redskins use
“We are all on the same page about the criteria that must be met with the selected site, and that information has helped to narrow our list to four locations,” said Frazier. The committee is also considering the effects a training camp will have on adjacent neighborhoods, as well as transportation issues.
In the coming weeks, the steering committee is expected to provide the mayor with its four recommended sites. Redskins representatives will likely visit those sites in mid-August, with a decided location announced later that month.
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Update #1 June 29th, 1:30 PM
Mayor Jones issued the following statement after meeting with his Steering Committee, which will advise him on locating the Redskin’s summer training camp:
“Today marks the launching of our review process. The Steering Committee we’ve assembled is tasked with helping us prepare for this world-class opportunity to host the Redskins Summer Training Camp here in Richmond for the next eight years and I was pleased to formally convene the work of the Committee today.
“I’ve named Mike Fraizer, owner of the Richmond Raiders, as chair of the Steering Committee. We have designed the work of the Steering Committee to take place in a relatively quick turnaround process as we plan to get this review done inside of three months. Ultimately, we want to produce a top training camp; not only from the player perspective, but also from the fan perspective.
“Right now we are using a wide funnel and all sites are under consideration as the committee begins its work. At least ten sites are on the table and all sites considered will be within the city limits. The Committee will undertake a few site visits of existing training camp facilities as we go through this process and some of the work will be done in smaller groups. We plan to have our work completed by mid-September, if not earlier.
“In addition to the site review work itself, the committee will discuss issues related to financing. However, it is premature to say what the specific costs will be, as costs will be driven by the site decision that is made and have to be looked at on at least three fronts which includes, whether we retrofit or build a new field house, field cost itself, and how extensive the facilities will be to create the appropriate fan experience.”
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Today Governor Bob McDonnell announced that the Washington Redskins are working with the city to locate a site for the team’s 2013 summer training camp. In addition, Gov. McDonnell announced that the Washington Redskins will remain headquartered in Ashburn, Virginia as well as expand upon the team’s existing training facility.
“Virginia considers the Redskins our team,” said Gov. McDonnell. “The team is based here. The team trains here. The players live here. Virginians root for the Redskins on the field, and off the field the team contributes greatly to the economy and culture of the Commonwealth.”
Rumors of the team expanding or outright moving facilities have persisted over the last several months. Mayor Jones confirmed that officials with the Redskins visited the city in early March. Those officials toured the Richmond Marriott, Greater Richmond Convention Center, VCU, and City Stadium.
It’s unknown if the Redskins will use an existing facility, like City Stadium, or construct a new facility.
The Redskins have trained at their facility in Ashburn, Virginia, known as Redskins Park, since 2003. However, several successive disappointing years have diminished the team’s fan base in Ashburn. While Redskins officials do not release attendance numbers for their training facility, an AP account last year reported that attendance was in the hundreds when in years past attendance was in the thousands. Regardless, a relocation to Richmond will likely spur attendance and additional interest in the team.
“The Washington Redskins bringing their summer training camp to Richmond is beyond exciting,“ said Mayor Jones. ”This will have a great economic impact for Richmond and the region! I thank the owners and senior executives of the Redskins for their ongoing work with us to determine the right facilities to meet the team’s needs. I thank Governor McDonnell for his leadership. Hail to the Redskins!“ While no location has been decided on for the new Redskins facility, the city ”will make further announcements regarding that process in the days and weeks ahead.”
It’s estimated that an NFL training camp generates approximately $5 million for the community in which it’s located. Redskins headquarters provides $2.2 million in state and local tax revenue, in addition to a corporate income tax. Approximately 20,000 individuals visit the headquarters each year, spending nearly $3.4 million.
stock photo by Keith Allison