Welcome to Dallas Cowboys Training Camp 2017 in Frisco, Texas. That’s about how long I think it will take Jerry Jones to wise up and move Cowboys camp to what will become the team’s pristine new facility north of Dallas.
It seems a natural assumption. More teams are doing it, although there is some logic to keeping the Cowboys away from Dallas for camp. I mean, you can’t argue with sunny skies and 70 degrees every day in Oxnard, Calif., right? I was in San Francisco for five days recently, and it never topped 70 degrees. I had a hard time getting on the plane home to the blast furnace that is Texas in August.
Plus, the Cowboys are an international brand. Jerry could have camp in Bangor, Maine, and thousands would come. But I believe, one day, I’ll be covering training camp in Frisco. Here’s why.
The Cowboys are an international brand. Jerry could have camp in Bangor, Maine, and thousands would come.
When I first started covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004, their facility was at the old One Buc Place. It was the NFL equivalent of a dive bar. It was smack in between an old runway at Tampa International and a mall.
The pressroom was a double-wide trailer that was not hurricane-ready. Players stood in line in the hallway adjacent to the locker room to get their lunch buffet-style, which was convenient because they ate in the locker room. By NFL standards, the locker room, like the rest of One Buc Place, was cramped.
In 2006, (with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin still on staff) the Bucs moved into their current One Buc Place facility on the other side of Raymond James Stadium. It was the Empire State Building in comparison.
Four practice fields instead of two. Generous press facilities. Up-to-date technology. Spacious locker rooms. Plus, a weight room that would be the envy of 24-Hour Fitness.
We in the notebook brigade felt like The Jeffersons.
But the Bucs continued to have training camp in Orlando. There were advantages to doing so. Training camp was at the Wide World of Sports facility at Disney World, so there was always foot traffic.
The move allowed the Bucs to brand themselves as Central Florida’s team. It got the team out of the city and into a controlled environment for three weeks.
But disadvantages, as compared to the new facility, became apparent. Walt Disney World couldn’t build the Bucs the indoor practice facility it desired (because, some days, they just wanted to get out of the heat). On days when it rained the Bucs couldn’t use the nearby Milk House (the WWofS gym) because camp coincided with the national AAU basketball tournament.
I remember one day when it rained we all had to schlep out to the Orlando Omni to watch the Bucs go through a walkthrough in a ballroom. Plus, even though there was foot traffic, they weren’t the only game in town.
So, a half-dozen years after building the new One Buc Place, the Bucs moved training camp back home. They have everything they need to hold a three-week camp and have control of everything.
Valley Ranch is a great facility. But there is no way the Cowboys can have the type of training camp there that they have now in Oxnard. Plus, the facility was built in the 1970s, and no matter how forward thinking former GM Tex Schramm was, there’s no way he could have anticipated the technological revolution that has occurred since Valley Ranch was built.
Frisco offers Jones a place where he can start from scratch and build the type of modern facility that would mirror Cowboys Stad – I’m sorry – AT&T Stadium (still getting used to that) and provide the Cowboys all of the modern tools a NFL team needs to succeed.
And, yes, it would offer him a place to hold training camp and preach to the choir every July and August. Don’t think he’s not already plotting that out.
It won’t happen right away. Jones has to find a way to marry his international brand with a new local home. But he’ll figure it out. And when Jones does, the Cowboys will be coming home for training camp.