By NAU Public Affairs
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The NFL has settled its labor dispute, answering a question that has been asked a lot lately in Flagstaff: Yes, the Arizona Cardinals are coming to town.
The full 2011 camp schedule is still to come, but the team will begin training camp Thursday when players officially report to the team's Tempe facility. Players will undergo physicals the next day and then head to Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University.
Practice begins at NAU Saturday afternoon, and the team also will have an afternoon practice Sunday as the Cards get their first on-field work since the 2010 season ended in San Francisco in early January.
The return of the Cardinals is good news for sports fans and the local economy. An economic impact report prepared last year by NAU said that more than 38,000 people attended training camp sessions or the Red and White Scrimmage, 81 percent of them being out-of-town visitors. As a result, the camp contributed nearly $7 million to the local economy, with a total impact of nearly $10 million.
Less easy to calculate, but no less important for NAU, are the intangible benefits of an NFL team spending a few weeks on campus. Not only does the event draw national media coverage (for example, NAU recently being named "Best training camp venue"), but the daily visits to campus by Cardinals fans from around the state and region may also contribute to future enrollment at the university.
"We look forward to welcoming the Arizona Cardinals players and their fans to campus," said NAU President John Haeger. "The team's annual visit to Northern Arizona University plays a key part in energizing the local economy. As a longstanding partner, we wish them a successful season."
The Cardinals have trained at NAU since the team moved to Arizona in 1988. Last year, the university and the team renewed their partnership with a three-year agreement that runs through the 2012 season. This year, the team will use the upgraded locker rooms that are part of the refurbishment of the Walkup Skydome.
Training camp practice information
Practices will be held on the grass fields across from the Walkup Skydome on South San Francisco Street.
In the event of inclement weather, practices may be moved inside the Skydome, which is in the final stages of a major renovation. Those practices will be closed to the public.
All other training camp practices are open to the public at no charge and for detailed listing of practice dates and times, visit AZCardinals.com.