WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – This is another big week for the Greenbrier Resort as the New Orleans Saints are set to open three weeks of training camp Friday at their new facility.
Construction crews have been feverishly finishing construction on three practice fields and 55,000-square foot multi-use building.
The Saints players are scheduled to report Thursday with the first practices scheduled for Friday. There will be two practices a day nearly every day for three weeks. The final Greenbrier practices are scheduled for Aug. 13. The Saints will travel to New Orleans Aug. 14 and resume camp at their own facility on Aug. 17.
Greenbrier owner Jim Justice will eventually receive help from the state on the project—about $25 million worth of help.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the Tourism Development Act into law in March, a law making tax credits available for Justice and others creating tourism projects. Justice plans to use the credit on the Saints project. The deal has its critics, but state Commerce secretary Keith Burdette said the measure requires Justice to meet certain provisions before he can capitalize on the tax break.
“In addition to what (the Saints) do, he has to qualify additional days for other events throughout the year,” Burdette said.
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was on hand when the bill was signed into law. He said at the time he was looking forward to spending part of the preseason in West Virginia. He also predicted a good fan experience.
“Having a chance to watch an NFL time practice I think is very impressionable (on young people), especially with the right team,” Payton said. “I think you’ll see that with our players.”
Burdette said the Saints project is a good example of how tax credits can work and should remain a tool for the state.
“West Virginia has made enormous progress, we can’t afford to unilaterally disarm now,” Burdette said. “We need to be competitive. We’ve finally got people paying attention to us and people who don’t have to be here. They can be anywhere.”