To begin training camp, Richmond mayor Dwight Jones stopped by the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center to express his excitement about the team's third annual visit to town.
As if the Redskins' presence in Richmond, Va., didn't already emphasize it enough, the historic city's mayor, Dwight C. Jones, re-affirmed it on Thursday: "Richmond is hot, and we want you to know it's hot," he said.
He wasn't just talking about the weather.
Visiting the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, Jones made a brief statement to the media before taking questions if only to further extend his optimism regarding Richmond's growth and partnership with the team in its third straight year.
"We like to say that Richmond is resilient," Jones said. "It's a city that's really coming into its own. We have great universities, a great restaurant scene, great recognition nationally now. We're really on the scene and the Washington Redskins training camp is a part of that."
In his opening address, Jones mentioned how Richmond has become a key vacation destination – "American Express says it's the most popular place to visit this summer" – and joked that he learned today that Maryland crabs are actually from Virginia.
Part of the fervor is the changing demographics.
"Our population is increasing, not decreasing," Jones said. "We have a younger generation here, millennials are moving here, they love being here. And as the city grows we're going to have to grow with it. And the thing that larger cities have are professional sports. And we want to have that."
At least for the next few weeks, he and the city do have its own professional football franchise, part of a continued effort to bring teams and sporting events into Richmond. Less than a mile down the road lies a minor league stadium – home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels – and the city will host the international cycling championships in September.
As Jones walked around the facility on Thursday – taking in practice, interacting with residents and fans – he reflected on the other importance of having the Redskins in town.
"I feel a lot of pride," he said. "I think we were able to get a lot done in a short period of time. A lot of people don't recognize that it's more than training camp. It represents economic development. It represents brand recognition for the city. And it's a huge deal for us."
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