The Arizona Cardinals may have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl than they do returning to Prescott for training camp.
The city hosted a one-week stint in 2004 when Dennis Green and the Cardinals held preseason camp at Ken Lindley Field that August. The city really proved itself the next year when it absorbed the full camp with less than a week's notice.
The Cardinals then signed a three-year agreement with Flagstaff to return their camp to NAU, the team's preseason home from 1988-2003. They open camp in Flagstaff Friday, but could they open camp in Prescott again when their contract runs out up north in 2008?
"I honestly don't know if we'd have a chance," summed up Jane Bristol, the City of Prescott's economic development director. "We haven't created new facilities for them so we would have some of the same issues as last time."
As successful a trip as it was, under the circumstances of a viral outbreak at NAU, the camp did expose some disadvantages for Prescott. Providing a locker room for more than 60 pro football players is easier said than done.
"The facilities they have at NAU are so much more fitting for a football team than we have," Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Athletic Director Larry Stephan said. "They just have larger spaces for them than we have."
ERAU stepped in two summers ago when the outbreak evacuated some dorms at NAU. The Cardinals moved into the Prescott campus for room, board and office space. Embry-Riddle had a few frenzied days to plan and construct a temporary locker room.
While in Prescott the Cardinals also stayed in local hotels and practiced at Pioneer Park. The added attention, with the addition of All-Pro quarterback Kurt Warner, brought national media interest to Prescott.
The following offseason featured a bidding war between Prescott and Flagstaff for the Cardinals who were without a contract. In the end, the Cardinals opted to return to Flagstaff.
The Cardinals will again find themselves preseason camp "free agents" when the three-year deal with Flagstaff runs out next summer. The franchise did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment on their long-term plans.
Prescott maintains an interest in bringing the team back to town for training camp. Bristol says the city has "talked about it," and Stephan said Wednesday "we will probably bid again."
What they're all waiting on is the Cardinals. The franchise has no real precedent on a bidding process since their last one was also their first. The team also looked into Payson as a host site.
No records exist of the direct economic impact the Cardinals' arrival had on the City of Prescott. Prescott Chamber of Commerce CEO David Maurer, who held the same position in Flagstaff during the 1990s, said that a 2003 study of Flagstaff [NAU College of Business Administration] showed Cardinal Camp resulted in a $2 million boost to the city's economy that year.