- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2003

The Washington Redskins yesterday made official the training camp news that had been expected since last fall and was internally decided about 2 months ago: The team will train at its year-round headquarters, Redskin Park, in Ashburn this summer.

Camp practices are set to begin July 28 and generally will be open to the public and free of charge for admission or parking. Fan Appreciation Day is set for the first Saturday, Aug.2, and will include performances by the cheerleaders and marching band.

The Redskins also trained at home in 2000, though that camp is best remembered for their decision to become the first NFL team to charge admission. Due in large part to cool, wet conditions, that camp wasn’t attended as heavily as had been expected.

Camp returned to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., in 2001 under Marty Schottenheimer, who believed that teams build chemistry by training far from home. But coach Steve Spurrier places little emphasis on that theory.

“Personally, I’ve always thought it was opposite,” Spurrier said yesterday. “In training camp, you’ve got curfew every night at 11 o’clock. But in the season, really you only have curfew the night before the game. Really the season is what’s important, and this is all just preparation for the season.”

In November, Washington let a deadline pass to reserve space in Carlisle for this summer’s camp. Club officials later investigated several other sites — believed to be in southern Virginia — before deciding in late March to go ahead with the much anticipated plan to train at Redskin Park. This week Loudoun County gave official approval for the current plans.

“We just believe it will be a little more productive to have [it at] our own facility,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got four fields here. [Were] close by. We just feel like that’s the way to go.”

One interesting detail about this summer’s setup is the lack of bleachers, which were constructed for the 2000 camp and were a key feature at the Dickinson football stadium. However, the Redskins’ camp at Frostburg State from 1995 to 1999 also did not have bleachers.

The benefit of not constructing stands, spokeswoman Julia Payne said, is to create more of a family atmosphere. Fans will be allowed to stand alongside the fields or set up blankets and chairs on a short rise next to one of the fields — an area where there were bleachers and an assortment of vendors and activities in 2000.

Coolers will be permitted but not alcohol, and there could be an area with picnic tables.

Players will stay at a nearby conference center as they navigate a practice schedule that, in the brief Spurrier tradition, emphasizes mental preparation and limits the risk of getting worn out or hurt. Schottenheimer, in contrast, believed that grueling two-a-days were another part of the bonding process.

“I think you’ll find the product will be just as good,” Spurrier said. “Sometimes you can overemphasize practicing 50 times. More is not always best.”

The Redskins became the 13th NFL team to train at home — and the fifth to move back home this offseason alone. Nine teams train at their year-round facilities.

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