New Orleans Saints to train at The Greenbrier


The Saints are marching in.

The National Football League's New Orleans Saints announced March 13 it will split its 2014 training camp locations between New Orleans and The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs.

The training camp, presented by Verizon, will be finalized when the 2014 NFL schedule is finalized.

"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," Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis said in a news release. "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 (La.) and The Greenbrier.

"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 2009 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 his plan, we get the best of both and that is important," he said. "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 10,000 acre Greenbrier has undergone a $250 million restoration in recent years. The National Historic landmark is home to The Greenbrier Classic, a PGA TOUR, FedEx Cup Event.

The Saints won Super Bowl XLIV following the 2009 regular season.

New Orleans head coach Sean Payton also served as his friend Ryan Palmer's caddie at the 2013 Greenbrier Classic. Under his guidance, the Saints have a 79-43 record, which also includes three NFC South Division titles and five playoff appearances.

"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 Saints training facility is believed to be part of the first phase of a sports medicine center that was originally announced at the White Sulphur Springs resort in 2011.


At that announcement, plans were revealed for "a cosmetic surgery and lifestyle enhancement academy, a sports performance and training facility, and a boutique hotel with 20 suites."


Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier, announced the development of "a forward-thinking medical initiative," along with world-renowned physicians Dr. James Andrews, Michael Immel and Jack Diamond, a lauded healthcare developer.


"Over 200 years ago, people came here to improve their health; soaking in the sulphur water, using hollowed-out trees for bathtubs," Justice said. "That's how The Greenbrier was born. Now, we are redefining healthcare with the expertise of these highly regarded professionals, a state-of-the-art medical facility and forum for research and education. And we are doing it right here in West Virginia. How exciting is that?"


Participants at the 2011 announcement were Justice, Andrews, sports stars Jerry West and Bo Jackson and then West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin.


According to a March 13, 2014 release from The Greenbrier, Justice has committed to building three practice fields on property at the resort (two natural turf and one synthetic grass), along with a 55,000-square-foot multi-purpose building equipped with meeting rooms, weight rooms, locker rooms, training and physical therapy accommodations, and kitchen and dining facilities. 

The release stated that the Saints selected The Greenbrier for its location and mild weather, with summer temperatures in the low 80s. All Saints players and staff will stay at the resort.


"We are very excited about this new opportunity with the New Orleans Saints, which will benefit all the people of West Virginia, bringing in tourism and new jobs," the release stated, quoting Justice. "I want to particularly thank West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Senate President Kessler, Speaker of the House Miley, and all of the Legislature for their commitment in promoting tourism and tourism jobs." 


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