The Washington Redskins are coming to Richmond. In a unanimous vote late Monday night, Richmond City Council approved the deal that will bring the Redskins training camp to town next summer.
The meeting was long and contentious at times as council members and the public talked for hours about how this deal was done and what exactly it means for the city. It seems changes to the deal also changed people's minds.
Despite the holiday weekend, it was game time for several council members, the mayor's office, Bon Secours and the Redskins. Without these enhancements, it is possible the mayor wouldn't have been able to get all the votes he needed to bring the training camp here.
"Two heads are better than one and that's what we tried to do with this sit down," explained Councilman Chris Hilbert, who led the negotiations. "Hence the agreement, I think we do have a better deal here."
Most of the issues with the deal surround the Westhampton School and money for Richmond Public Schools. Many people who spoke Monday night say the new economic development package worked out alleviates their concerns.
"This exercise, this paper gives us an opportunity to reset some priorities here," said Councilman Marty Jewell.
Bon Secours now would have to give $100,000 per year for ten years for capital schools projects, would have to pay a higher lease price of $33,000 for the Westhampton property and would have to focus on the historic nature of that building.
Still, some maintain this deal was not done properly.
"I'm thrilled we're getting something," said Richmond School Board member Kim Gray. "I think it's an acknowledgement that we should've been a forethought and hopefully we will not be an afterthought in future deals like these."
Redskins officials acknowledged challenges.
"I understand that there's people who'll be critical at times," General Manager Bruce Allen told us after the vote. "We run the wrong play on third down sometimes we hear from the fans."
But, Mayor Dwight Jones says now it's time to move the ball down the field.
"We want to be known as a live place not just a place of history," he added. "History is wonderful. We embrace that but we also want people to know that this is a vibrant city."
This isn't over yet. Bon Secours has to go through the special use permit process in order to make any changes to Westhampton. That means there will be public comment. Also, council is set to meet next Monday to consider other amendments.
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