February 16, 2010, 9:15AM
Gary Walts / The Post-Standard(Left to right) Brandon Renkart, Danny Woodhead and Eric Smith practice at New York Jets summer training camp Aug. 9 at SUNY Cortland.
Washington — The New York Jets want about $200,000 from state economic development agencies or other sources to offset the cost of bringing their training camp back to SUNY Cortland this summer, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
Jets owner Richard “Woody” Johnson discussed the need for financial aid with Schumer in a recent phone conversation about the National Football League team’s plans for this year’s camp, the senator said.
Schumer said he talked to Johnson because the Jets and SUNY Cortland are in the middle of negotiating to bring the team back to Cortland this summer — and possibly for a long-term deal.
The senator said the success of last year’s training camp — which attracted 34,000 fans and pumped about $4.26 million into the local economy — convinced him to support a new agreement with the team that fell one playoff win shy of a trip to the Super Bowl.
“I’m committed to keeping the Jets training camp in Cortland,” Schumer said. “It’s a great economic boost to the community, and if this past season is any indication, then it’s obviously good for Jets football.”
The Jets moved their training camp from Florham Park, N.J., to SUNY Cortland last summer, in part to escape the glare and distractions of training in the New York City metropolitan area.
Schumer said he told Johnson he would urge the state Economic Development Corp. to provide the necessary aid this year, especially since most campus upgrades for the Jets have been completed.
The college spent $545,604 to improve facilities and host the team last summer. Most of the money, $410,000, was provided through an Empire Development Grant from the state.
The largest expense for the college was a $240,000 project to improve the entrance to the stadium complex and its parking lot. The Jets paid for the installation of a natural-grass practice field.
Stephen D. Cannerelli / The Post-StandardNew York Jets fans crowd around the field at SUNY Cortland Aug. 6 for the annual Green and White scrimmage.
Schumer said the $200,000 requested by the Jets this year is for the operational costs of the camp. The Jets pay for their meals, transporting their equipment, players and other costs.
Neither the Jets nor SUNY Cortland officials would confirm the $200,000 figure.
“We have not elaborated beyond saying we definitely enjoyed our time in Cortland,” said Jets spokesman Bruce Speight.
SUNY Cortland spokesman Peter Koryzno also declined to discuss specific details of the negotiations, but said, “We’re looking to have something in place next month.”
“We’re just talking right now,” Koryzno said. “We are looking at things we provided and things they provided, and we’re seeing if we can improve things.”
He added, “Our goal from the very beginning was to provide a setting for the players and coaches and fans that would make for a successful experience for everyone.”
Koryzno said one minor complication this year is a rehabilitation project at the college’s Studio West, the building where the team had player meetings and offices for the coaches. He said the college will find a different building for the team to use during the one-year project.
State officials were not available to comment on the Jets’ request for additional aid.
New York’s two other professional football teams train Upstate, but neither one currently receives financial aid from state or local governments.
The Buffalo Bills, who have trained for the past 10 years at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, have never asked for public money for their summer camp, said Steve Salluzzo, the college’s director of auxiliary enterprises.
The New York Giants, who have trained at SUNY Albany for 14 years, initially benefited from a state investment of $2.3 million for renovations and permanent improvements to campus facilities. The money was from a SUNY construction fund.
For the first seven years until 2003, the Albany Times Union newspaper agreed to be a business sponsor of the Giants and paid most of the approximately $175,000 needed to operate the camp.
After the newspaper ended that arrangement, the Giants agreed to pick up the operational costs.
Karl Luntta, a spokesman for SUNY Albany, said the college is negotiating a new agreement with the Giants this year.