By Ashley Short
There has been a glow to Richmond lately. These past few weeks have turned the city streets burgundy and gold, and display them proudly. The Washington Redskins have a new second home right here in the capital city. The Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center is hosting a 17-day training camp for the players and their coaches, while also attracting fans not just locally but from all over the country just to watch their favorite players train. Excitement and anticipation has spread like wildfire for all things Redskins.
Not only have they made our home their home, but they’ve also acted accordingly by giving to the community. The Redskins’ Cheerleaders graciously did a cheerleading clinic with 250 girls from the city of Richmond. Young girls, ages 4 to 17, filled the coliseum floor while wearing yellow and burgundy cheer camp shirts. They learned dance and cheer routines and chants which were led by four professional Redskins’ cheerleaders. Afterwards, they had a Q&A session with the cheerleaders and the girls to help connect with them and talk about topics beyond cheerleading. Also, four Richmond City high schools: Armstrong, John Marshall, Thomas Jefferson, and George Wythe will have the opportunity to receive the maximum of $10,000 for their football teams through a raffle system. Each team’s goal is to sell a minimum of 500 tickets and whoever sells the most wins the grand prize. There will also be 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place prizes. All four football teams will be located in the front entrance of the training camp at different times and dates trying to sell $20 raffle tickets to those who want to support. Call the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation for more information at (703)675-0782.
The fire of anticipation sparked in the city when Robert Griffin III and Dan Snyder, the Redskins’ owner, were spotted in the locally known Tobacco Company Restaurant. The Redskins are here! The Redskins are here! Obviously, that won’t be the only spotting of the players in the city, but it’s just exciting seeing RGIII eating at probably one of your favorite restaurants. The city will be buzzing all summer over such occurrences. Social media has shown that the players are just as happy to be here as the fans. Redskins’ long snapper, Nick Sundberg, posted on twitter “Gotta love the scenery driving through VA, sure beats the Phoenix desert. See you in about an hour Richmond.” along with a picture of the road. RGIII tweeted, “Been here for a couple hrs and can’t stop saying….RICH WHAT??? RICHMOND!!! Thanks Coach Carter.” Others posted that they couldn’t sleep from being anxious and excited.
Day one of the first day of training showed that Richmond was serious about their loyalty and commitment to their favorite team. Many camped out overnight just to be first in line to enter the training camp but Ms. Diane Portee, a grandmother, obtained the title as first in line. She only had two hours of sleep and managed to get to the training center at 1:30 a.m., making that a six and a half hour wait until the center opened up to the public. If that’s not true dedication, then I don’t know what is. Richmonders tweeted the incredible sight of many others waiting in line since the wee hours of the morning. Anticipation exploded when crowds flooded in after security gave the okay to open up. With an estimation of 10,000 fans that came in and out of the camp, it set the record for the largest crowd any NFL team’s first day of training camp has ever experienced. A gift shop, food vendors, and activity areas add to the experience. Redskins’ fever definitely overpowered the sun’s heat.
For those who have yet to make a visit, there is a section at the training camp just for the fans to watch the players train. Fan Appreciation day is on August 3rd and you don’t want to miss out on that. Last year’s Fan Appreciation Day at the old training camp in Ashburn, VA, attracted 25,000 fans, but certainly Richmond can top that. Festivities will include performances by the official Redskins’ cheerleaders and band. The team will also participate in a scrimmage. You may want to bring lawn chairs or blankets to make viewing more comfortable because bleachers are not provided. Food and drinks will be available to purchase on site. There will be events occurring for women sponsored by WOW, the Redskins’ official women’s fan club and activities for kids sponsored by the Redskins’ Kids Club and Play 60, the NFL’s youth fitness initiative. For more information and a full detailed schedule of the training camp, please visit http://www.redskins.com/news-and-events/training-camp/schedule.html.
The Science Museum of Virginia, located in front of the training center, has a new exhibit for the summer which includes football science. You can bring your family to learn about the physics and science aspect of football. Three Lombardi trophies, that celebrate Super Bowl victories by the Redskins, will be put on display for museum guests starting July 30. To accommodate an expected large number of guests, the museum has opened additional parking spaces.
The effect of the Redskins Training Camp on Richmond will be huge. Tourism and business will have a noticeable boost in the city. Restaurants around town have shown their Redskins’ pride by offering specials, discounts, and some even make trolleys available to their customers to and from the training camp. For those who want to avoid the hassles of driving, the training center is biker friendly with Richmond 2015 offering free bike valet right outside the gates on Leigh St. They will valet, watch, and retrieve all bicycles while you enjoy your day at the camp. Drivers should be very cautious of the area around the camp, especially when not visiting the camp. Be knowledgeable of the practice times and plan ahead of time or make sure you have extra time to get to your destination. Visit this website for traffic and parking information, http://trainingcamp.blogs.timesdispatch.com/2013/07/21/travel-around-richmond-will-be-affected-by-redskins-camp/.