Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Remembering the Bogus Search for the Redskins Training Facility

Hail to that $50,000 contribution
Last year, when the deal that has brought the Washington Redskins’ preseason training camp to Richmond was being put together, I was being put off by the strange way it was happening. After a deal to build it in Richmond had been made, THEN you choose the site?

Over the summer months and into the fall, I thought the mysterious process of selecting a site for the Redskins was a sham and should have been challenged by the candidates running for City Council. Basically, now I’m saying that all along the delay -- ostensibly about a search -- was more about timing the announcement to force City Council to have to act without the proper time to study the plan.  

Unfortunately, the timid candidates all stood aside and let the mayor’s office have its way. Then, sure enough, when the deal's details were unveiled in October, City Council was told it had to OK the pact, pronto, or lose it.

Now, with all those old trees gone and the buildings all built, the Redskins camp is set to open tomorrow. While lessons should have been learned from how things got done, it’s too late to oppose what brought the Redskins to Richmond.

So, while I have my doubts about City Hall’s blue-sky predictions about how many tourists are really going to show up to watch football practices, every day, I hope the adventure is successful for Richmond in the long run. At this point, pushing sour grapes off the table, I can see no good reason in wishing for failure.

Last summer, hoping to goose the councilmanic candidates into making it a campaign issue, I wrote several pieces that questioned/mocked the site selection process as being a sham.  It didn’t work. Then, as the sitting Council was about to vote yes or no on the deal, I posted this piece, with links to some articles about the way the deal went down.

Now I laugh when I see local politicians claiming they opposed the Redskins deal from the start. Because, I know that if they did, they pretty much kept it a secret when it counted. And, I laugh when I remember that the Redskins donated $50,000 to Gov. Bob McDonnell's campaign effort in 2009.  

Nonetheless, as a lifelong Redskins fan, now I say, “Hail to the Redskins.” And, in parting, I ask this:

Given what we’ve learned about how he operates, are we going to let Mayor Dwight Jones shoehorn a baseball stadium into Shockoe Bottom?

-- Photo from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

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