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Something Squirrelly in Redskins Deal?

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Question: Is there anything else city officials failed to mention in the great, ongoing bungle that is the Washington Redskins new training camp facility?

That's a trick question. There are a full six months before the Skins open camp in Richmond, so take a deep breath. A hundred trees were chopped down, yes, and some West End residents continue to be perturbed by the Westhampton Elementary School deal to Bon Secours. But we'd be remiss to exclude the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Buried in the minutes of the Planning Commission's Urban Design Committee meeting held Dec. 6, city officials presented plans that involve using the Flying Squirrels' parking lot at The Diamond to shuttle between 3,000 and 5,000 fans daily to and from the training camp, which is behind the Science Museum of Virginia.

No one bothered to contact the baseball team about that. In the meeting minutes, Jane Ferrara, deputy director of economic and community development, informs the Urban Design Committee that "they haven't spoken with the Squirrels yet."

This may or may not be a problem. During the time of last year's training camp, the Squirrels played nine home games, most of which started at 7:05 p.m. At last year's training camp in Ashburn, the Redskins held open practices in the afternoons, closing the gates at 6 p.m. This year's training camp schedule hasn't been released, but it's likely to start the last week of July and continue for three weeks into August.

Big deal? Probably not, says Todd "Parney" Parnell, vice president and chief operating officer for the Squirrels. "I don't recall us having any conversation to this point," he says, adding that he isn't worried about the parking issue.

The Richmond Metropolitan Authority, which owns The Diamond, also hasn't heard a peep. "The RMA staff here has not had any conversations with city officials concerning the sharing of the parking lot at The Diamond with the Redskins," says Linda McElroy, a spokeswoman for the authority.

Last question: Are the Squirrels even a little miffed that no one bothered to call, considering the Redskins are getting a $10 million training camp facility and they can't even get a break on rent at The Diamond, much less a new stadium promised by city officials three years ago?

"We're looking forward to the Redskins being here," Parnell says.

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