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THE WASHINGTON Redskins may be named for the U.S. capital and they may play in Maryland but "we consider them a Virginia company," said Gov. Bob McDonnell. Considering last Wednesday's announcement, he's justified in making that claim.
The 'Skins said they'll be keeping their corporate headquarters in Ashburn; in fact, they'll be upgrading and expanding their presence there with a $30 million investment. What's more, in a smart marketing ploy, they're moving their training camp, beginning in 2013, to an as-yet-to-be identified location in Richmond.
Why the Virginia capital? Old-school coaches--and that perfectly describes Mike Shanahan--like to remove their players from the distractions of home and media and take them away to summer camp. The 'Skins have a long and diverse history in this regard. They've traveled as far as Spokane, Washington (1940) and San Diego (1941-1944) for camp. More recently, Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., hosted them (1963-1994) as did Frostburg University in Frostburg, Md., (1995-1999).
But since 2003, the three-week camp has been held at Redskins Park in Ashburn. Now, the team is ready for a change, and moving the camp deeper into Virginia will strengthen the team's ties to its Old Dominion fans in a way that moving the camp closer to Ravens, Steelers, or Eagles territory never would.
Support for the 'Skins is strong in Virginia, particularly in the Hampton Roads area. Keeping that fan base clearly is in the team's best interest. But of course, the Richmond deal benefits Virginia's economy as well: Estimates are that the three-week camp will generate $5 million to $6 million in economic activity for Richmond.
To seal the deal, the state (and local governments) sweetened the pot with a $4 million performance-based grant to the 'Skins, as well as a city-proffered $400,000 grant. Loudoun County, too, chips in about $400,000 a year to help the 'Skins keep loving their location.
But that's all relatively small potatoes: The Redskins, one of the richest NFL teams, generates at least $200 million in economic activity each year in the state, and pays some $9.8 million in state and local taxes. That's why it's good business for both to affirm the slogan, "Virginia is for [Redskins] lovers."