Flagstaff, NAU say goodbye to Arizona Cardinals training camp

By Catherine Holland

NAU: "It has been a good run ..."

Cardinals: "... [T]he University has made it clear that their position is firm."

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- It looks like Flagstaff's time as the summer home of the Arizona Cardinals is over.

According to the Arizona Daily Sun, Northern Arizona University President John Haeger turned down a short-term deal the Cardinals organization had proposed to keep its training camp in the high country.

In addition, the university has pulled its bid to host the Cards camps for three years and is now talking to other organizations that might be interested in using its facilities.

"NAU is moving forward after a nearly 25-year partnership with the Cardinals," Tom Bauer, the director of NAU's Office of Public Affairs, told 3TV in an email Friday morning. "It has been a good run, but we are acting in the best interest of the university just as the Cardinals are acting in the best interest of the team."

Cardinals representative Mark Dalton texted 3TV's Scott Pasmore the following statement.

"We have not been successful in reaching a either a long-term or short-term agreement with NAU. Proposals we received from the school didn't adequately address any of the concerns we had expressed for years relative to facilities and football operations. They also added new elements which we saw as unfavorable for the team and Cardinals fans. Examples of that include NAU charging fans for parking for the first time, and adding a commission to Cardinals merchandise sold at training camp.

"Additionally problematic were restrictions on team marketing and advertising rights which didn't exist previously. While Flagstaff's business and community leaders have been incredibly supportive and engaging, the University has made it clear that their position is firm."

Photo courtesy: FlagstaffWebCam.com

NAU has hosted the Arizona Cardinals' training camp from 25 years. The camp, an extremely popular destination for fans, pumped an estimated $10 million into Flagstaff economy every summer.

Earlier this month, the city of Glendale said it would do everything it reasonably could to convince the team to stay here in the Valley for the summer.

"The team plays here during the regular season. It makes some sense to have them play here during training camp," Dave McAlindin, the city's assistant of director of economic development, said on March 5. "It seems to be a trend in the NFL of late. About half the teams now are training on their home field."

The agreement on the table with Glendale is a 15-year deal. No other information has been made public at this point.

Prescott would also like to be the summer home of the Arizona Cardinals. City officials there proposed hosting the training camp at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University until a sports complex could be built.

Regardless of where the team goes for training camp, team president Michael Bidwill says fans will enjoy the same access they've always had.

"The whole idea behind training camp is both a football activity where we are getting players ready for the season, but it is also a fan activity where we want to bring fans in,” he said in a Jan. 31 interview.

With just a few months to go until training camp opens, it's not clear when the Cardinals will make an announcement.

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