ASU football returns to training camp after renovations

Arizona State University football players are returning to a newly renovated training camp, restoring a beloved football tradition.

The Sun Devils had to cancel the preseason training camp last year at their usual facility near the mountain town of Payson after wet conditions delayed the installation of an artificial grass football field, The Arizona Republic reported Monday.

The field, part of more than $1 million in renovations, was completed in April at Tonto Creek Camp.

"The reality of mother nature is there are water and other issues," camp CEO Tom Fraker said. "To wait for it to dry out and have the right conditions to lay the field was the right choice."

The university-owned facility was previously named Camp Tontozona, but coaches and players know it as Camp Kush. Former coach Frank Kush ordered the creation of the football field at the camp in the late 1950s so the team could train away from the desert heat in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe.

The team has since returned most summers to train in the forest, but weather has caused problems in recent years. The camp-ending scrimmage was cancelled in 2016 because of rain. Rain then delayed the game the next year, prompting a push for an artificial field.

Money was raised to put in artificial grass, a new fence and a retaining wall, said Mike Chismar, the university's senior associate athletic director. Bleachers also will be brought so fans can watch the final camp practice.

"We wanted to make sure it was done right," Chismar said. "There is no question this lengthens the life of Camp Tontozona."

The Sun Devils will be at the 36-acre (14.5 hectare) facility for five days starting Tuesday.