Saints announce split training camp

The New Orleans Saints announced that they will spend part of this year’s training camp at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The exact dates have not been determined yet, but the team said it will split camp between The Greenbrier and the team’s practice facility in Metairie, La.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton both said part of the reason for the move was taking advantage of a more moderate climate. Loomis compared it to the week the Saints spent in Oxnard, Calif., in 2011.

“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,” Loomis said in a statement . “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 Saints have alternated between home and away training camps throughout their franchise’s history. When Payton first arrived in 2006, he took the team to Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., for three years before returning home for camp in 2009. The Saints have occasionally held joint practices with other teams for a week here and there, as well, during Payton’s tenure.

Payton got especially familiar with The Greenbrier last summer when he caddied for friend and PGA pro golfer Ryan Palmer at The Greenbrier Classic.

“No different than we do every year, we evaluate all areas of our operations and look for ways to improve,” Payton said in a statement. “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.”

Loomis stressed that practicing in front of the home fans remains a priority for the Saints. The Saints’ press release said practices will remain open to the public at the team’s facility in Metairie as usual – as well as “evening practice(s) open to the public at venues located in the greater New Orleans metropolitan area.”

“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,” Loomis said. “After careful analysis and numerous organizational discussions, we have made the decision to alter certain elements of our upcoming training camp practices.”