The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Other Sports

May 8, 2014

Saints’ summer home taking shape

New Orleans’ NFL team will begin practices at The Greenbrier July 28

OAK HILL — The sod is on the field, the plumbing and electrical work is ready for the building to be erected and the excitement is building. The New Orleans Saints new summer home in White Sulphur Springs will soon become a reality.

Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice, who was responsible for bringing the Saints’ NFL training camp to his home state said everything is “going great” with the construction of the multi-million dollar facility, which will be located across the street from The Greenbrier’s main property.

Justice said the sod has already been installed on one field, and workers are in the process of doing the same for the other, shooting for a May 10 deadline. A third practice field will be constructed with synthetic grass.

The 55,000-square-foot building, which will house meeting rooms, equipment rooms, weight rooms, locker rooms, training rooms and more, will soon take shape. Justice said the deadline for its completion is July 15 but mentioned crews are running a little ahead of schedule.

“We’re moving really fast,” said Justice. “We met with the Saints (Wednesday) morning, and they’re loving it. We’re in the process of doing some fine-tuning. They were talking today about bringing in 60 of their leading sponsors.”

Justice said the Saints will arrive in West Virginia July 26 and 27 and begin practices July 28. They’ll hold an organized intrasquad scrimmage on Aug. 2 after a full week of practice. After another full week, they’ll travel to St. Louis for a preseason game against the St. Louis Rams on Aug. 8, before flying back to the Greenbrier Valley Airport.

Another full week of drills will conclude the Saints’ time in the Mountain State, as they’ll fly back to New Orleans in time for an Aug. 15 preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.

“The feedback from people in our area has been terrific,” said Justice. “But more than that, you can just feel the electricity from the Saints. Having an NFL training camp and all that happens with it is unbelievable.

“It’s exciting for me and the people of West Virginia and Virginia, but I don’t think a lot of us will really understand it until we have it. It’s a big deal,” he continued, pointing out that Saints CFO Ed Lang, who recently visited The Greenbrier, told stories of fans lining up at 4:30 a.m. in anticipation of training camp practices at the Saints other home in Metairie, La.

Justice said bleachers will be constructed for fans to come and watch the practices, which will be open to the public and free of charge, but the seating isn’t likely to accommodate all the fans that are expected.

“At every NFL training camp, fans just surround the fields and watch the players,” said Justice. “There’s going to be a lot of room for them to move around.”

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Football fans know Saints stars like Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham will be in Greenbrier County this summer, and they’ll learn a few new names over the next few days as the NFL Draft takes place in New York City. The Saints have the 27th overall pick in tonight’s opening round and are expected to go after a wide receiver, cornerback or defensive end.

— E-mail: chuffman

@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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