RVA Redskins camp destination in limbo

The camp is in its fourth year in the River City, but public support for it isn’t too positive. Photo by Julie Tripp
The camp is in its fourth year in the River City, but public support for it isn’t too positive. Photo by Julie Tripp

Hundreds of Redskins fans lined up around the field at the Bons Secours Washington Redskins Training Camp on Aug. 13 for fan appreciation day on the penultimate day of the 2016 edition of the annual two-week camp.

In it’s fourth year in Richmond, the camp allowed fans the chance to see the likes of Kirk Cousins, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and members of the 2015 NFC Championship. Fans also watched superstar defensive back Josh Norman in Burgundy and Gold for the first time. Norman recently ditched the Super Bowl runner-up Carolina Panthers to sign a lucrative four-year, $75 million contract with the Washington-based team.

While the mood inside the Bons Secours facility was jovial, heavy doubts regarding the camp’s overall value ran through the River City’s residents.

From July to August, the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU and the Richmond Times-Dispatch surveyed 559 Richmond residents about the worth of the camp. 74 percent of respondents said they thought the city’s investment in the training camp was not valuable.

76 percent of respondents said they think the city should stop paying the Redskins a $500,000 annual fee. The $500,000 payment made by the Richmond Economic Development Authority was originally intended was to be covered by money from sponsorships and other in-kind donations. In each of the first three years, the EDA has fallen well short of their goal, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

31 percent of the participants said they have attended the training camp and 35 percent said they were Redskins fans. Of those who have attended the camp, a majority think it is beneficial to the city. Only 28 percent thought the EDA should continue its annual payment to the team and 54 percent believe the payments should be discontinued.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.13 percentage points.

Graphic by Desiree Choe. Poll results from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Graphic by Desiree Choe. Poll results from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“Along with being a fan, I am also a citizen and homeowner in Richmond City,” one respondent said according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Having the city pay … (exorbitant) fees to keep a multiweek training camp here seems ridiculous considering the city’s longstanding financial trouble. Why is it more important to spend $500,000 for a few weeks when our school and infrastructure, which should last longer, go unfunded.”

The sour sentiments surrounding the camp seems to be shared by current and aspiring policy-makers in City Hall. In an April mayoral forum for declared mayoral candidates for, the Redskins deal was a hot topic issue.

The 12 candidates who participated in the forum each responded negatively to a question regarding the deal. Three of those 12 candidates currently hold a seat in the City Council, but distanced themselves from the deal.

Among them was Council President Michelle Mosby (9th District, South Central).

“I had nothing to do with the signing of the Redskins,” Mosby said. “That was done before I got here.”

Councilmen Jon Baliles (1st District, West End) and Chris Hilbert (3rd District, Northside), who is no longer a candidate for mayor also expressed negative feelings about the deal.

Former Virginia House of Delegates member and mayoral candidate Joe Morrissey said at the forum he thinks the deal is not good for the city.

“It was a good deal, but the Redskins got it, not the city of Richmond,” Morrissey said, adding that he objected to the half million dollar fee the city pays the Redskins.

Former Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney, who is a candidate but had not announced his candidacy at the time of the forum, said the Redskins in Richmond is beneficial to the city, although the current deal is not.

The Redskins and the City of Richmond are bound to an eight-year-long contract, with the Redskins being able to pull out of the contract at any time if the annual payments are not made, although according to the Times-Dispatch, the team is entirely committed to fulfilling the eight year contract.

Disclaimer: News Editor Fadel Allassan is a communications intern for mayoral candidate Levar Stoney.

Fadel Allassan. Photo by Julie TrippNews Editor, Fadel Allassan
Fadel is a junior political science major. He is fluent in English, French and Sarcasm, and he probably doesn’t like you. Fadel enjoys writing about local, regional and national politics and making people drive him to Cook-Out. // Facebook | LinkedIn
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