Richmond City Council members are formally registering their opposition to renewing the deal that brought the Washington Redskins’ annual summer training camp to Richmond in 2013.
Eight of nine council members have signed on as co-patrons of a resolution indicating they would support a continuation of the camp beyond the initial eight-year period only if the Redskins, the NFL’s third-richest team, agree to pay millions of dollars to cover the cost of the training facility the city built the team in 2013.
They also want an end to the annual $500,000 payment the city agreed to make to the team to cover its operating costs while in the city.
The position they have outlined echoes — but is more specific — than the stance staked out by Mayor Levar Stoney, who has called for the deal to be renegotiated but has not specified what terms he’d be willing to accept.
In the end, neither the mayor nor the council gets to decide — at least officially.
The way the economic development deal was structured, it’s being administered by the city’s Economic Development Authority, an independent agency whose members are appointed by the council and advised by the city’s economic development officials. That said, Julious Smith, who chairs the EDA, said it will likely act only in consultation with city administrators.
The contract the EDA signed with the Redskins calls for the EDA and the team to negotiate any extension beyond the initial eight-year term by July 1 this year. The team is going into its sixth year in Richmond this summer.
As currently structured, the EDA agreed to pay $500,000 annually to the Redskins to cover their cost of training in Richmond.
And earlier this year, City Council members learned the EDA is unlikely to be able to repay the $10 million loan the city granted it back in 2012 to build the facility, which after cost overruns came to more than $11 million.
Officials had initially projected that sponsorships and facility rental revenues would generate enough revenue to allow the EDA to repay the city after five years. Instead, it was able to repay only $1.5 million and taxpayers are picking up the rest, with the council reluctantly agreeing last month to pay $750,000 a year for the next 15 years to avoid defaulting on a debt.
Those are the payments the council is hoping the team will take over if it stays.
“Ultimately, we don’t want there to be a need for our general fund to offer a subsidy,” said Councilman Parker Agelasto, who initially proposed the measure.