The city getting hosed by the third-wealthiest franchise in the NFL? Food truck controversies? Lawmakers balking at expenditures they already signed off on? Most local businesses seeing zero increases in sales? Everyone complaining about everything? Huge men moving an oblong pigskin down a field?
The Redskins are back, baby!
Last Thursday marked the first day of the third year of the Washington Redskins Training Camp in Richmond. To say nothing of the previous two seasons of on-field ineptitude (3-13 in 2013, 4-12 in 2014), the training camp itself has been a financial boon — to the Redskins organization. But has its presence benefitted the city and our local economy? Well, it depends on how you see things. Let's have a look.
The Big Money: The Richmond Economic Development Authority originally offered $500,000 annually to the Skins to move training camp here — money the authority expected to make through office leasing and events at the glossy new training center. Unfortunately, as Style, the Times-Dispatch and other media outlets have reported, officials have yet to make that much money, and last year had to come up with the amount they were short, $285,538.
Meanwhile, an oft-cited Virginia Commonwealth University study says the team itself sold $2.5 million in on-site food and merchandise in 2013 — money that stayed with the Redskins. This is a team whose worth Forbes puts at $2.4 billion. Also, it should be noted that the state gave the Redskins a $4 million grant in 2012 as part of the deal to move. Some local lawmakers aren't pleased at all, but those fussbudgets clearly don't understand the value of watching bored professional athletes walk through drills with no pads on for hours on end.
The Unseen Benefits: Strip clubs in Richmond will profit during this time period. Overgrown children with oodles of disposable income and testosterone oozing from their ears enjoy paying women to dance in next to nothing. This isn't a stereotype. Lots of pro athletes are attracted to such entertainers. It's been this way for a long time and it will remain this way. Listen, spurring the economy a 50-stack of singles at a time is still spurring the economy. I honestly think a study needs to be done on NFL teams and strip-club-onomics.
The Unseen Expenses: Last year the league's ownership voted to extend goal posts by five feet in an effort to clarify whether a field goal actually went in. Makes sense, right? Well those five additional feet, a relatively meaningless NFL rule tweak, have cost Richmond taxpayers $4,353, the T-D reported — money that the Redskins didn't reimburse. Personally, I'd rather see that money used to send an extraordinary Richmond teacher on an all-expenses-paid trip to Cancun.
Player Outreach: If history is any indication, D'Angelo Hall and other Redskin veterans most likely will be out stimulating economic development and drinking at the bars in Shockoe Slip. If there's one thing you learn after years spent toiling in the league, it's that downing cherry bombs is the only way to prepare for a punishing 16-game season.
Owner Outreach: Redskins owner Dan Snyder was seen in the Fan buying a group of attractive Richmond ladies shots of expensive tequila during the Redskins' first training camp here. So everything you heard about him being an arrogant, money-grubbing jerk who's run your beloved 'Skins into the ground probably is untrue.
Make Your Mark: The city still owes money on the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Camp, and to that end, it's still trying to sell "Legacy Bricks" for $99. These expensive bricks are engraved and put in a walkway at the complex. So you're telling me that for only $99 I can be immortalized on a walkway at an underused, glorified office park? It's worth it because now I can proudly point out to my friends that "Jack Lauterback Don't Hail to the H8ters."
But seriously, I'm glad our local NFL ball club is in town. It makes Richmond seem bigger, and unlike bigger goal posts and entrance to the local adult entertainment facility, you can't put a price on that.
Jack Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth.