Vince Gray's Political Football D.C. pols are playing footsie with the Washington Redskins. That didn't work out so well elsewhere.

The heart of Loudoun—er, Ashburn.
Darrow Montgomery

There was some news in the lede of a press release that came out of Redskins Park last week:

“ASHBURN, Va. – The Washington Redskins announced today that they have signed wide receiver David Anderson, defensive lineman Kentwan (KEN-twon) Balmer and cornerback Domonique ‘D.J.’ Johnson.”

No, it wasn’t the arrival of another journeyman receiver.

The most interesting crumb was the dateline: “Ashburn, Va.”

Until recently, Redskins press releases opened with “Loudoun County, Va.”

The shift came amidst reports of the team talking with power people in D.C. and Prince George’s County about moving its practice facility, located in the Loudoun County town of Ashburn since 1992.

The press release address change is not coincidental to these discussions. Plainly, the marriage between the Redskins and Loudoun County is on the rocks. It wouldn’t be the first such alliance in the Dan Snyder era to end in acrimony.

In 2009, Loudoun’s Board of Supervisors voted to give the Redskins $250,000 as part of a marketing deal: The county could now call itself “The Corporate Home of the Redskins” and hold a promotional event at Redskins Park. In return, the team would use “Loudoun County” on press releases and run a Loudoun banner ad on the Redskins web site. Proponents said the deal would pay for itself via hotel-tax revenues from guests flocking to watch training camp.

A similar payment had been rejected a year earlier. But within months of that vote, the Redskins were rumored to be in talks with neighboring Fairfax County. There were also hints that a Redskins Hall of Fame could get built close to wherever the practice facility wound up. Loudoun’s board changed its mind.

Things appeared to be going well for a while. In May 2010, officials with the Loudoun Convention and Visitors Association declared that the alliance added $2.1 million to the local economy. County supervisors declared Sept. 7–Sept. 12, 2010, as “Redskins Week.” Team announcer Larry Michael could be heard dropping phrases like “in the heart of Loudoun County” on Redskins-produced TV programming.

But the two-year deal died a quiet death earlier this year. “It was a bad deal from the start,” says Loudoun County Supervisor Andrea McGimsey.

McGimsey, who opposed the original partnership, says her reservations were “absolutely validated” by the results. “It was all fuzzy math, just hocus-pocus numbers with no real specifics and no guarantees that the Redskins were even going to stay in the county,” she says. “I didn’t think we were going to get the value for our money, and I was proven correct.”

Asked about the $2.1 million figure cited by the Convention and Visitors Association, McGimsey laughs. “I don’t know where that came from,” she says. “I remember talking to one big hotel on the Route 28 corridor and asking them how having the Redskins was working for them, and he said he got zero night stays—like, zero—from the [training camp]. Everybody knows the agreement was a complete bust for us, and the people who pushed it two years ago let it die because they didn’t want anybody to start looking into what the actual hotel numbers were. But I have to say that Dan Snyder’s [lobbying] team is good at what they do: They struck a deal that was very good for them, and not good for anybody else.”

The tourism board, now called Visit Loudoun, stands by the revenue estimates. Marketing Director Brian Jenkins says his group worked with county officials to calculate revenues based on estimates of $50 spending per out-of-county visitor to training camp, and 1,000 extra hotel nights booked.

“I didn’t think it was a wise decision to give $250,000 to the richest team in the NFL,” says Loudoun County supervisor Kelly Burk, who also opposed the deal. “In the end, the county didn’t do it again, did we? That in itself was verification that it really wasn’t worth the money that we put up.” (Burk lost her seat earlier this month.)

Loudoun officials were also turned off by the uncertainties involved in doing business with a football team. Burk says the Redskins’ failure to build a practice bubble at Redskins Park was a sign that the team either intends to leave or wants people to think it might. “The village of Leesburg built a tennis bubble for itself not long ago,” she says. “The technology for a bubble is really not that complicated. If Dan Snyder really wanted to build a bubble, it would have been built.” Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie declined to comment by deadline.

Loudoun County didn’t celebrate Redskins Week in 2011. And there’s still no Redskins Hall of Fame in Ashburn.

All the same, it appears that Snyder’s team is using that same carrot to entice other jurisdictions.

