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Report: Lions get offer to move training camp to West Virginia

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — With the lingering threat of COVID-19, will the Detroit Lions consider taking their training camp on the road for the first time since 2002 to minimize risks? That remains to be seen, but according to a report from Pro Football Talk, the Lions have a standing offer from The Greenbrier, a luxury West Virginia resort that has hosted the Texans and Saints in recent years. 

"Per multiple sources, the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers have received proposals from The Greenbrier resort for 2020 training camp," Pro Football Talk wrote. "The realities of the pandemic are prompting some teams to look elsewhere for training-camp locations."

Allen Park has been the Lions' training camp home since 2002.

In recent years, the Lions have been reluctant to move the entirety of training camp practices away from the team's facility in Allen Park. 

"No talk about it," team president Rod Wood said last year. "Logistically that's a challenge, and having now played and practiced against teams on the road, we know what it's like to move your entire operation. To move it permanently for training camp, I think would be more than the benefit you might get from being away. It's not on our radar."

Prior to the opening of the facility, the Lions last conducted training camp on the road in 2001, capping five consecutive years at Saginaw Valley State. The only time the team has held its camp outside the state was 1945, at Windsor's Assumption College. 

On the other hand, the team has had joint camp practices on the road the past four years against the Texans, Raiders, Colts and Steelers.  

The Lions aren't set to open training camp this year until late July. Despite the NFL recently allowing the restricted reopening of team facilities around the country, Michigan's current COVID-19 guidelines, which prohibits gatherings of more than 10 outside for non-essential businesses, would seemingly require significant loosening of restrictions before the start of camp. 

That said, two other states hit hard by the pandemic, New York and New Jersey, offered some hope in recent days after the governors of those states green-lighted pro sports teams hosting training camp. 

More: Film review: Scouting new Lions nose tackle Danny Shelton

"Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last weekend. “I believe sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena, do it! Work out the economics if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports to the extent people are still staying home. It gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible, and we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen."

Those comments were echoed in a statement from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday. 

"Professional sports teams in NJ may return to training and even competition – if their leagues choose to move in that direction," Murphy wrote. "We have been in constant discussions with teams about necessary protocols to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, and personnel."

As it currently stands, most NFL teams, including the Lions, are conducting the early portions of their offseason programs virtually.

The Lions did not immediately respond to the report regarding an invite from The Greenbrier. 

The Greenbrier, nestled in the Allegheny Mountains in White Sulphur Springs, W.V., did not host an NFL training camp in 2019. The previous two offseasons, the Texans used the facility, while the Saints came to town the previous three years (2014-16).