After holding training camp at their facility in Ashburn, Virginia for 10 of the past 12 years, the Redskins are taking their act on the road.
Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia announced today that the team will be holding training camp in Richmond starting in 2013. According to one report, the agreement to hold camp in Virginia capital city is for eight years.
About half of the NFL teams hold training camp at their regular facilities or very near them. Why are the Redskins joining the other half?
Certainly money has something to do with it. The agreement between the Redskins and Virginia contains a provision that the team will keep its facility in Ashburn. At the bottom of the governor’s announcement it says that the Redskins have been granted $4 million towards expansion and renovation of Redskins Park. Per WTOP radio, the total investment in the 21-year-old facility will be $30 million. The city of Richmond will subsidize the training camp move to the tune of $1.5 million and Loudoun County will kick in $500,000 towards the Redskins Park upgrades.
But $6 million would not make Mike Shanahan sign off on moving training camp if he thought it was best for it to stay in Ashburn. On the day he was introduced as the team’s head coach Shanahan expressed a preference for holding camp somewhere other than Redskins Park. He likes for the team to be able to get away from the distractions at home and focus on football for a few weeks.
One could argue that the bonding aspect of training camp is something of an outdated idea. Earlier in Shanahan’s tenure as an NFL coach, the offseason program was a fraction of what it is now. Players get plenty of time to get to know each other during the conditioning, OTA’s and minicamp, which start in mid-April and end in mid-June. The merit of going away so that the players can get to know each other is questionable.
And they aren’t going away to some sleepy college town like Carlisle, Pennsylvania or Frostburg, Maryland, two places the Redskins trained before they decided to stay at home. Richmond is a medium-large city and there are plenty of ways to get into trouble there.
In any case, it is hard to see it being about the money. Moving camp could well cost the Redskins more than the $4 million that the state is granting them. Moving camp also means moving a lot of complex video gear and other equipment about 115 miles down I-95 from Ashburn to Richmond.
Exactly where they will practice in Richmond is to be determined. The most logical location is City Stadium, which was the off-campus home of the University of Richmond Spiders until 2010.
But there would be some obstacles to overcome before an NFL team could hold camp on that site. There is only one field at City Stadium and while there might be room to build another one it would be a tight fit. Parking in the immediate vicinity is very limited and the complex, such as it is, is virtually surrounded by residential communities. The stadium opened in 1929.
The University of Richmond has some nice on-campus facilities but they will be in use by the Spiders for preseason practice while the Redskins are conducting their camp.
The location will be determined by a task force working with the Redskins, according to Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.