Construction on the state-of-the-art Bons Secours Washington Redskins Training Facility is running smoothly and is scheduled to be completed by June 30, according to Mark Hourigan, president of Hourigan Construction.
Hourigan – along with Redskins’ general manager Bruce Allen, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and several other prominent individuals who were involved with the immense project – spoke on May 20 during a media tour of the nearly-finished facility. About 100 members of the press were in attendance, and could be seen meandering around the building in white hard hats as construction equipment hummed and buzz outdoors.
The $10.8 million facility, which is located at 2401 W. Leigh St., is being built by the Richmond Economic Development Authority. Bons Secours has committed a $3.2 million sponsorship package that allows the health care provider naming rights.
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Training camp is expected to attract more than 100,000 people and bring in about $8.5 million annually.
The West Leigh Street site was one of 12 possible locations, according to Jay Hugo, principal of 3north, the Richmond-based firm that designed the facility. It beat out Sports Backers Stadium, Virginia Union University and City Stadium in what amounted to a sort of “Final Four” of possible training camp locales.
“I don’t think the site could be any better, anywhere,” said Hugo. “And we’re proud to be a part of it.”
That theme – pride – was harkened back to throughout the course of the day by Allen and Mayor Jones.
As the mayor mentioned during an introductory speech, many people justifiably doubted whether a project of that magnitude and audacity could be completed on time.
After all, the groundbreaking took place a mere 18 weeks ago, and the Redskins are set to begin training camp on July 25.
“We are here to show that we are delivering on our promise and that the project is on schedule and on time,” the mayor said. “And anyone who had any doubts about that, we want them to know that the proof is in the pudding.”
“It is a major accomplishment, and we are extremely proud and happy about that today,” he added.
When looking out onto the site’s features and surroundings from the spacious, glass-enclosed second story, it's easy to see why everybody involved with the project is so keen on how things have panned out.
To the west, lively green practice fields – complete with four NFL-regulation goal posts – immediately catch the eye. Beyond the farthest set of uprights, about three-quarters of a mile away, stands an upright brick building with the word “Movieland” spelled out in giant, white lettering across the front. To the south, out yet another window, looms the iconic Science Museum of Virginia, so close in proximity that Robert Griffin III could likely drill the building proper with one of his more lengthy passes.
Speaking of Griffin, Allen -- who punted for the University of Richmond in the mid-'70s - made it clear during a question-and-answer session that it was still too early to tell whether the former second overall pick would be healthy enough to take the field during training camp.
Griffin suffered a partially torn LCL (lateral collateral ligament) in his right knee during a playoff game against the Seahawks this past January.
Allen said Griffin would be subjected to a physical before the start of camp.
So it remains to be seen whether Richmond-area Redskins fans will have the chance to see perhaps the most athletically gifted quarterback in the world in-person and under center this summer.
But what about when Griffin’s teammates pack up their stuff and head out of the River City at the end of August? How will the 15-acre facility and 50,000- square-foot building be put to use during the 48 weeks of the year that the Redskins are elsewhere?
According to Peter Bernard, CEO at Bons Secours Virginia Health Systems, it will be the site of numerous community-building activities. The first floor will house a sports medicine facility that will “focus on the health and wellness of the community” and feature orthopedic specialists, physical therapists and various activities and programs that will be added as the site nears completion. The second floor will feature “four or five primary care physicians,” as well as a clinic. A two-and-a-half-acre park will be accessible to the public and will feature a 500-seat amphitheatre, a water wall, a music garden, and a quarter-mile walking/running course.
“We’re going to be here year-round, not only optimizing the programs we mentioned, but also a number of educational activities in order to take every effort to give back to the community.”
As far as how the influx of an estimated 100,000 fanatics during training camp will affect the outlying counties of Richmond, such as Midlothian, Mayor Jones speculated a healthy business boon -- but avoided delving into any specifics.
“It’s certainly going to be an overflow,” Jones said. “The people in the outlying areas and outlying restaurants and outlying hotels can expect to have their businesses impacted in a positive way.”
Allen stepped in to add that he foresees the “entire region benefiting from the premiere facility.”
“We want to thank the community and everybody that was involved with the project,” said Allen. “And, yes, the Redskins will be coming to a field of dreams.
Training Camp is set to begin on July 25 and is free to the public. Fan appreciation day will take place on Aug. 3.