- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 2, 2011

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown says he “was not invited” to join Mayor Vincent C. Gray and a pair of council members who went to Tampa, Fla., over the weekend to tour the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ training facility.

Mr. Brown, who oversees economic development in the District, stayed home while council members Michael A. Brown, at-large independent, and Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, paid for their trip out of their own pockets, staffers confirmed Wednesday.

The trip, first reported in a column by The Washington Times on Tuesday, was made with an eye toward attracting the Washington Redskins back into the District with a new training facility on Reservation 13, a parcel of land adjacent to RFK Stadium and the Anacostia River. The Redskins play their games at FedEx Field in Landover and train at a facility in Ashburn, Va.

But Mr. Gray’s public schedule for the day mentioned “desk work” from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. before attendance at a football game at Dunbar Senior High School, his alma mater.

The unannounced trip called to mind a trip former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty famously took to Dubai in which he provided no notice of his travel plans. That trip was paid for by the government of the United Arab Emirates, and afterward Mr. Fenty left many questions about it unanswered.

Mr. Gray paid for the Tampa sojourn himself and did not announce the trip because Maryland and Virginia, have not advertised their efforts to attract the team either, according to the mayor’s chief of staff, Christopher Murphy.

“We didn’t want people to get excited about it,” Mr. Murphy said. “It’s by no means a done deal.”

He said Michael A. Brown, chairman of the council’s Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, and Mr. Evans, chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, joined the mayor because of their committee assignments and there “was no effort to exclude the chairman.”

Since council member Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5 Democrat, stepped aside as chairman of the Committee on Economic Development in June, Kwame R. Brown has assumed leadership of that committee.

Mr. Evans declined to speak about the substance of the Tampa trip when asked about it Tuesday.

Michael A. Brown has spoken openly about moving the team’s operations back to the District, his spokesman, David Meadows, noted.

Mr. Meadows said the recent trip to the Bucs’ facility, the largest in the NFL, would help to “start a dialogue on the possibility of such an effort.”

“It’s not too much of a secret anymore we would like to, obviously, attract the Redskins back to Washington,” Mr. Brown told TV host Bruce DePuyt of TBD NewsTalk in January. “There’s nothing that happens in D.C. related to the Skins now.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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