RICHMOND — The Washington Redskins and the City of Richmond have begun discussions about restructuring the eight-year contract that brings the Redskins to town each summer for training camp.
Under the current agreement, the Redskins are paid $500,000 per year, either in cash or in-kind services, to come to Richmond.
Now in Year 5, the Redskins have pushed back against the characterization of the deal as good for the team but not for the city. They released documents to the Times-Dispatch that show the team has directly contributed more than $500,000 annually to the city, both in direct tax revenues and charitable contributions to Richmond Public Schools.
On Tuesday, the team announced a donation of $60,000 in sporting goods to Richmond city schools. The Redskins are also paying for a counselor to be in each of the city’s five public high schools.
Those figures don’t include the initial investment of $11 million in the facility itself, which was funded in part by giving the Westhampton school site to Bon Secours.
“It’s tough to measure [the impact of the deal], and that’s unfortunately the challenge with economic development deals is how exactly do you get a measurement,” Superintendent Tommy Kranz said. “But I think this has been significant for our students, I think it’s been significant for the Richmond public school system, and we really appreciate everything the Redskins have done.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney confirmed that the city and Redskins are in discussions on a new deal.
“The current deal is not the deal I would have negotiated with the Redskins,” he said. “But every day, the Redskins and my team work to make the deal a little bit better.
“In recent weeks we’ve discussed how we can make the deal better for Richmond. I’m optimistic about where those talks will take us.”
Redskins president Bruce Allen said re-framing the deal is a matter of perception. He said the deal has been a success for all sides so far.
“We know the economics,” Allen said. “Economically, it’s been very good for the city. It costs us more to be here as opposed to Redskins Park. It costs us a lot more, to travel. It doesn’t take a CPA to figure that out.
“But I think it’s been great for the community. I can tell by the events — we’ve had more of them. They’ve benefited greatly from us being here.”
The deal has been a popular political punching bag, particularly the $500,000 contribution.
The hope was to cover the contribution through services and sponsorships, but the cash amount has been significant in every year of the deal. Last year, the Richmond Economic Development Authority paid the Redskins $138,519.
The team agreed to defer $92,000 of the owed money to the 2017 bill, as a gesture of goodwill to the new administration.
Starting in 2016, the team quit announcing daily attendance numbers at the camp, which have fallen well short of the first year. In the final year attendance was announced, weekday crowds consisted of about 5,000 people — in 2017, the crowds have seemed slightly more sparse, though the team has added a number of themed days to attempt to boost attendance.
Allen disputed the characterization of crowds as lower, and said he wants the focus of the deal to be on the community impact, not the financials.
“I think it’s been good for the team, and it’s been great for the kids in the community and Redskins fans from North Carolina and southern Virginia — it’s been a dream for them,” Allen said.
It’s not known how the renegotiation of the deal would affect either the money owed or the term of the deal.