The New York Jets have made the small city of Cortland, NY its training camp destination since 2009. Embedded in the mountains of central New York, Cortland was a diamond in the rough for Rex Ryan and the crew. Its quiet city makes it the perfect getaway from the distractions of the big apple and really provides an old fashioned training camp atmosphere for one of the league’s most historic franchises.
The Jets essentially go to college for three weeks as all staff and players stay in the dorms on the SUNY Cortland campus, eat at the dining hall and use the Cortland athletic complex for practice. Practice typically starts in the morning around 10am Eastern Time, however the area surrounding the camp opens its gates at 9am Eastern Time.
For the Cortland community and the Jets fans who travel from all over, Training Camp is more than about just football. Admission into camp is free, and as you walk in you are greeted by staff and sent through a merchandise tent operated by Lids with anything Jets you could possibly imagine, from official game day jerseys to spatulas. Just outside the tent there is a customization trailer where you can get blank jerseys and t shirts personalized however you’d like. Beyond that awaits something unique to the New York Jets training camp, a “Jets fest” where parents and kids can enjoy inflatable rides, contests and activities free of charge.
The Jets event staff stresses the importance on really connecting to their fans, especially the younger generation. They have a booth outside of “Jets fest” for kids to sign up for a fan club exclusively for kids called the “GENJETS” Kids Club. The fan club is for kids under the age of 13 and it gives them access to a kid’s only autograph area, locker room tours at selected events, 10 percent off in the Jets shop and much more. During certain practices, one kid is selected at random from the list of members to be the GENJETS kid of the day, this includes a full tour of press boxes and facilities as well as a chance to meet their favorite player on the field during practice and watch the rest of practice from the side line. For a select few there is a VIP tent for season ticket holders, sponsorship groups and other groups with close ties to the organization where food is provided and the guests have a front row seat to view practice just off the sideline.
The Jets bring a much needed spark to a fairly weak local economy when SUNY Cortland isn’t in session. According to SUNY Cortland’s official college website, the four previous New York Jets training camps hosted at the college have generated a combined total of nearly $20 million in economic impact for not just the city, but the entire Cortland County. Now that’s more than just football. That is an organization helping a community, all while giving back to their fans from all over the country. The fans also show some gratitude and support of their own at the end of every practice as the “J-E-T-S” chant echoes across the complex for all to hear. New York Jets training camp is a perfect display of how the NFL and its players constantly make a positive impact on a community and loyal fans.
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