Goodbye Long Island, hello Florham Park, N.J.
After closing the door on 40 years of memories and tradition with one final practice at Hofstra University last Tuesday, the New York Jets officially opened their new home for business today.
Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson, New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine and other elected officials and dignitaries took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
"This is a monumental day for the New York Jets," Johnson said.
Located in surburban New Jersey, seemingly worlds away from the bright lights of New York, the Jets' new facility looks more like a king's palace than a team headquarters. Johnson called the facility, "the most beautiful site on the face of the earth for a football team."
Joseph Trufino, CEO of Atlantic Health, said the facility is "going to be the envy not only of every other football team but of every professional sports team."
The complex, which spans 224,000 square feet and sits on a 27-acre campus, will provide coaches and players with a state-of-the-art work environment. The facility features five full-length fields (four outdoor, one indoor), along with ten classrooms which Johnson explained were "designed to the highest standards of teaching, learning, air-conditioning and temperature."
Overlooking the practice field is an 11,000 square foot weight room, which, along with the team cafeteria, is surrounded by large glass windows. The view of the field provides Jets players and coaches with a reminder of their goals.
"Everybody who works here is in the same footing," Johnson said. "We know what our business is. Our business is to win; our business is to be competitive."
With the Jets now officially moved into their new home, all lasting ties with New York have now been severed. For a team that has trained at Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y. since 1968 and even spent 19 seasons playing at Shea Stadium (1964-1983) in Queens, N.Y., the Jets can officially call New Jersey their true home. The move became a reality when in March 2006, the Jets announced the relocation to the Garden State, with 40 other sites considered as a possible destination.
Despite the move, Johnson does not feel as if he's leaving his Long Island fan base behind.
"We don't feel we're leaving anyone," Johnson said. "We're still their team. We know where we came from, we know what our roots are, we know our DNA. We're not leaving our fans on Long Island."
Johnson has reiterated his desire to hold the annual "Green and White Practice" back at Hofstra next summer, but he also explained that he plans to make all fans "welcome" at the new facility.
As of now, Johnson still believes the Jets are a New York team.
"I still feel like the New York Jets. The New York Jets are the New York Jets and we represent a large group of people, not only in this area, but also around the country," Johnson said. "Every team we play, whether it's the Arizona Cardinals or the San Diego Chargers, there are displaced New Yorkers or replaced New Yorkers. We get a pretty good following where we are."
After a long weekend off, the team has its first official practice at the new facility tomorrow in which they will prepare for their opening showdown with Chad Pennington and Miami. Be sure to check back to JI for a complete report.
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