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What does Washington Commanders sale mean for the team's training facility in Richmond?

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jul 21, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- These days at the Bon Secours Training Center, where the Washington Commanders hosted training camp for years, the only gridiron greats locked in heated competition you can find — at least on a hot Friday — are a pair of sisters, on summer break from school, battling it out on the obstacle course.

"It’s pretty fun. They like Ninja Warrior type stuff and Floor is Lava type stuff. Better to climb here than climb in the house right?” said Mary-Ellen Suttle, their mother.

It is the first time they've ever used the facility, now more than a year since NFL players last used the space for training.

"We’d never been to training camp when it was going on, so missed out on that," Suttle said.

The deal to bring Commanders camp to Richmond dates back — two team name changes — to 2013. The economic boom city leaders at the time envisioned for the three week period when the team was in town never fully materialized, although fan excitement and turnout was sizable the first couple of years.

Now that the Commanders have been sold to a new ownership group, any prospects of camp returning seem completely out the window, since no one with the new ownership group — or Richmond leadership for that matter — was involved in the initial deal.

Even well before the NFL approved the $6 billion deal, both the team and the city said training camp in Richmond is no more.

“That ship has sailed,” Richmond Economic Development Authority board chair John Molster told the Richmond Times-Dispatach last month.

The EDA and Bon Secours control the lease to the land.

A city official told CBS 6 they are working to determine what will happen with the space in the future. While no time frame is officially set, the city plans to begin talking with both "internal and external" partners about what the best use for the space looks like for people who live and visit Richmond.

Molster told the RTD the space will likely be utilized in some public-facing capacity.

In the meantime, the city said the Training Facility will continue in its current use.

Bon Secours works with some physical therapy patients there and dozens of events are hosted there each year — some small, some large.

The Iron Blossom Music Festival will be held there next month.

Suttle's limited football fandom aside — "I did watch 'The Quarterback' on Netflix, which got me a little bit interested," she said with a laugh — she sees the prime real estate as an opportunity for the city to develop a new space for families.

"I would love to see more things like this for kids and families. You could do like a high ropes course here," she said. "[The field] would just be fun to have a place for kids to run around. You could do sprinklers out there; you could do splash pad."

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