WASHINGTON – Some Virginia lawmakers are not happy about a deal that Gov. Bob McDonnell is negotiating with the Washington Redskins.
The House of Delegates Appropriations Committee wants to know more about what some are calling a behind-the-back deal to give the NFL team $6.5 million to keep their massive headquarters and training facility in Ashburn in Loudoun County.
The lawmakers spent an hour Monday grilling senior administration officials about the validity of the Redskins’ threat to leave Ashburn.
“I think there was a pretty mild threat,” says Delegate Joe May (R-Loudoun), who was not at the meeting. He says lawmakers had made it clear they were not going to allocate money as an incentive for the Redskins to stay.
But Delegate Thomas “Tag” Greason (R-Loudoun), who was at the meeting, says the funds will come from McDonnell’s Opportunity Fund, which is designed to keep businesses in the state and lure in new businesses.
He says the debate is part of the region’s love-hate relationship with the Redskins.
“Why would [the governor] give them any money?” says Greason. “If you take that emotion out of it, it is a right business decision.”
Some of the legislators say McDonnell’s deal was done behind their backs after they turned down money in the budget. McDonnell’s chief of staff says some committee members were told about the deal, but he could not identify them.
The deal is not yet signed. Greason says the incentive could be as little as $4 million or as high as $6.5 million.
Redskins Park, located on 160 acres near Ashburn, includes four full-size football fields for practices, a state-of-the-art sports medicine and strength training facility and offices for the Redskins’ coaches and corporate staff. The team plays its home games at FedEx Field, a stadium in Landover, Md.