Earlier this week, Deborah Simmons at The Washington Times reported that DC Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilmembers Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Michael Brown (I-At-Large) took a trip to Florida to view the state-of-the-art training facility of the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to a source in Simmons’ article, DC officials hope to encourage the Washington Redskins to build a similar year-round training facility at Reservation 13.
Now I’m a HUGE football fan, but I’m not a fan of this idea for a number of reasons:
- Community Benefit – How will Hill East residents benefit from living next to a large facility that will be used exclusively by a private entity? Certainly the Washington Redskins will benefit. But what about bringing new community amenities to residents? And why should DC give away a prime piece of riverfront property with Metro access to a use that will benefit few?
- Cost – Who is going to pay for the training facility? Are DC taxpayers going to subsidize all or a portion of the cost? It is difficult if not impossible to argue that taxpayers should subsidize a private training facility that will not bring development nor be accessible to the public.
- Current Development Plans – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers training facility covers 33-acres. A similarly sized facility at Reservation 13 would cover almost half the 67-acre site. Constructing such a large facility would radically alter development plans supported by the neighborhood. One likely casualty would be the natural extension of neighborhood streets to the waterfront, continuing the current separation of our neighborhood from the Anacostia River.
The only benefit of the training facility would be the potential end of the aggregation of social services at Reservation 13. But how would the rest of the site be developed? NBC4′s Tom Sherwood has reported that sources say the plan may also include “year-round attractions” such as a Redskins Hall of Fame. Such attractions may draw some pedestrians and development to the site, but would they draw more than the fully developed, retail/residential plan currently envisioned, particularly since half of the site would be dominated by the training facility? I don’t think so.
I understand the strong desire by many to see the Redskins move back to the city. But why do we need to give the team prime real estate to build a training facility? Before decisions are made, city officials need to reach out to neighboring residents and explain why this is in the city’s and the neighborhood’s best interest. I’m certainly not convinced.
Please post your thoughts below. Do you support building a Redskins training facility at Reservation 13? Am I missing the potential benefits of such a facility?