Group lobbies NFL camp to come to the area
Update: This article has been updated with information from the Washington Redskins and the Shepherd Athletic Department.
Some Shepherdstown residents have banded together in the hopes of bringing the NFL’s Washington Redskins’ training camp to town.
“We’re exploring all options in terms of a training camp,” said Tony Wyllie, senior vice president of communications for the Redskins.
After Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan announced at the end of this past season that the team will no longer hold the camp at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va., one Shepherdstown native and a group of residents got together to see if they could provide a solution.
“As soon as we saw that, there were a few of us that got together and thought of Shepherdstown,” said resident Andrew Lowe.
Lowe said Shepherdstown could be a great spot for the football organization to hold its camp for a number of reasons – close proximity to Washington, D.C., being one of them.
“It just seems to make logical sense,” he said.
Shepherd University Athletic Director B.J. Pumroy said that the university has spoken with individuals at the Redskins. He also issued the following statement:
“We are aware that members of the community are interested in pursuing the idea of bringing the Redskins to Shepherdstown. A community member has in fact approached President Shipley with this idea and inquired about her support. President Shipley will consider the option only if it can be shown that bringing the Redskins will not disadvantaged the university financially or disadvantaged our teams. Since the Redskins will be staying in DC this summer, she will begin collecting information more formally after our May graduation.”
In the meantime, the group of residents will continue to gather support.
Lowe sees this as an opportunity for Shepherdstown serve as a long-term spot for the camp, like the team’s Carlisle, Pa. location was for over three decades.
He said it’s important to show the team the town is a place they can stay for years to come.
“Everybody’s friendly; everybody’s down-home.”
But Lowe admits that he has experienced some hesitation from residents, mainly because the Redskins aren’t their first preference for a football team.
“But it’s about all the positives it would bring with it,” he said.
Lowe also sees this as an economic development opportunity for the town.
“It’d be good exposure,” he said. “Imagine, once a day, live broadcasts from Redskins training camp from Shepherdstown, W.Va.”
Mayor Jim Auxer said while he would thinks something like this would be good for the businesses in town, he also imagines there are some negatives that could come with it – such as some monetary concerns.
He also said there would have to be some interfacing done between Shepherd University and the town in order to streamline the situation.
“You have to weigh everything, and I don’t know what I’m weighing,” he said.
But Auxer encourages the group of residents to reach out to other universities and colleges that have hosted training camps and see what types of factors weigh into playing host.
In the meantime Lowe, who has reached out to business owners in town, the Shepherd Alumni Association and residents, sees this – should it come to fruition – benefiting the town, its organizations and Shepherd.
“All the pieces seem to be there,” he said. “It’s just a matter of joining them all together.”
Lowe said that getting the word out is still in the preliminary stages. Just a few weeks ago, he and others behind the cause started a Facebook group, “Bring the Redskins to Shepherdstown,” and a Twitter account with the Twitter handle @RedskinsInWV. The two social media sites had a combined following of 307 by press time.
Lowe hopes to get more people on board with the movement. And while he knows the Washington Redskins may not come to Shepherdstown this summer, he hopes that the town could serve as a long-term solution for the team.