Saints staying in Metairie for camp

Updated: March 30, 2009, 5:42 PM ET
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com

In a move that quickly has become the norm in the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints announced they will hold training camp at their own practice facility in Metairie, La.

That ends a stint at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., that began in 2006.

"The fans in New Orleans and in our entire region from Baton Rouge to Lake Charles and from Biloxi to Pensacola will have the ability to come out and watch our team get ready for what will be a very exciting season,'' team owner Tom Benson said in a statement. "We are committed to our region and although Millsaps College was a great partner, we remain committed to doing our part to strengthen our state, our city and I believe this is another step in that direction."

Even before the economic downturn, the growing trend around the league had been for more teams to train at home in recent years.

The Atlanta Falcons already train at their year-round facility in Flowery Branch, Ga. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently followed that route when they decided to leave Disney's Wide World of Sports to train at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa.

The Saints didn't cite any economic issues in their decision to stay at home, but Saints general manager Mickey Loomis echoed the sentiments of others in the NFL on why the old system of training in an isolated location isn't as practical as it once was.

"As NFL training facilities evolve and develop, there is a trend to want to maximize the exposure your team has to all of the amenities that help make training camp successful," Loomis said. "Training camp is a very physically and mentally demanding period of time for the players and by being able to utilize our facilities, we feel like it is the best decision that we can make for our team at this time."

An exact start date for camp hasn't been set, but the Saints said it will be near the end of July.

The move leaves the Carolina Panthers as the only NFC South team that will not hold training camp at its main facility. The Panthers train at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. That's not likely to change because Wofford is the alma mater of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.

This won't be the first time the Saints have trained in Metairie. They used their facility for camp in a three-year stretch that started in 2003.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter