WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Residents in White Sulphur Springs gave a big welcome to the New Orleans Saints when they arrived for training camp Thursday evening. For the next three weeks the Saints will be at The Greenbrier Resort’s new AdvoCare Sports Performance Center.

“We’re ready, man. We’re ready to go,” Jim Justice, the owner of The Greenbrier Resort, said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “Everybody here’s excited. I think our state, we ought to be out of our minds to think about having an NFL team here.”

The community showed its excitement by turning out at the airport when the Saints arrived and then lined the streets of White Sulphur Springs for parade. Saints owner Tom Benson was among those in the parade.

The Saints are after for a fifth playoff appearance this season under the direction of Head Coach Sean Payton who opted for the road trip to White Sulphur Springs. It marks the first time the Saints have hit the road for camp since 2008.

Coach Payton has said the Greenbrier Valley “offers a tremendous opportunity to our team in a more moderate summer climate.”

Justice said he talked with Payton on Wednesday morning. “You’ve got to be able to tell what good timber is and this guy’s got his act together. He’s an organizer. He’s meticulous beyond belief. He’s eaten up with enthusiasm and passion,” Justice said.

“I can’t stand people around me that are sticks in the mud, but this guy is anything but that and he’s a winner.”

The 55,000 square foot training facility, along with three practice fields, did not exist at The Greenbrier Resort just more than 130 days ago when the New Orleans Saints first announced plans to come to West Virginia for training camp.

In all, the cost to build a place for the Saints — on a deadline — is closing in on an estimated $30 million.

Justice said the rapid build would not have been possible without the tax credits the Legislature approved, earlier this year, in the Tourism Development Act. “We all run out of money. That’s just all there is to it. We all run out of money,” Justice said when asked about the credits. “We’ve got to feel like, at least, that somebody else is helping us pull the rope.”

All training camp workouts for the Saints are open to the public.

Following a bus tour of Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs on Wednesday evening and strength and conditioning tests on Thursday, team members were scheduled to begin on-field workouts in a non-padded practice session on Friday from 8:50-11:40 a.m. with a walk through from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

A “Picnic with the Saints” will be held Saturday. Tickets for that event are $10.

In all, there will 20 practices for the Saints, including a scrimmage on Aug. 2. The team will be at The Greenbrier through Aug. 14 before returning to Louisiana to complete pre-season camp. A full training schedule is available here.

When the Saints are not at The Greenbrier, the practice facility will be available for other uses. Justice said work is underway to possibly bring teams from West Virginia University, Marshall University and Virginia Tech — among others — to White Sulphur Springs in the coming years.

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  • MOCO man

    Ummmmm Derek.........Greenbrier County is a border county with Virginia.........I'm guessing you didn't do too well in WV History class........
    Thank you Jim, I am going to go do something I otherwise probably would never have done.......I am going to picnic with the Saints and take in an NFL practice......

  • nicole

    What day is the picnic with them on?

  • Suroux

    WHO DAT!!

  • just sayin

    Wow, not only does the wristband get you into the practice facility, but you are also welcome to go to the Casino.....'a special event' requirement that went along with getting the Casino law passed. The original intent of the bill was to make the casino available only to overnight guests....JJ will be getting plenty of money back from all the "losers" in the casino...just sayin

    • Bianca

      Well I'm hoping to double down! Lol

  • Derek

    The state will give JJ tax breaks for hobby house projects but won't give any breaks to border counties of VA in order to compete for jobs. Toilet bowl politics.

    • Aaron

      Please educate yourself before making ill informed comments. The tax breaks Mr. Justice will receive are available to everyone.

  • Big Hooptie

    God bless capitalism and what's left of our free market society.

    You would think people in WV would finally get it but there's a reason why businesses choose to break ground elsewhere, often times, right across our borders.

  • Joe

    Any monies from future events at this sports complex should be held in escrow to pay back taxpayers. Hoppy.....you should gt Mr. Justice on the regarding this.

    • LetsThinkaboutIt

      Why should it? To my knowledge the taxpayers didnt build the building or any of the other projects and therefore arent entitled to any part of the benefits from the projects. Tax credits do not imply ownership.

  • Mister G!

    Another day, another MetroNews suckup to Fat Bastard. As always, much ado about absolutely nothing...

  • Jim N Charleston

    4 people in 1 pic.
    They need much more crowd control to handle that mob.

    $20 million in tax credits.
    Bravo Jim. You played this state good.

    All I got
    I'm Jim N So Charleston

    • Aaron

      How did he play the state good given that he is going to spend $400 million dollars and then at some point down the road, he MIGHT realize a 5% return on his investment with the likelihood being that it will will actually be less than 1%?

  • Mason County Contrarian

    I can see it now.

