CHARLESTON, W.Va. — New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said Thursday at the state capitol bringing his NFL team to the Greenbrier Resort for training camp the next three years is a great opportunity for the Saints and for West Virginians.
“You’ll have a chance to meet a ton of our fans that will make this trip and we’ve already got a lot of ‘Who Dat’ fans in this region, they’ll just have a little bigger voice now,” Payton said during a standing room only ceremony in the governor’s reception room. The coach was escorted into the room by a trumpet solo of ‘When the Saints Come Marching In.’
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the Tourism Development Act into law just before Payton was introduced. The law will make tax credits available for Greenbrier owner Jim Justice and others creating tourism projects. Justice plans to use the credit on the Saints project. He’ll be building three practice fields and a 55,000-square foot multi-use building.
Payton said he first visited the resort last July during The Greenbrier Classic. He said he believes it will make a great location for four weeks of training camp. But he said it will be more than the accommodations that will make it successful.
“We’ve been in great facilities,” he said. “It’s really the relationship, it’s a two-way street, it’s the relationship the club has with the people holding the training camp and vice-versa.”
Payton promised a good fan experience during the camp.
“Having a chance to watch an NFL time practice I think is very impressionable (on young people), especially with the right team,” he said. “I think you’ll see that with our players.”
Payton said he’s not concerned about the luxurious accommodations of The Greenbrier being a distraction for his players. He said they understand the importance of camp.
“Training camp is a window where you are getting ready,” he said. “It’s probably the most important window, especially now with the new rules because we aren’t allowed to be in shoulder pads during the off-season.”
Payton said the Saints would likely report sometime around July 23.
The coach was joined Thursday by Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, Gov. Tomblin, state Senate President Jeff Kessler, House of Delegates of Speaker Tim Miley and others.