RICHMOND, Va. -- Washington Football Team's president toured a community center in Richmond on Thursday in addition to making a significant donation to help improve facilities at the center.
“The greatest fans of the Washington Football Team are right here in Richmond!!”
While mayors can be a little biased, Richmond's Levar Stoney thinks the current training camp home for D.C.’s team is the only one they need away from Ashburn.
“We’re going to continue to love them no matter what,” Stoney said of the team. “But if you want some real good love before the season? You’ve gotta come to Richmond! You can’t get that up in Ashburn!”
The eight-year deal, one of which was canceled by COVID, comes to an end on Saturday. While the team has more pressing issues at hand, namely finding a home for a new stadium and settling on a permanent new nickname, those in charge plan on talking with the city about continuing their relationship.
“Because of the way that my team and Coach (Rivera) have continued to engage in the community, we have so much willingness to engage in those conversations,” said Jason Wright, the Washington Football Team president. “We’ll get there when we get there but we’ve got a few other timely things going on right now”.
“It’s a priority for us,” Stoney said. “We know that the residents of the great city of Richmond love having the Washington Football Team in town. With this new regime in charge, I’m optimistic, hell, I’m bullish that Washington will continue to be here.”
Wright and Stoney appeared together at the Hotchkiss Community Center in Northside where Wright presented a $75,000 check on behalf of the team’s Charitable Foundation to help in the revitalization of the center. Each year, the Washington Football Team has contributed in some way back to the Richmond community, which Wright believes is an important investment in the communities that support the team so much.
“Everything should have some sort of long-term impact built into it. That’s the way we run a business that we can be proud of,” Wright said. “When none of us are here, we can point back and say look, that good thing is still going.”
Wright was joined by former Washington and Richmond Spider running back Tim Hightower, yet another connection between D.C. and the River City.
“Communication was a lot tougher under the former regime,” Stoney said.
The last time the WFT was here for camp, Bruce Allen was team president and Jay Gruden was the head coach.
“Under the new leadership, the doors and lines of communication are wide open. So we’re going to continue to talk.”
Richmond no longer pays the team $500,000 to be here, an arrangement first worked out by former Governor Bob McDonnell and former Mayor Dwight Jones, which was a source of discontent for many in and out of the city administration.
“Now that that is different, Richmond is the recipient of dollars instead of giving dollars shows that they value the relationship and value the fans as well,” Stoney continued.
Stoney was asked about a possible scenario with the Commonwealth to bring both the training camp back to Richmond and a stadium to Northern Virginia. He has not been made aware of any such plans but noted that he'd be a big proponent of both things happening.
“I don’t see the two being tied to one another” Stoney said. “I think we here in Virginia have something to offer whether it’s training camp or a future stadium.”