After a day of silly non-statements, Mayor Vince Gray‘s chief of staff Chris Murphy acknowledged Wednesday evening that yes, the mayor spent much of Friday flying to Florida, touring the fancy training facility of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and flying home.
And yes, the purpose of the trip was a scouting mission for a possible training facility for the Washington Redskins at Reservation 13, the sad plot of city-owned facilities next to RFK Stadium.
Murphy apologized for not making the trip public and said there was “certainly no intent to mislead anyone.” (Gray’s public schedule for Friday indicated that he spent the day doing “desk work.”)
Instead, Murphy says the intent of keeping the trip under wraps was keep D.C.’s Redskin fans’ expectations in check. “We didn’t want to get people’s hopes up,” says Murphy, stressing that talk of building a training facility for the Skins is in the earliest of stages.
Murphy also says the Gray administration didn’t want Maryland or Virginia to know about the mayor’s trip to Tampa, because that could somehow hurt the District’s chances of luring the Skins to train in D.C. If that line of reasoning doesn’t make sense to you, know that it doesn’t make sense to LL either.
Murphy says former Redskin Brig Owens went to Tampa with the mayor, along with Councilmembers Jack Evans and Michael Brown. Owens, who is involved in plans to bring Wal-Mart to Ward 6, reached out to the Bucs for the tour of the facility, Murphy says.
The mayor, like the councilmembers, paid his own way for the trip, Murphy says. Asked why the mayor would pay for a trip that sounds a lot like official business, Murphy says the mayor didn’t want to put taxpayers on the hook for a trip related to a project that might not come to pass.
“It just seemed like it was the right thing to do,” he says.
Photo via Redskins.com