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Commanders won't return to Richmond for training camp, will be based out of Ashburn with other regional events

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Fan appreciation day at Washington training camp

Fans attend Washington's fan appreciation day at training camp in Richmond last year. The Commanders will hold the majority of training camp in Ashburn this year.

RICHMOND — The Washington Commanders will begin training camp on July 27, but it won’t be in Richmond.

The team will hold the majority of training camp at its Ashburn headquarters, and fans will be able to enter a lottery for a limited number of tickets once the schedule is officially set in the coming weeks.

There will also be an open practice on Aug. 6 at 6:45 p.m. at FedEx Field that will accommodate a larger number of fans, and will feature performances from the band and entertainment team, as well as art installations and other offerings.

A person familiar with the team’s decision making said the training camp location will be picked on a “year-to-year” basis, and that the team plans to keep a presence in Richmond.

The team is working on a number of regional events, including a celebration of Friday night football in Richmond for later this fall. The Commanders have involved Richmond in other initiatives recently, including distributing merchandise around town after the name change was announced.

Richmond became the host of training camp in 2013 under an eight-year contract.

That contract called for the Richmond Economic Development Authority to pay $500,000 in cash and in-kind services for the team’s appearance each August.

The payments — which started under previous administrations — were a campaign point for Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who said the city shouldn’t be paying the Commanders for their visits.

Last year, the team flipped the script from past camps by paying $100,000 to rent the Leigh Street facility for a week, but earlier this spring, coach Ron Rivera said it was tough to uproot the team for so short a time.

“The problem with the short period is it’s not, from what I learned, it’s not financially equitable,” Rivera said. “Because you’re there a short period of time, then you’ve got to move everything to set up again.”

A majority of NFL teams have brought their training camps back on-site, with most offering an open practice at their stadium to fans.

The length of the preseason has gradually shrunk over the years as well, and this year teams will play just three exhibition games.

The team’s decision to stage camp in Ashburn is unrelated to the Virginia General Assembly tabling legislation to potentially support a new stadium for the Commanders, according to a team source.

In past years, Richmond camps included a reception at the Governor’s Mansion and other meetings with politicians.

Season-ticket holders will get first access to practice tickets in Ashburn, with the rest given to fans on a lottery basis. The open period of camp is scheduled to run through Aug. 18.

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

Twitter: @michaelpRTD

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