The headlines Wednesday were about the Washington Redskins moving their training camp to Richmond, Va., in 2013. But training camp is a few weeks in the summer. The bigger news, at least for the people who play or work for the Redskins, is the part of the agreement with Virginia that will supply the team with $4 million to upgrade their training facility in Ashburn, Va. As Rich Campbell writes, the facilities there look pretty lame compared to those found in NFL facilities built more recently. And Redskins coach Mike Shanahan thinks an upgrade might actually help the team from a competitive standpoint:
"You want players to come in here and enjoy coming to work," coach Mike Shanahan said Thursday. "That’s one of the reasons I think the bubble helps so much. We’ve been in there eight days already, so if the field is flooded or if there are conditions where you can’t practice, we can go in there and have a great practice.
"Same thing with the weight room. You want a state-of-the-art weight room. You want state-of-the-art meeting rooms, the technology that some of these new teams have, we want to have that ability as well. We want free agents to come here and say, ‘Hey, what a great facility. I can see me coming here and getting better as a football player.’ And obviously we get better as an organization."
It's a valid point. If a free agent comes in for a visit, he's walking around imagining what it would be like to go to work there every day. And if he sees a dingy little weight room with a few outdated Precor machines and then he goes to visit another team and sees a weight room five times the size with updated everything, that kind of thing can matter. Especially when the offers are similar.
Now, of course, the Redskins are owned by a billionaire who could simply build a better facility himself, or have built a practice bubble years ago so that rained-out practices wouldn't have to be canceled or moved to a local high school gym. You don't become a billionaire by being dumb, and why spend money when you get the states of Maryland and Virginia to fight over you and one of them to just give you the money you need?
The Virginia deal is obviously a sweet one for the Redskins, and the upgrades at the Ashburn facility will make it a more pleasant team for which to play. That can't hurt the on-field product, and it might actually help.