In the greater Washington DC metropolitan area there is no more potent brand name than the Washington Redskins. But it goes further than that. For decades in our nation’s history, through the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations – before most of the Baby Boomers had entered kindergarten – the Redskins were the preeminent “local” professional football team throughout the American southeast, with a fan base extending from Maryland through Florida and as far west as Texas. East of the Mississippi and south of the Mason-Dixon line, you can find communities of Redskins fans whose roots go back for generations.
That is why the Redskins are an NFL franchise like none other (and I say this, begrudgingly, as a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan). That is why, despite a record of often chronic mediocrity since the early 1990s, the burgundy and gold has grown into one of the two most profitable franchises in all of professional sports (the other being a certain silver and blue team in Texas).
Little known to much of the “Redskins Nation” is the fact the Redskins spend the vast majority of their time in Loudoun County, with the main offices and training facility at Redskins Park located off the Loudoun County Parkway. But Loudoun has gotten precious little PR or money for that matter as a result of this silent partnership.
Now, Loudoun County, the area’s residential mega mart with homes as far as the eye can see and a commercial tax base consisting of seven motels and a roadside custard stand (and some massive corporations asked only to provide beer money for the Board of Supervisors’ summer picnic), has an opportunity to co-brand with the Washington Redskins – and serve as home for the future Redskins’ Hall of Fame museum. The price tag for Loudoun County’s share of this joint marketing effort is $250,000, which would be drawn from money already allocated to promote tourism here. This would appear to be a no brainer, because the Redskins brand is only going to get stronger, and our county desperately needs the revenues that would accrue from becoming a destination with more emotional buy-in than the airport is currently affording us.
For an excellent introduction to this issue, please click here to go read Loudoun Insider’s story at Too Conservative. Then come back here, please, to read the rest.
Unfortunately, there is a contingent on the Board of Supervisors who contend the money would be better spent educating hospitality workers about the Journey Through Hallowed Ground (JTHG) which is a stretch of road in western Loudoun that is being preserved from future development.
So either the $250,000 will be spent on a marketing initiative to allow Loudoun County to formally co-brand itself with the national powerhouse franchise Washington Redskins and open the door for the Redskins to build their Hall of Fame here, or the $250,000 will be spent on literature, receptions and meetings for personnel from wineries, antique shops, restaurants and bed and breakfasts in western Loudoun to tell them all how wonderful the JTHG project is so they can pass the information along to customers … at some point in the future, this educational effort is supposed to benefit Loudoun County.
It appears one of the main interest groups advocating to get the $250,000 spent on western Loudoun is the same group that funded many of the Democratic supervisors’ recent campaigns on the “slow growth” agenda. Read into that what you will.
I have also heard that at least one of the Democratic supervisors, Andrea McGimsey, is opposing the cross-marketing project with the Redskins in part because she has a problem with the “Redskins” name. Frankly, I have trouble believing this, because Ms. McGimsey’s district is practically ground zero for the Redskins Nation – portions only a few miles from Redskins Park – and from my brief conversations with her she seems reasonable and honestly concerned about her contituents. But the rumor is out there that she finds the name of the team offensive. Let’s hope this is not true and, in any case, that Supervisor McGimsey would have a bias for economic growth in Loudoun County.
Regardless of the hearsay, the fact of the matter is the Board of Supervisors may well vote against the Washington Redskins project and send the $250,000 to promote tourism in the western part of the county. I think this would be a major opportunity lost.
The public hearing will be tomorrow night, Monday, December 1, 6:30 pm, in the Board Room of the Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, S.E. in Leesburg. The matter will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning. If you are a Redskins fan, or concerned about the lack of commercial tax revenue in Loudoun County, please show up at the meeting Monday evening and sign up to speak (arrive at 6:30 pm and walk down to the right front part of the room and ask to have your name put on the speakers’ list. They will call you up and you can speak for up to three minutes saying why you think we should spend the money on the Redskins project).
Here is the story in Loudoun Times earlier this month.
“Wouldn’t that be something to say, ‘Redskins Park at Loudoun County?’” said Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run), who chairs the Board of Supervisors’ economic development committee. “This is exciting news.”
The partnership would allow Loudoun to place its name throughout all Redskins-owned media outlets. A county banner advertisement would appear on the team’s Web site, and mention of the county would be made regularly on Redskins-owned radio stations and television programs. Also, “Home of the Washington Redskins” would appear on the county Web site and on other county material.
If you cannot make it to the hearing, send an e-mail with your thoughts on the matter to the entire Board of Supervisors at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can go to this page on the Loudoun County Web site and click on the name of each supervisor to contact them individually.