Another landmark victory for corporate welfare was finalized a few days ago when the government of Virginia and the NFL’s Washington Redskins finalized their deal (bribe) for the latter to stay and invest in its HQ and training facility in Loudoun County.
In related news, Richmond’s mayor, Dwight Jones, convened a commission to assist in locating a suitable site for the Redskins’ 2013 training camp in Richmond. As the mayor of Richmond, Jones understands the difficulties associated with finding anything suitable in Richmond! The city has not however finalized its agreement with the Redskins yet.
The “deal” between Virginia and the Redskins does admittedly look pretty sweet on paper.
In order for the Redskins to receive the $4 million grant, the team must meet a number of “targets” outlined in the so-called “Project Hail” agreement.
Some of the targets include making cumulative capital investments at the Redskins HQ or its training facility at an estimated total of “up to $30 million” (why would the agreement cap capital investments?!), and keeping the Redskins HQ and training facility in the state until 2020.
The Redskins would have to give back a portion or all of its grant money if one or more of the targets failed to be achieved.
Furthermore, the agreement includes a four-year deal between the Virginia Lottery and the Redskins, a continuance of the relationship they have shared for a number of years.
Arguably, the biggest problem with the deal is the grant itself. When the incentive was announced in June, even Republican lawmakers in the state asked the McDonnell administration to prove claims that the Redskins would have left its Loudoun complex without the incentives. To my knowledge, no such evidence has yet been provided.
Furthermore, one gets the sense that the “targets” that have been set are paper thin and easily side-stepped, if necessary. The ambiguous language used in the 8-page “Project Hail” agreement (e.g. “commercially reasonable”) is the kind used by lawmakers to write seemingly substantive legislation without teeth.
And of course there is the tried and true skepticism that follows from most legislative moves pulled by the government of Virginia when it claims to be looking out for the interests of Virginians while paying millions to groups and businesses that hardly need the extra revenue.
Hail to the Redskins! How about hail to the average Virginian?!