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New Orleans Saints to practice at The Greenbrier

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Move over, Redskins and Steelers. The Saints are marching into the Mountain State.

Greenbrier owner Jim Justice confirmed Thursday afternoon that the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, the 2009 Super Bowl champions, will split their 2014 training camp between the team’s practice facility in Metairie, La., and The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs.

Justice said the Saints will arrive in Greenbrier County on July 21 and stay through Aug. 16, holding practice on the new facilities that are now under construction across the street from The Greenbrier.

“This is just a gigantic thing for the state,” said Justice Thursday. “I am committed out of my mind to bringing tourism, jobs and hope to West Virginia. This is just another thing that West Virginians deserve.

“Why do we have to drive four or five hours to see stuff like this? We have now captured something else that West Virginians can come and enjoy in West Virginia.”

Before the Saints arrive, there is some major work to be done. Justice said the three-year agreement, which he will fund, calls for the construction of three football fields — two with natural grass and one with synthetic turf — as well as a 55,000-square-foot facility that includes training rooms, lockers for 90 players, showers, dining areas, a kitchen and more. The fields, he said, will have to be completed by May 10.

The Saints players and staff will stay at rooms in the resort during their time in West Virginia.

“After careful analysis and numerous organizational discussions, we have made the decision to alter certain elements of our upcoming training camp practices by splitting the practice locations between our facility in Metairie, La., and The Greenbrier,” said Saints general manager Mickey Loomis in a release sent out by the organization Wednesday.

“We feel like this decision will allow our team to best prepare for our 2014 season by practicing at our facility and also taking advantage of a more moderate climate and setting in West Virginia…”

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