    It's11:45 PM, final regular session of the 2015 West Virginia Legislature. Arriving at the Capital, Diamond Jim cuts a deal that grants assistance from state taxpayers to defray the cost of the Greenbrier Game Changer $ports Metroplex Complex.

    Diamond Jim goes home happy, happy, happy.

    Stranger things have happened.

    • The bookman

      How about this version. Jim Justice announces the private investment of $400 million that will find three projects in WV, creating real economic opportunities in the 3rd District of WV, an area that has continued to suffer the decline of coal industry. If each project is successful, and achieves its goals of turning a profit and employing hundreds of West Virginians, Justice will receive a 25% credit on state net income taxes due over ten years, at which point the credit will end. The total amount of tax credit can not exceed $25 million over the ten year period, meaning the state would at a minimum have to receive $75 million in tax revenue over that same period for Justice to receive the full benefit. After the ten year period, WV would then receive its full revenue from the projects. Justice said he was excited to have the support of his state in these endeavors, and can't wait for the credits to be realized, so that he can reinvest the $25 million in other business ventures, as that's what entrepreneurs do. However, some are skeptical that his risk in investing $400 million dollars might actually benefit his own personal bottom line, which in their view, wouldn't be fair.

      In other news, Nick Rahall railed against the Obama Administration today over its continued assault on coal, as Patriot Coal announced more layoffs. Although he supported the President in his election efforts and even supported cap and trade, he is still befuddled at how the President can continue to do what he said he was going to do.

      • Mason County Contrarian

        In our economy, an actual "entrepreneur" would not propose an economic venture conditioned upon "whens" or "ifs" tied to taxpayer support. He or she would seek funds from investors in hopes of turning a profit and keep the stakeholders happy.

        Isn't that suppose to be the essence of free enterprise?

        Why depend upon assistance from the taxpayer? Were investors unwilling to risk their own money? Were there red flags? Were P. T. Barnum politicians an easier sell?

        I guess that is the difference between a "true entrepreneur" and an "raconteur extraordinaire".

        Just wondering: does anyone know why the state amateur tournament isn't being held at The Greenbrier? It would seem to have been the logical choice.

        Asking questions isn't popular today for some reason. As a tax paying stakeholder in "America's Resort", I am sure many of these that I have raised will go unanswered. I would like to visit my investment someday and check it out, but like most taxpayers, I can't afford the gas.

        • John

          Would you rather have all of nothing or some of something? The state has absolutely nothing invested in this. Justice and or his investors did put up the money. They are on the hook for $400 million. All he is asking the state is that if or when this thing becomes profitable, the state takes a little bit less of HIS money in the form of taxes. It will increase tax revenues because of the tax on the profits and the payroll taxes from the created jobs, not to mention the added sales taxes. The state makes money off the deal without investing a single penny of the state's money. Attitudes like this are why WV is dead last in everything good and dead first in everything bad. This is a win/win for the state of WV.

        • The bookman

          Like the corporate tax debate, if we aren't going to compete in the marketplace for investment in our economy by private business interest, we will lose that investment to other states who are competing for those investment dollars. Like it or not, tax incentives are a tool states use to attract and retain economic engines.

          The people of WV can either sit around and cry in their cereal bowls in want if opportunity, or they can wake up and take a look around at what is successful, and replicate it.

        • LetsThinkaboutIt

          A tax credit is far from an investment. Investment implies some form of ownership and/or right to any benefit that may come from the money used to fund the venture. Clearly if true investors are putting up $400 million in funds they are putting money at risk. To my knowledge the state is not putting up any of the initial money for these ventures. Thus, have established no ownership in the resort.

          Governments have nothing without taking it from someone else. They do not have investors. They have people who are forced to hand over a chunk of their money for use at the discretion of these so called leaders.

          A tax credit on profits generated does not grant ownership of anything. It simply says "if you meet these guidelines the government will take less of your profits because we think this is a good thing and want to encourage you to do it." Thus unless you are a true investor/owner of "Americas Resort" you have no stake in the Greenbriers successes other than, it may generate a profit that can be taxed in order fund a project that may benefit you.

          • Mason County Contrarian

            Ahhhhh, so many nagging questions......so few answers.

            I would sure like to be a fly on the wall in a smoke-filled room, when or if, Diamond Jim performs another late night offer that can't be refused.

            Guess we will find out come midnight of the final day of the Legislature Session, 2015.

            Stay thirsty, my friends.

  • DP

    This is a real coup for the Greenbrier and the state of WV! More POSITIVE publicity for WV which is absolutely invaluable!!!

  • whatamoroon

    Mr. Justice needs to contact Under Armour about sponsoring a national 7 on 7 competition at this premier facility during the early summer.

  • Larry

    Game changer!! Millions will flock to Greenbrier Co. to watch practice.

  • GoEers

    Welcome to West Virginia and thank you Jim Justice!

  • yeah yeah

    yawn ......