Redskins training camp’s economic impact weighed

Posted on Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

They weren’t winners on the field this NFL season, but, according to City of Richmond officials, the Washington Redskins’ 23-day stay in the RVA was an economic victory for the area.

Redskins fan Lyndon Tackett dons a full headdress at the team’s inaugural training camp in Richmond.

Redskins fan Lyndon Tackett dons a full headdress at the team’s inaugural training camp in Richmond.

A report released Monday in conjunction with Richmond Region Tourism and the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU, estimated the Redskins’ Training Camp activities at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center behind the Science Museum of Virginia had an economic impact of $10.5 million.

Surveys were collected among camp attendees. The camp attracted just over 165,000 visits over 3 1/2 weeks, much more than the projected 100,000 predicted by the city a year earlier.

“The tax data that we’ve collected along with this survey information shows that the Training Camp’s impact on the city of Richmond and the surrounding area surpassed our early estimates,” Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones said. “Coupled with the tremendous earned media exposure for the city’s brand, valued in the tens of millions (of dollars), we had a tremendous first year that we believe can only continue to get better.”

The term “surrounding area” also includes Hanover County. In a follow-up to our story during camp last summer about if, and how, the expected economic windfall would reach county businesses, the Herald-Progress spoke by email with Hanover Economic Development Director Edwin Gaskin, who had reviewed the study.

“Hanover County spending data was not broken out specifically, therefore I cannot quantitatively assess the actual percentage of spending that found its way to Hanover specifically,” Gaskin noted. “That being said, I think we can all intuitively agree that Hanover specifically was likely a minor beneficiary of this economic impact, given the short operating season of the camp and the distance of the camp from our commercial offerings.”

It was widely known that now-former Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, fired last week after four seasons, was a major proponent of the Richmond site in order to bring his team together away from home distractions. This led some to wonder if his dismissal could lead to a suddenly-shortened stay in the area for the Redskins. Accompanying the study’s release Monday was assurance from team Executive Vice President Bruce Allen that the team is here to stay.

“We look forward to continuing our efforts in Richmond in the future, both on and off the practice field,” Allen said.

Redskins star quarterback Robert Griffin III signs autographs for fans.

Redskins star quarterback Robert Griffin III signs autographs for fans.

The original agreement between the city, the team, and Bon Secours was for an eight-year stay. Keeping the promise is vital for areas like Hanover to be able to take advantage of current and possible future partnerships to grow economic benefits within the county.

“Hanover works very closely with Richmond Region Tourism, who actively promotes county hotels, attractions, and museums, dining, shopping and other visitor-focused activities…as a key component of the Richmond Region product,” Gaskin explained.

The development team will have had a full year to promote county offerings to football fans who return to Richmond, or visit for the first time, come late July.

Gaskin welcomes the other side benefit of media value as the likes of ESPN and NFL Network spend three weeks ending reports along the lines of, “…with the Redskins in Richmond, Virginia…”

“This publicity translates to increased awareness of the Richmond Region as a world-class destination for leisure, sports, and convention business. We always welcome good press about the region, as folks are attracted to the area and such increased traffic almost always impacts Hanover County in a positive way,” Gaskin said.

The report broke out spending from overnight visitors, who averaged spending $887.89 during their area stay. Fans attended from all 50 states. There was no admission to Training Camp sessions.

The Economic Development team, as well as area businesses, are already at work trying to increase that figure, increase the number of visitors, and show why their dollars should be spent in Hanover.

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