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City Council Waits on Redskins Analysis

Meanwhile, a food truck brought in by the camp is haunting downtown Richmond.



Nearly six months after the Redskins packed up and left their new training camp in Richmond, it's unclear what financial impact they made.

Mayor Dwight Jones' staff promised to provide an economic impact report of the $11 million project to members of City Council two weeks ago, but delayed its release. That frustrated some council members, including Jon Baliles.

"It shouldn't take this long," Baliles says. "I hope we get the report before the Super Bowl."

Tammy Hawley, the mayor's press secretary, said earlier in the year that the report would come out in October or November. More recently, council members said the administration was expected to deliver the report at a budget meeting two weeks ago.

The staff members said that the report, along with the budget work they had planned to present, wasn't complete.

The city's Finance Department is still analyzing tax data, Hawley says in an email, adding that "early estimates show we met or exceeded the total estimated city tax revenue."

Hawley said she hoped to have at least a preliminary report available by the end of last week. Nothing had been released Monday and the mayor's press office didn't respond to a subsequent request for comment.

The Redskins said attendance at the three-week camp was about 155,000, though there's no way to know how many people in that head count attended more than once.

Some restaurant owners complained the training camp seemed to have no impact on their business, despite running related specials and offering free trolley rides from the camp to nearby businesses.

Some also complained that fans seemed to be eating on-site at national chains brought in by the team, including Famous Dave's Barbecue and Johnny Rockets. And many questioned why none of the city's local food trucks were included.

The city responded that the Redskins' contractual obligations prohibited food trucks, but that officials would try to work out a compromise in coming years.

If city leaders are working to make the camp more inclusive of local businesses, Richmond's food truck operators received a bad omen last month when the city's temporary ice rink opened on Broad Street. The sole vendor at RVA on Ice, a mayoral initiative, is the Johnny Rockets truck from the training camp.

That further irritated City Council members, not to mention food truck operators.

"I don't hate chains or anything," Council President Charles Samuels says, "but we just have such an incredible mix of unique food trucks here."

Hawley says Johnny Rockets was brought in by SMG, the event management company that the city hired to operate the ice rink. SMG also won the contract to operate the training camp. SMG spokeswoman Cindy Creasy notes that the truck is operated by a Johnny Rocket franchisee who owns restaurants in Chesterfield County and Short Pump.

"We feel this arrangement is a win-win situation in working with a local business owner who in return is supporting us in our efforts," Creasy says in an email.

Malcolm Andress, the president of RVA Street Foodies, an organization representing 30 local food truck operators, says it would have been nice if the group had been approached to bid on the contract.

"We just want to be at the table," he says.

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