SMG likely to take over Washington Redskins training camp

Fans work to get their images during morning walk through practice at Washington Redskins training facility in Richmond VA Mon. July 29, 2013.
Photo: mmartz

Fans work to get their images during morning walk through practice at Washington Redskins training facility in Richmond VA Mon. July 29, 2013.

The company that manages the Richmond Coliseum, Landmark Theater and Richmond CenterStage could soon have a new city facility for its management portfolio: the newly opened Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center.

The Richmond Economic Development Authority is in “an advanced state of negotiations” with SMG Richmond to manage the 40,000-square-foot building, football training facility and adjacent park, authority Chairman Richard Johnson said Monday.

Dolly Vogt, regional manager for SMG Richmond, said, “It’s pretty close to execution.”

The authority did not undertake a formal competitive bidding process for the management contract, but Johnson said it spoke to “a number of parties” as potential managers before settling on the local affiliate of Philadelphia-based SMG.

“It’s been worked on over the last several months,” he said.

Tammy Hawley, press secretary for Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, said a formal request for proposals is not required by law because the authority “can enter directly into contracts.”

“The EDA is a separate political entity,” said Richmond City Council President Charles R. Samuels. “They play by different rules than the city would have to play by.”

However, Samuels said he was dismayed he was not told of the contract discussions over managing the center until contacted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Monday.

“I think communication is so important,” he said. “City Council as a whole ought to be kept in the loop.”

The training center was built on a whirlwind schedule to be ready to open last week for the Redskins’ preseason camp under an eight-year agreement between the NFL franchise and the city.

Bon Secours Richmond Health System is the chief sponsor of the camp and chief tenant of the center under a complex economic development deal approved by City Council in late December. The hospital system will lease space in the center for a sports medicine and men’s health facility, as well as a primary care clinic.

“All of the space is not leased yet,” Vogt said.

The Economic Development Authority is responsible for managing year-round operations of the training center on 17 acres of property leased from the state on West Leigh Street, behind the Science Museum of Virginia.

When the Redskins are not using the $10 million center for the three-week summer camp, the two NFL practice fields and related facilities will be available for youth sports programming, tournaments and other revenue-generating uses, as well as a guaranteed minimum number of days for use by the Richmond public school system. The city also envisions programming to take advantage of the center’s proximity to the Science Museum and the Children’s Museum of Richmond.

A 2½-acre park, to be built on the property for an additional $800,000, will include a 500-seat amphitheater that also will be available for programming throughout the year for concerts, performances and festivals. The park also will include a running trail and exercise circuit, a children’s music garden and a water wall.

SMG has managed the Coliseum for the city for more than 25 years, including 11 years in a joint venture with Johnson Inc., which Vogt said is not involved in the pending contract for the training center.

Last year, Richmond extended the Coliseum management contract for 30 months as a stopgap to allow time for fashioning a long-term lease for the 41-year-old arena.

The extension does not apply to CenterStage or Landmark, which SMG manages under a separate contract reached in 2008 with the Richmond Performing Arts Center.

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