Redskins fans around D.C. are celebrating the teams victory over the New York Giants last night, but the team's fans in the Virginia have another reason to celebrate: the Washington Redskins have decided to stay in Virginia and build a training camp in Richmond.
A small crowd cheered last week as the Redskins unveiled plans for a 12-acre complex off West Broad Street, behind Richmond's Science Museum. Sports fans were excited by the prospect of watching the team practice on one of two fields this summer.
Builders will break ground in February on the $10 million project, and the city has already found its main sponsor. Bon Secour Health System will contribute $6.4 million in exchange for naming rights and use of medical offices on the premises. The city will contribute $400,000.
Elsie Harper-Anderson, an assistant professor of public policy at Virginia Commonwealth University, predicted Richmond will get its money's worth.
"This is a great example of trying to rebuild and revitalize, attract attention to the city, rebrand it as a sports tourism destination," said Harper-Anderson. "Research has shown it creates a sense of civic pride. People feel like they belong to something."
But some neighbors want nothing to do with the noise and traffic expected for those three weeks each summer when the Redskins practice. In addition, the city's minor league baseball team, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, were dismayed. They have been asking for a new stadium for some time and were surprised at how quickly the city moved to make the Redskins deal happen.