City leaders consider new uses for former Commanders’ training facility

Tuesday, Mayor Levar Stoney also reacted to the news that taxpayers will be footing the bill that brought the team here until 2033.
Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 2:52 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s no secret the Washington Commanders won’t return to Richmond for any training.

But in the wake of the decision to pull out, city taxpayers will be reminded of the endeavor for another decade while city leaders are now trying to figure out what comes next.

“Breaking news, the Commanders aren’t coming back to Richmond,” said Mayor Levar Stoney, City of Richmond.

Tuesday, Stoney also reacted to news that taxpayers will be footing the bill that brought the team here until 2033.

“I think, and I fully understand, why some city residents feel they have not received that return on investment,” he said.

At the time, then-Mayor Dwight Jones and city council pushed forward a deal to bring the Washington Commanders training facility to the Scott’s Addition section of Richmond.

It was criticized at the time, and construction costs went over budget.

“When you talk about the franchise that’s just only practicing here 10 to 13, maybe 14 days out of the year, maybe is this a good use of taxpayer dollars? You know, to build a facility that no longer they will be occupying,” said Stoney.

As of 2018, the city had only paid about $1.9 million on the loan and refinanced the balance. So city hall is making payments until 2033 and at a price tag of about $700,000 each year.

At the time of the deal, the city’s economic development authority had hoped money from sponsorships and leasing the space at other times would cover that big bill.

“But the reality is this, there is a better use of funds, and now we can begin to talk about best possible usage of that space,” said Mike Jones, Richmond City Councilor.

Now current city leaders left holding the bag are trying to figure out what can be done with the land while also applying lessons learned from a decade-old lousy deal.

“So every time we consider an economic development endeavor, we have to consider whether or not this is a good use of taxpayer dollars that will bring a return for the city, for the long-term,” said Stoney.

The mayor also says the fact that the land is next to a pair of museums should also be a factor in any final decision on the land’s use.