Saints welcome new facility
By By Richard Dark / EMG staff writer
July 24, 2003
METAIRIE, La. By now, it's no secret the New Orleans Saints are following the recent trend of NFL teams staying at home for training camp.
But until Wednesday, no one outside the Saints organization knew just exactly how great the comforts of home now are for the team coming into the 2003 camp, which begins Saturday at the team's facility here on Airline Drive.
General Manager Mickey Loomis and coach Jim Haslett unofficially kicked off the start of training camp by unveiling the team's stunning additions, which include a state-of-the-art indoor practice facility and complete remodeling of the team's locker room and training room.
The new building, which has a nearly 10,000 square-foot weight room and player cafeteria, houses a full-sized practice field with a roof which is nearly 80 feet at its peak.
The indoor field is the centerpiece of the estimated $15.25M addition, a field Saints officials insisted the team badly needed in the wake of all the missed practices due to inclement weather during the past few seasons.
The field portion is 93,400 square feet (420 ft. x 220 ft). All of the additions are connected to the preexisting facility.
Haslett reinforced that point by illustrating how players would fall asleep on the bus going back and forth from Nicholls State University in Thibodeaux. "It's not a good environment, it's not the best way to keep something going."
One thing's for certain, if the players wanted to sleep at this new addition, which totals 116,000 square feet, it's certainly nice enough to accommodate that.
The price tag to the state's taxpayers came in at $6.75M, with the team picking up the other $8.5M. For that price, it was easy to see all the bells and whistles the team had on display Wednesday.
In one room off to the side of the training room was the aquatics facility. In it, was a swimming pool that had a treadmill at the bottom surrounded by built-in video cameras to monitor a player's rehab of leg and hip injuries.
The locker room is more expansive and doesn't contain lockers in the middle of the room dividing it into thirds the way the old one did. That was important, according to Haslett, to help cultivate more of an overall feeling of player unity, and to eliminate cliques. There is lounging space in the center of the room with tables, chairs and couches where players can answer fan mail, or simply kick back.
The practice field itself is lined with the new surface called FieldTurf, which is a softer surface made up of ground up rubber on a bed of sand and soil. It is much more highly regarded than their game surface, Astroturf, which can be conducive to injury.