GLENDALE, Ariz. – As Glendale inched closer to a deal that would bring the Arizona Cardinals' training camp to the Phoenix suburb, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff indicated it is resigned to losing the NFL team.
According to The Arizona Republic, the Cardinals would build a practice bubble encompassing 1 1/2 football fields to stage workouts out of the searing summer heat. Glendale City Council members were briefed on the proposed long-term deal Tuesday.
NAU President John Haeger said in a news release on Tuesday that the university is moving on to other opportunities to make up for the economic loss caused by the Cardinals' departure.
With the exception of one year when an illness outbreak forced a move to Prescott, the Cardinals have trained on the NAU campus since 1988, the year the franchise moved from St. Louis.
Heager said NAU "made an extraordinary offer and worked diligently to negotiate with the team" to keep the Cardinals in Flagstaff.
"We thank the many Cardinals fans who've made NAU a summer destination for 25 years and supported the university, local businesses and the city," he said.
Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Naubors said he was disappointed, but felt Flagstaff, at an elevation of 7,000 feet and a two-hour drive from Phoenix, would remain a summer destination for heat-weary residents.
"We've had a solid partnership with the Cardinals for many years, and we wish them well," Naubors said. "Now we move forward in collaboration with the university, which has been a key partner in economic development for decades."
The anticipated move follows a pattern of NFL teams that used to hold camps some distance from their team headquarters but now train at or close to home.
The Glendale City Council still must vote on any deal. The city would contribute $325,000 to the plan and would replace parking areas lost by the bubble's construction. Players would stay in hotels and not at home during the camp.
According to the Republic, the Cardinals would pay for the bubble, but the city would own it and could stage other events there when the team isn't using it.
Glendale said the camp would provide a $15.3 million economic impact.