Millsaps to host NFL's New Orleans Saints training camp


At one time, Millsaps College made more off parking for other universities’ sporting events that it’s own.


Beginning this month, the college expects to gain national exposure as the summer home of the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints.


Millsaps and Saints officials announced a four-year deal for the Saints to hold their month-long preseason camp on the Jackson campus. Some of the team's practice sessions will be open to the public.


The team will arrive July 27 and begin camp on July 28. The Saints will stay in Jackson until their Aug. 26 preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.


Millsaps President Frances Lucas said it will cost $400,000 each year to host the training camp and that the school and team would split the expenses.


Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said the team expects to train at Millsaps each summer through 2009. He said team and school officials will meet at the end of camp to review and decide whether to trigger an annual renewal clause. "The thing that stuck out about Millsaps is the quality of their facilities," Loomis said. "From the beginning, their staff has bent over backwards to accommodate us."


The Saints will hold 35 practices at Millsaps, sleep in dormitories, utilize two classroom buildings for meetings and eat in the cafeteria. "The first thing we'll need are some bigger beds in the dormitories," Lucas said. "There are things we've both agreed to do to help get the campus ready. We've entered into a wonderful partnership, one we hope lasts a long time."


The Saints will have access to two grass practice fields and an indoor gymnasium during inclement weather. The team also will use an artificial turf surface at Harper Davis Field, where Millsaps' NCAA Division III football team plays its home games.


Millsaps' football team does not report for preseason practice until Aug. 12 and will work around the Saints' practice schedule, athletic director Tim Wise said.


Millsaps officials have said they believe having the Saints on campus will help in recruiting prospective students, especially in Louisiana. In addition, the campus will likely receive national exposure as sports publications and networks report on the Saints’ camp which will feature Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, the team’s first-round draft pick.