July 26, 2013

Cowboys could move training camp to North Texas

An indoor practice facility that seats 10,000 to 12,000 could be built in Frisco by 2016.

The Dallas Cowboys will train at least two weeks in Oxnard again next year.

They could return to San Antonio at some point, too, for training camp.

But Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team is open to hosting at least a part of future training camps in North Texas.

Jones would not discuss a possible move of the Cowboys’ training facility from Irving, its home since 1985, to Frisco. But an indoor practice facility that seats 10,000 to 12,000, which could be built in Frisco by 2016, would allow the team to have fans watch some practices during the preseason.

“If we move from Valley Ranch, and we do a deal like that, then I could see where you have some time there where some fans in North Texas could come out and enjoy some practice,” Jones said Friday.

Now in their 54th training camp, the Cowboys have never trained in Dallas-Fort Worth. They have trained in Texas — Austin, Wichita Falls and San Antonio — a few times.

But California has been their primary training camp home, primarily because of the weather.

Name blame

The Cowboys understand the debate created by the name change from Cowboys Stadium to AT&T Stadium, but it was at their insistence — not the Dallas-based telecommunications company — that “Cowboys” not be part of the new name.

“That was our decision all the way,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Friday. “It was not anything we considered. We wanted it to be AT&T Stadium, and in no way were they the ones leading the charge that there be no Cowboys in the name.

“We just felt like AT&T Stadium says a lot, and it’s important for us for it say a lot to our fans that we’re committed to being best in class when it comes to connectivity and technology.”

Jones said having AT&T as the stadium’s namesake will allow the Cowboys to continue to compete for fans’ living rooms.

The Cowboys drew a league-best 735,278 last season, an average of 91,910, in the NFL’s biggest venue.

But the NFL has increasingly become a made-for-TV game, and the Cowboys believe their expanded relationship with AT&T will allow them to be innovative.

They were the first team to show live shots of players in their locker room on the stadium’s video board, a requirement of the NFL beginning this season.

They could expand that to show a portion of the head coach’s halftime speech or somehow present a player’s perspective from the game.

“It was more than just the money, at the end of the day, to us,” Jones said. “…We’re going to have to be innovative, and they want us to be.

“We certainly want to hold each other to a high standard, AT&T Stadium to a high standard, and we’ll certainly be making the investments that we need to make along with AT&T to make AT&T Stadium best in class.”

Free’s job

During the off-season, Doug Free agreed to cut his pay in half to $3.5 million.

He had been expected to have to compete with Jermey Parnell for the starting right tackle job, but with Parnell out with a hamstring injury, the job appears to be Free’s.

“It was going to be healthy competition over there,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “There is going to be a healthy competition regardless. [Parnell] is going to be able to show what he can do and how he fits into this offensive line.

“Unfortunately for a young player to miss this time, though, to miss in the spring and also the start of camp, it’s a critical time for him. We’ve just got to get him back as quickly as possible.”

After playing every snap the first 12 games, Free gave up some of his plays to Parnell to end last season.

Free played 179 snaps in the final four games, with Parnell getting 84.

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