Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

NFL opens door for camp’s return to Richmond

WFT has yet to determine if it will use local facilities

- BY MICHAEL PHILLIPS mphillips@timesdispa­ (804) 649-6546 Twitter: @michaelpRT­D

In a memo to teams on Friday, the NFL relaxed its restrictio­n from 2020 on teams holding training camp at a remote facility.

That opens the door for the Washington Football Team to return to Richmond, though an appearance this August is by no means a certainty, and the team said it hasn’t yet made any decisions.

The NFL memo said teams will have to demonstrat­e how they comply with COVID protocols at the remote site. Given that the Richmond fields are outdoors, and the meeting rooms at the Omni Richmond Hotel can be separated by partitions, those two elements should easily meet protocol.

However, the team’s locker room at the Bon Secours facility would not be able to safely accommodat­e all 90 players under the NFL standard, meaning the team would likely have to bus players back to the Omni to shower after workouts.

The memo also reiterated that the team cannot organize off-site events where players and staff mingle, which would eliminate the charitable events and golf tournament­s that have become a summer staple.

Last year was scheduled to be the final year of an eight-year agreement between the team and the city. As a gesture of goodwill, new coach Ron Rivera announced that the Football Team would visit for free, instead of the $500,000 goods and cash payment that had been a part of previous visits.

That visit never materializ­ed, as COVID shut down the sports world.

The future of the Richmond-WFT arrangemen­t remains up in the air. In the long term, the team plans to hold its training camp at the site of its new stadium, which could open as soon as 2027.

Virginia continues to lobby aggressive­ly for that stadium, and a source told The Times-Dispatch one request is that if the stadium is built in Virginia, the team extend the Richmond agreement until the new facility is ready.

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