Mayor Vince Gray and D.C. Councilmembers Michael Brown and Jack Evans got nabbed making what they’d hoped would be a secret getaway to Florida to scout the Tampa Bay Buccaneers $30 million training facility this month—just the sort of facility that could be built on a tract near RFK Stadium. And in June, P.G.’s county executive, Rushern Baker, called for a feasibility study for a Redskins practice facility on plot of public land near Bowie State University. A Redskins Hall of Fame has been mentioned in connection with both locations.

Evans, for one, hasn’t been shy about wanting the Redskins back. A year ago, he told WTOP that he was in a favor of a “$2 billion to $3 billion project” to replace RFK with a 110,000 seater “with a retractable roof.”

“I won’t rest until someday, someday, that the football team plays on this site,” Evans said a few weeks ago at an event commemorating RFK Stadium’s 50th anniversary.

A District practice facility could get that ball rolling. But before taxpayers fork over any money to aid a team owned by a guy who just bought a $70 million yacht, they should look at how the Redskins’ other public partnerships have gone.

Frostburg, Md., has just as frosty a relationship with Snyder as some Loudoun County supervisors do.

In 1995, then-Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke hammered out a 10-year, $331,000 per year deal to hold training camps at Frostburg State. It was the team’s way of saying “Thanks!” to Maryland for ponying up tax money to help build FedExField.

But soon after Snyder bought the team, the training camp moved to Ashburn, where the team infamously charged $10 admission and $10 parking during the 2000 preseason. The next year, when the Redskins paid Frostburg State $750,000 as part of the exit, the school used the money for a not-so-subtle poke at the new owner: an endowment in his predecessor’s name. “The positive memories of Mr. Cooke remain vivid in our minds as we think about the negotiation of a 10-year contract between the Redskins and Frostburg State University,” school President Catherine R. Gira said while announcing the Cooke scholarship.

McGimsey says her main piece of advice for D.C. politicians would be to “stay out of football” and toss marketing dollars towards more permanent things. “I was more for using the county’s money to promote our Civil War history,” she says. “Battlefields don’t move, and they don’t threaten to move.”

Read Cheap Seats Daily every weekday at washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk.

Our Readers Say

Just goes to show how the only person to profit would be that idiot Snyder.....and how deluded Jack Evans is.
Why are DC elected officials STILL bending over backwards to bring the Redskins back to DC? Let them rot in PG county and keep their crap practice facility in Dulles...oh, I mean "Ashburn."

The team's been awful for at least a decade, and hasn't shown an inkling of care towards DC. Seriously, where are the news articles about the Redskins "giving back to the community?" What's this? There aren't any? Could it be because the Redskins haven't put any money into DC at all?

Evans is out of his mind if he wants to spend $3 billion in taxpayer money to bring the Redskins back to DC. I can think of dozens of ways in which such funds would be better spent. SHucks, chocolate microscopes, investments in the Mexican Space program and double guitars in the schools would likely be a better investment than $3 billion to bring the 'Skins back to DC.
I've been calling for a boycott since giving up my season tickets about 3 years ago. This owner continues to exhibit a "dark heart" as one of the more astute former B&G players has noted and been ridiculed for saying. There truly is only 1 solution. BOYCOTT anything and everything promoted by the Deminutive Devil of Ashburn. If we are lucky, he'll move his team to LA and we can get an expansion team. I'd rather root for anyone than someone under the employ of this despicable little pile of excrement.
MAYBE BY BUILDING HEADQUATERS AND PRACTICE FACILITY IN DC WE CAN ESTABLISH SOME BETTER COMMUNITY RELATIONS WITH THE TEAM AND SNYDEE WONT BE SO MEGALOMANIACAL.

BUILD FACILITY BY R.F.K. WHICH WILL ALLOW SKINS TO BUILD SOME COMMUNITY EQUITY, PUT IN SOME CONTENGENCIES IN CASE SNYDEE PULL SOME SHIT, TEAM WILL PUT FORTH BETTER EFFORT UNDER NEW COACH RUSS GRIMM, SPLIT NEW STADIUM COSTS, LURE SUPER BOWL!

THE TEAM NEED TO FEEL THE PULSE OF THE CITY THEY REPRESENT! DULLES, ASHBURN, AND LOUDOUN DONT PROVIDE THAT.

