Mar 13, 2014 2:48 PM by Dave Fields
The town of White Sulphur Springs, West Va., can now proclaim, "The Saints are coming!". The town will host the New Orleans Saints 2014 training camp, or at least part of it.
According to a team release, "the New Orleans Saints football operations announced today that the team will split their 2014 Training Camp...between the team's practice facility in New Orleans and The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Times, locations and dates for the training camp practices will be released at a later date pending the finalization of the 2014 schedule."
The team announced that it will continue to practice for a period of training camp, as it has since 2009, at its Airline Dr. facility in Metairie, including "training camp fan engagement enhancements including free parking and seating, open practices" and also "evening practice(s) open to the public at venues located in the greater New Orleans metropolitan area, Saints themed activities for children, autograph opportunities, merchandise sales, concessions, and interactive sponsorship displays."
Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis explained the decision.
"It is important to recognize how much we, as an organization, value the continued support of our fans across the Gulf South and of course, in New Orleans. After careful analysis and numerous organizational discussions, we have made the decision to alter certain elements of our upcoming training camp practices by splitting the practice locations between our facility in Metairie and The Greenbrier," said Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.
Loomis said that the decision was made with an eye toward a successful 2014 season.
"We feel like this decision will allow our team to best prepare for our 2014 season by practicing at our facility and also taking advantage of a more moderate climate and setting in West Virginia, similar to what we did in 2011 when we went to southern California for a week. I have always been a proponent of mixing up training camp every few years which I believe is a good strategy as we prepare for the season. With this plan, we get the best of both and that is important. We get quality practices in both locations and we get the benefits of having our fans support us during our time at home in Metairie and we get the opportunity for our team to unite at a location away from home."
The previous eight training camps under Head Coach Sean Payton have been held at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS (2006-2008), most recently (2009-2013) and a brief excursion to Oxnard, Calif. in 2009. Under Payton's leadership, the Saints have posted a 79-43 record, captured Super Bowl XLIV, clinched three NFC South Division titles and advanced to the postseason five times.
"No different than we do every year, we evaluate all areas of our operations and look for ways to improve," said Payton. "By splitting training camp between New Orleans and The Greenbrier, we will have a great opportunity to further enhance our training camp in 2014. We all understand the importance of training camp and ultimately, that's to get the team ready for the regular season. As far as the time we will spend at The Greenbrier, it offers a tremendous opportunity to our team in a more moderate summer climate."
The team will set up camp at The Greenbrier, the team release said, which is "a National Historic landmark that has hosted distinguished guests from around the world since 1778 including 26 U.S. presidents. Known as 'America's Resort,'" the release continued, "The Greenbrier encompasses more than 10,000 acres of rolling landscape that includes: four golf courses; a championship indoor and outdoor tennis facility; a 40,000-square-foot spa rated by Conde Nast as one of the top 25 in the world; a breadth of sporting activities; shops; private homes at The Greenbrier Sporting Club; and, at its heart, a vast and imposing grand hotel purchased in 2009 by West Virginia entrepreneur, Jim Justice II."
The PGA's Greenbrier Classic is home to the resort, which recently underwent a major $250 million renovation.