By Kathy Hunter
The unveiling of the New Orleans Saints summer training facility drew an estimated 5,000 people on July 26 to the new AdvoCare Performance Center on The Greenbrier Resort’s grounds. The spirited crowd welcomed the Saints with a big “Who dat” as head coach, Sean Payton and star quarterback Drew Brees took the stage along with elected officials and other dignitaries.
During the dedication, Payton remarked, “We are getting ready to unveil a fantastic facility.” He humorously shared concerns about its completion as pictures would arrive from Greenbrier owner, Jim Justice. “We would get pictures back in New Orleans and we would look at the progress, and some days we would be like, Jim, where are we going to meet?” But, he said, “It all came together and the experience we’ve had already since we’ve been here has been fantastic.” In appreciation, Payton presented Justice with a Saints #1 jersey bearing his name which was humbly accepted by Justice. Payton also presented a jersey to Greenbrier County, this time sporting Greenbrier #1, given in appreciation to be displayed in a place for all to enjoy.
Dr. James Andrews, a noted orthopedic surgeon, was elated as he spoke about the “world class performance facility” and said that this was just the first stage of a three building complex, known as the Greenbrier Medical Institute. With a gleam in his eye, Andrews remarked to Payton, “We want you to deliver us another Super Bowl and I would say between the coach and the quarterback, we have a great shot at doing it again this year.” Once again the crowd gave a big “Who dat” in support of the Saints.
Richard Wright, CEO of AdvoCare International and his wife Sherry were in attendance. Wright spoke of their Louisiana background and said that they have been Saints fans for a long time. “Brees has been our national spokesman for around eight years now,” he iterated
Also in attendance and speaking this day were Jason Pizatella, deputy Chief of Staff on behalf of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Representative Nick Rahall, State Senator Ron Miller (Greenbrier) and Speaker of the House, Tim Miley (Harrison). Many thanks were given to Jim Justice for his dedication and unrelenting efforts to construct this beautiful facility.
With jersey in hand, Mr. Justice and everyone on the stage made their way to the entrance of the AdvoCare Performance Center. A ceremonial ribbon cutting and christening with a bottle of champagne delighted all, as blue and white balloons were released to soar high above the practice field. The Saints were now ready to get to work.
The fans were given the opportunity to tour the new building and watch the team practice on one of the new fields that were constructed. Afterward, a picnic ensued where the fans and team members got together for autographs and photographs.