The NFL Cardinals will hold their training camp at the Univ. of Phoenix Stadium “for the first time since moving to Arizona" in '88, according to Craig Morgan of FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com. The team will be “using its home field for all practices that will be open to the public,” after previously holding camp at Northern Arizona Univ. in Flagstaff "every year but one.” Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said that the team was “not able to work out an agreement with NAU to continue that tradition.” Bidwill said, “The facilities that NAU had moved us into over the last couple of years were completely substandard for a professional football team, and we were paying big rent up there.” He added, "I was not going to let the team be at a competitive disadvantage by continuing to use those facilities." The Cardinals are “building an indoor facility at their Tempe headquarters, but that is not likely to be completed in time for camp.” Bidwill said 20 of 32 NFL teams hold training camp at home "so this is not something that's new or different." The team and the city of Glendale “are still in negotiations over a long-term agreement” (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 6/11). Bidwill “believes training at home will make practices more accessible for fans.” He said, "There's 4.3 million who live here in the Valley and not all of those people can afford to take the time off or to drive up (to Flagstaff) and spend the night. It's free, it's free parking. It's air conditioned. Be able to catch a practice in the afternoon and not have to drive out of town." In Phoenix, Kent Somers notes it is unclear “where players and coaches will conduct meetings that were usually held in classrooms at NAU” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/12).
The Univ. of North Carolina-Charlotte's on-campus football stadium "will be called Jerry Richardson Stadium," as the NFL Panthers owner made a $10M "donation to the school in return for the naming rights in perpetuity," according to Jim Utter of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. It was the "largest single naming rights deal in the athletic department's history." Richardson said, "Nobody asked us to do this. Charlotte is our home (and) I think athletics plays a key role in any university or college experience." Richardson had "previously partnered with Charlotte banking industry pioneer Hugh McColl to name the stadium field, McColl-Richardson Field." The first game of the team's inaugural season will be played Aug. 31 (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/12). In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted UNCC Chancellor Phil Dubois and AD Judy Rose said that Richardson "approached the school about making the donation." Since he had "earlier committed to the field naming rights, the school never entertained the idea of Richardson making another donation" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/11). A picture of Richardson holding up a No. 49 UNCC jersey was on the front page of today's Charlotte Observer (THE DAILY).
LESSONS LEARNED: In West Palm Beach, Hal Habib noted FAU AD Pat Chun said that the school has "no leads on a new sponsor" for the $70M football stadium, after the GEO Group in April withdrew plans for naming rights. Chun added that by the fall he hopes to "announce the creation of a bowl game at FAU." Although details are "to be worked out, he expects the bowl to have a tie-in to Conference USA, which FAU officially joins July 1." Chun: "I told our staff, 'In the long history of FAU, this'll be a small bump in the road and we've got to make sure that we learn our lessons from this and make it the best thing that ever happened to us.' It was unfortunate that we lost the gift, but we've got to learn lessons from it." He added, "The gift was vetted, any way you cut it" (PALM BEACH POST, 6/12).