Degree or Bust
Camping In California Again
DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
October 24, 2003, 2:35 p.m. (CDT)
IRVING, Texas - For the first time since 1989, the Dallas Cowboys will begin a training camp outside of the state of Texas, announcing Friday they are heading back to Oxnard, Calif., for at least the next two summers.
The Cowboys spent two weeks in Oxnard before the 2001 season, and enjoyed the experience so much they will now spend their entire camp there after agreeing to a two-year contract with an option for a third year with the facility formerly used by the Raiders just off the Pacific Ocean.
This will bring an end to the Cowboys' two-year training camp stay at the Alamodome in San Antonio, financial and scheduling conflicts forcing the Cowboys to find a more suitable alternative.
"Our camp experience for the past two years has been nothing short of outstanding," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "Our organization has benefited from the support of the city of San Antonio, its leaders and a tremendous following of enthusiastic Dallas Cowboys fans."
But contentious negotiations, along with a Church of God convention scheduling conflict at the Alamodome for the coming summer, caused the Cowboys to move their training camp site for what will become the third time in four years. The Cowboys intended to cut a multi-year deal with the city of San Antonio this past spring, but the unexpected conflict with the convention at the Alamodome after the city council had approved the contract caused the Cowboys to begin looking elsewhere.
And even though the Cowboys had not turned their back on the possibility of returning to San Antonio next summer, the officials there then began asking for the Cowboys to pay approximately $400,000 for the use of their fields, which would be on top of the premium price the team was paying to stay at a downtown San Antonio hotel and cater meals into the Dome. The club had fields provided for their training camps in Austin at Midwestern University and at Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas.
That turned the Cowboys attention back to Oxnard, where they enjoyed the second part of a split camp in 2001 after practicing three weeks in Wichita Falls.
"At the end of the day, it made a lot more sense to go to California," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "We have mixed emotions (leaving the state of Texas for camp) with the great fans we have here, but we do spend all our other time here in the state.
"And we have a lot of fans in California, and with no team in L.A., this is not only good for the Cowboys, but good for the NFL."
Oxnard provides near-idyllic conditions for training camp, the temperatures averaging in the 70s, and usually dipping into the 60s for the start of the morning practices and by the end of the afternoon practices. The Riverview athletic complex, adjacent to the Marriott Residence Inn where the team will stay, also was ideal logistically for the organization to set up shop for an entire training camp.
"Training camp in Southern California has played an important role in our organization's history and there is a strong concentration of fans in that part of the country," Jones said. "The Oxnard location provides a quality working environment for an NFL team."
This might be the second year the Cowboys will train in Oxnard, but the organization is quite familiar with the area, having trained in nearby Thousand Oaks, Calif., for 27 years (1963-89) at California Lutheran College. After buying the team in 1989, Jones and the Cowboys spent one year in Thousand Oaks before moving training camp to Austin to attract more fan attention.
But the intense summer heat in Texas had the Cowboys looking for safer alternatives, and that is one reason why they became the first NFL club to stage an entire training camp indoors when using the Alamodome the past two years. Staying out of the heat and not wearing out the players was a priority when looking for an alternative sight.
The Riverview complex in Oxnard, about 20 miles west of Thousand Oaks, is ideal for the players since it is a self-contained facility, which cuts down on the daily travel. The players were forced to expedite their travel in Austin and Wichita Falls between the practice fields, locker rooms, dorms and cafeterias by using golf carts. In San Antonio, the players either were bussed from the hotel to the Alamodome or rode their own bicycles.
However, no wheels are needed in Oxnard. The players and coaches can conveniently walk from their rooms to the locker room, cafeteria, meeting rooms and practice fields.
"It was a combination of everything," Stephen Jones said of the move out West. "It just makes more sense. We had a great experience in San Antonio and the fans were fabulous. But because we were involved with such a big facility (Alamodome), there were a lot of moving parts and hard to nail down something to everybody's satisfaction.
"We had a great time (in Oxnard) and it was a great experience for the team."
HISTORY OF DALLAS COWBOYS TRAINING CAMP SITES June 3, 1960 -- The newly formed Dallas Cowboys franchise announces that it will train at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Rookies report on July 9.
May 24, 1961 -- Due to its proximity to their first exhibition game against Minnesota in Minneapolis, the Dallas Cowboys move training camp to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Camp opens on July 9.
June 8, 1962 -- The Dallas Cowboys move their training camp site to the campus of Northern Michigan College on the shores of Lake Superior in Marquette, Mich. Rookies report on July 13.
July 12, 1963 -- Because the team will play three of its first four preseason games on the west coast, the Dallas Cowboys move training camp to California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks, Calif. This camp, which will be the first of 27 at CLC, opens on July 12.
Dec. 6, 1989 -- For the first time in the 30-year history of the team, the Dallas Cowboys will train in Texas as the club announces its 1990 training camp will be held at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. This camp, which will be the first of eight at St. Ed's, opens on July 22.
Feb. 17, 1998 -- The Cowboys begin a four-year stay at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas with their 1998 camp. The first camp at Midwestern State University opens on July 16 of that year.
May 17, 2002 -- The Cowboys continue their run of Texas based camps by announcing the 2002 training camp will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. This begins a two-year stay in the Alamo City.
Oct. 24, 2003 -- The Cowboys announce a multi-year agreement to host training camp at the Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, Calif.
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