ITS TIME FOR THE SKINS TO COME HOME!
Build the training facility, headquarters, hotel and museum on Reservation 13 which is now in Ward 7. Its better than the crap Tommy Wells and Catania have allowed to take root there.
Noodlez couldn't of said it any better anybody who thinks any different isn't a redskin fan and just shut the f. Up. Thanks
I'm ALL FOR paying for new stadium in DC for the NFL football team... as long is it is FULLY FUNDED by taxes/fees increases on sales of tickets, goods, and services at the football field. Let those who want to support this team do so with THEIR tax dollars. I would rather see my tax dollars go to improving public education in DC.
There is absolutely no need to give Danny Boy any MD or DC funding for a new Redskins practice facility.
"THE TEAM NEED TO FEEL THE PULSE OF THE CITY THEY REPRESENT! DULLES, ASHBURN, AND LOUDOUN DONT PROVIDE THAT. ITS TIME FOR THE SKINS TO COME HOME!"

God, could you be more of a victim?

Oh, well. Let's give Snyder however many hundreds of millions of dollars he wants for the privilege of destroying any chance that Reservation 13 might turn into anything other than acres and acres of empty surface parking.

"noodlez" wants to feel the pulse of the Redskins.
If the city maintained ownership of the stadium, I could support this. Revenues from Concerts, Bowl Games and other special events could make it financially lucrative
The HELL the Danny Boy and the Skins! We do not want them in our community! My TAX Dollars needs to be spent on other things other than a BIG OLD NASTY STADIUM OR PRACTICE FACULITY!

JACK EVAN-----YOU OLD FOOL! BUILD A STADIUM IN WARD 2 NOT IN MY COMMUNITY!

I sure hope DC hear what the other county and states say about the shrewd dealings of Dan S and crew. In essences- they are CROOKS!
@oboe-VICTIMIZED SINCE 1972.

THEY WILL ALWAYS BE MY MOB EVEN IF THEY DONT WIN ANOTHER GAME!
EITHER FALL IN LINE OR LAY DOWN WITH THE REST OF THOSE DUSTY ASS CONFUSED INDIVIDUALS.

SKINS FOREVA!!!
@Buddy Kuchta, it's not a question of being a Redskins fan or not. It's a question of being a taxpayer, and I certainly am that.

If Snyder wants to spend his own money to put a stadium or practice facility here, I say let him. I'll look forward to the games. But there's no reason DC should put itself one cent out of pocket for an owner with Snyder's track record of screwing over his civic partners.
Hey "Noodlez"

Bend over and grab your ankles and Danny Boy will be happy for you to "feel the pulse of the Redskins"!
@He's A Sociopath-YAWN!! THE WEAK ASS FAGGIE TALK DOESNT INSPIRE ME AND SHOWS THAT YOU HAVE EXPERTISE IN AN AREA THAT IS PURELY EXCLUSIVE TO YOUR LIFESTYLE.

WATCH IT. YOU DRY SNITCHIN ON YOURSELF SLIM!


THE FOOTBALL GODS WILL SEE FIT THAT THE BURGUNDY AND GOLD WILL COME BACK TO THE CITY.
Not trustworthy, a short guy with a Napoleon complex, build a better team first, then come back to DC you bu m.
iam all for it if my people could some how get to work on some of these$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$projects.
It should be paramount that the Redskins play in DC, and DC should not give to much to Snyder's minions. Snyder id dying for ownership of the new stadium, he is seething at the sight of the Super Bowl being played in Dallas and wants to have it here. He'll never get it at Fedex. Plus the urban appeal of the team playing in DC is much more of a get, than they have playing in the crap suburbs of PG county! I live near Ashburn and would love to see them back in DC where they belong. So people can actually take advantage of mass transit to get to the game. Uhhhh don't tell Danny boy though he will balk at not being able to get revenues from parking. But he wants that stadium in DC so much, now is the time for negotiation. Super Bowl here by the end of the decade is what he is eying.
I say yes,yes,yes!! to bringing the redskins back to DC.This team belongs in the city.The stadium can be built on the grounds of RFK but i do feel that the practice facility should remain in the suburbs.The city is too busy and there is allways construction going on and that isnt the best situation for a team to practice around but more important is the fact that the traffic getting into DC is really bad.Players cant afford to be late getting to practice.You want the most private and safe location for a professional team life football because your outside inputting game plans and exsposed for people to vedio tape your pratices.They moved here from BOSTON to DC not MARYLAND or VAGINIA and the nname says WASHINGTON REDSKINS.

Leave a Comment

Note: HTML tags are not allowed in comments.
Comments Shown. Turn Comments Off.
...