NAU, Flagstaff look past Cardinals camp to other opportunities

Peaks view at Cardinals practice
Cardinals practice
Sports Illustrated, ESPN and CBS have rated NAU as one of the top venues in the nation for NFL summer training camp.

Northern Arizona University and the city of Flagstaff have begun to explore other options to bring business to the area as the Arizona Cardinals negotiate a long-term deal to move training camp to Glendale.

NAU President John Haeger said the university is opening its facilities to welcome other groups for camps, conferences and events, and pursing opportunities that will benefit the university and local economy.

“Hosting an NFL team has been a bonus to the local economy, and we have enjoyed welcoming Cardinals fans back to their summer home for the last quarter century,” Haeger said.

Haeger said he is prepared to explore other revenue sources that will benefit the Flagstaff community and utilize the ideal location and facilities. The university has outdoor and indoor field space, housing and ample conference space for nearly any event.

Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours said he is disappointed at the prospect of the Cardinals not returning, yet is confident that the city will remain a destination of choice for Arizonans.

“We’ve had a solid partnership with the Cardinals for many years, and we wish them well,” Nabours said. “Now we move forward in collaboration with the university, which has been a key partner in economic development for decades.”

The Cardinals have trained at NAU since the team moved to Arizona in 1988. The university and team’s three-year contract to hold training camp at NAU ended in 2012. The university prepared a proposal for 2013-15 in partnership with the city of Flagstaff, the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona and Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.

“Northern Arizona University made an extraordinary offer and worked diligently to negotiate with the team,” Haeger said.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated ranked NAU in the top two preseason NFL training camps in the nation, calling the campus and Flagstaff an “underrated spot” with pristinely kept fields and terrific access to the players. ESPN and CBS have called NAU one of the best venues in the NFL.

“We thank the many Cardinals fans who’ve made NAU a summer destination for nearly 25 years and supported the university, local businesses and the city,” Haeger said. “We look forward to welcoming you back for Lumberjack athletics and community events.”