Commanders might not return to Richmond for training camp

Taylor Heinicke

In an offseason that has seen a wealth of roster change and rebranding efforts for the Washington Commanders, it looks like more off-the-field adjustments are imminent.

The Commanders might not be returning to Richmond for training camp. Virginia’s capital has hosted the Burgundy & Gold for training camp since 2013 at the Bon Secours facility, but head coach Ron Rivera noted the weeklong trip might not be feasible this summer.

“The problem with the short [travel] period is it’s not, from what I’m learning, it’s not financially equitable,” Rivera said at the NFL owner’s meetings on Tuesday. “You’re there a short, brief time then you gotta move everything and get yourself set up again.”

Last year’s Richmond camp was a bit different than most, as team activities transpired during heightened COVID-19 protocols. Previously, the Commanders would set up shop in Richmond for two weeks, but that period was shortened to one week in 2021 to accommodate for a return to Ashburn, VA to prepare for the preseason. Instead of the city paying the team $500,000 to train there -- which it had from 2013-20 -- the Commanders paid the city $100,000 to rent out the facility for a week. Washington did not hold camp in Richmond in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

"The city enjoyed hosting the Commanders last year and was encouraged by the progress made in our partnership," said Jim Nolan, spokesman for Mayor Levar Stoney, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "We would welcome the team returning this year, but as the mayor has previously stated, the many needs of our residents take priority over making a cash contribution to one of the wealthiest franchises in professional sports."


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Home base for training camp this year, set to take place as usual in late July, is still up in the air. More scheduling needs to be done before a firm location is set, though, per Rivera.

“I think, sometime by May all those decisions—well, the scheduling’s gonna come out in a couple weeks for preseason, or a week. Then, what happens is you map out, based on that, how you want to do it,” Rivera said. “And then if you can come to some sort of agreement, you’ll have a better sense for it.”

One key part of training camp, for most teams at least, is holding joint practices with other squads in preparation for preseason games. Washington fans will remember, perhaps not so fondly, the DeAndre Hopkins-DeAngelo Hall kerfuffle that occurred at training camp in 2015 during a joint practice with the Houston Texans. It was captured, explicit language and all, by the Hard Knocks cameras. Washington also hosted the New England Patriots in Richmond prior to the 2014 season. 

Could Washington conceivably host another team during training camp this year, even if the camp’s location has yet to be determined?

“Yes. From what I’ve heard, we can, or we could if we wanted to,” Rivera said.