The Washington Redskins haven’t been doing very well lately on the playing field. Maybe a change of scenery for practices is in order.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s office confirmed Wednesday night that the mayor and two council members secretly traveled to Tampa last week to inspect the training facilities of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as first reported by the Washington Times.
News4 reported that it was part of an aggressive effort to have the Redskins move from their northern Virginia training facilities in Ashburn to the old RFK site in Washington.
On Friday's daytrip to Florida, Mayor Gray was joined by D.C. Council Finance and Revenue Chairman Jack Evans and at-large Council member Michael Brown. The mayor’s office said everyone paid his own way and that they flew commercially. (Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder has a private plane.)
The trip was arranged and led by former Redskins player Brig Owens.
The Tampa Bay facility is one of the most modern in the NFL. It also happens to be where Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen worked before joining the team.
Asked about the secret trip, the Redskins' front office said only to News4 that, “We are exploring all options.” It would not confirm even that the trip occurred.
The long-term hope of city officials is to get the popular football team to build a new stadium on the site of RFK. Landing the training facility could help make the city’s case for the new stadium.
Sources said along with a training facility, which could take a year or two to build, the redevelopment plan could include a Redskins’ Hall of Fame museum and other year-round attractions for fans. It also could possibly include an upscale hotel that the team and visitors would use on game days.
If the team were to relocate training facilities, city officials believe the Redskins’ presence would help draw other commercial and residential development to the far Capitol Hill area.
And a footnote -- mainly important to reporters who try to keep up with the mayor’s activities: The mayor’s office Wednesday night was “profoundly apologizing” for a misleading entry on the mayor’s schedule last week. It said he had meetings in the John A. Wilson Building. The public schedule, of course, made no mention of the secret trip. Aides to the mayor said the staff was just trying to head off publicity, not trying to seriously mislead reporters.