While the decision to move training camp to Richmond was done for football reasons, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen explained that fans will have a better experience at training camp, beginning in 2013.
"I think this facility is going to be unique for the fans and we’re building it with the idea that it’s for the fans," Allen told the media during Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony. "The viewing areas are going to be better than what we have in Ashburn right now."
Allen noted that the 120-mile commute from Ashburn to Richmond could make it difficult for fans who had previously visited camp to watch the open practices.
However, given the size and strength of the Redskins' fan base, Allen discussed the positive effects of bringing Redskins football to the heart of Virginia.
"I don’t know if the people of Richmond could make that two hour drive up to Ashburn," he said. "I know our friends in Norfolk are looking forward to being able to come over to a practice during the day and being able to get back.
"We’ve opened up Roanoke, Petersburg--even Charlottesville is an easier commute than coming up to Northern Virginia. I think it’s given an opportunity to all of these fans in Central and Southern Virginia to be able to come to training camp this year."
When the facilities are not being used by the Redskins, the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center will be available to the public for youth programs and competitions.
As Gov. Bob McDonnell told the media, the facilities will also provide value to the collegiate programs local to Richmond, Va.
"I think all of the universities--Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth--some of their own players and athletes being able to engage professionals on the Washington Redskins," McDonnell said. "I think they’ll be good role models for them. I think some of the young students who will be able to come and watch the team practice will get a real kick out of it."
The training facility will also house Bon Secours Sports Medicine, rehabilitation services, men’s health, fitness and education programs and movin’ mania, Bon Secours’ Healthy Kids Initiative.
Bon Secours will bring health-care services and educational programs to Richmond’s underserved areas surrounding the facility, furthering the health system’s long-established Healthy Communities initiative.
"This site will operate not only for the three weeks during training camp but will operate throughout the year. This will be one of the only year-round training facilities in Richmond," said Mayor Dwight Jones. "It will be open year-round with health opportunities and physical opportunities for young people as well as for men.
"Don’t forget that we’re also going to be adding to this facility on the East End as well as a facility on the West End.”
The next six months are expected to be a whirlwind of construction, as the site goes from groundbreaking to ribbon-cutting in time for Training Camp 2013.
Mayor Jones expressed confidence that the facility and city would be ready to host the Redskins in August, saying he was excited for the further rebranding of the city.
"We’re all in," he said of the city's efforts. "We’re on the fast track to get this job done and we’re going to be ready."