Posted at: 01/04/2013 11:27 PM
Updated at: 01/05/2013 9:14 PM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - The reigning Super Bowl Champion New York Giants have a new game plan that doesn't include Albany. After spending 16 of the last 17 summers training on the University at Albany campus, the most time they've spent at any preseason site in the team's 88-year history, the G-men are leaving town.
Sixteen summers of bright blue Albany skies are over for Big Blue, their time in the Capital Region has expired.
"After watching what's been going on for 16 years, I'm not surprised," said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings.
Jennings says once the Giants opened their new, indoor, state-of-the-art Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Albany exodus handwriting was on the wall.
"If you remember, when they first started here, there were probably 25 or 26 days of practice," Jennings recalled, "If you cut that in half, weather dependent, and you can't reschedule it, it's tough to get a team ready."
In a statement issued on Friday, team President CEO John Mara said, "The Giants are grateful to Mayor Jennings and to (University at Albany Athletic Director) Dr. Lee McElroy and his staff for providing the resources we needed to prepare for the season."
The Giants also told university officials they'll continue to evaluate their training camp situation and they haven't ruled out the possibility of returning to Albany.
"Hopefully they'll be back, I still hold out hope," said Dan Knickerbocker, a bartender at the Across the Street Pub for 25 years, who says a summer without the Giant could cut into his business by 20% or more. "Every year, there's groups of people that come in just for this camp, people who take their two weeks vacation to come here. I see them four or five nights a week that I'm here."
It's not just businesses that are feeling blue. The University at Albany issued a news release saying their relationship with the Giants "has provided them with yet another avenue to promote our great university. We will miss the excitement and engagement the team brings to our campus."
"As far as I'm concerned, it's our responsibility to make the university more attractive for them to come back," Jennings said, "That's what we're going to do.
If you're planning to attend Giants summer training camp in New Jersey, the dates will be announced later this spring when the preseason schedule is finalized.