The land on Reservation 13, a 67-acre site along the bank of the Anacostia River, will likely serve many functions in the years to come, but playing host to a Washington Redskins training facility won’t be one of them.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) announced this week that the NFL team’s headquarters and practice facility in Ashburn, Va., will receive a $30 million facelift. And beginning in 2013, the franchise’s training camp will spend its next eight years in Richmond, according to the Redskins fan blog Hogs Haven.
For District residents who had bristled at the idea of placing a training facility on the land, it’s a victory and a hopeful sign.
Local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Brian Flahaven, a prominent opponent of the idea, expressed his satisfaction on his blog.
“As I said back in November 2011, a Redskins training facility would have brought little, if any, positive benefits to the city and Hill East,” he wrote.
He added that he was looking forward to the land being used to serve the broader vision laid out in a nearly decade-old master plan.
Equally vocal in his opposition to a possible collaboration between the NFL franchise and the District of Columbia, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells’ office applauded the announcement as benefiting all parties involved.
“[We] could not be happier for the Redskins and the state of Virginia,” said Wells Chief of Staff Charles Allen, adding that a practice facility would not have been the best use of the land or public money.
While the announcement is still fresh and constituents haven’t had a great deal of time to chime in, Allen told Roll Call that the decision is consistent with where Wells and a broad swath of residents in his ward have stood on the issue.
“Our constituents have pretty uniformly opposed a training facility at that location,” Allen said.
The views of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilmembers Yvette Alexander, Jack Evans, and Michael Brown had ranged from open-minded to supportive. Still, concrete plans to establish the facility on the land never materialized.
In an email today, Gray’s communications director, Pedro Ribeiro, seemed to downplay the announcement by pegging it as a single issue among many discussed between the District of Columbia and the Redskins.
“As we’ve said many times, the District has had on again, off again conversations with the Redskins over the years about a variety of issues. We expect that will continue,” he wrote.
Alexander signed off on the team’s decision to relocate its training camp to Richmond, pointing out its close proximity to the nation’s capital. But she remains disappointed that the team continues to practice and play in every city not named Washington.
“They’re not the Ashburn Redskins or the Landover Redskins. So ideally it would be great if they were in Washington,” Alexander said.