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Jets head upstate, move part of training camp to Cortland, N.Y.

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan wanted an isolated spot for summer training camp, and the team has found it in upstate New York.

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Jets owner Woody Johnson said Monday the team will conduct a three-week camp at SUNY-Cortland beginning July 31.

"This is an incredible spot," Johnson said at a news conference on campus with New York Gov. David Paterson as well as school and local officials. "He (Ryan) made it very clear he wanted to go away for camp. That's what he had done through his career. He thought it was the single best way that you can pull a team together, build team chemistry -- and you win in the NFL through team chemistry."

The Jets will begin the training season June 6 with five minicamp practices open to the public at their center in Florham Park, N.J., and then move to Cortland, about a four-hour drive northwest, at the end of July. The Jets also plan some public sessions at their former preseason home at Hofstra University on Long Island.

The new $75 million facility in New Jersey does not have suitable parking or bleachers for the thousands of fans who normally attend training camp, nor does it have dormitories for the players. The possibility of moving camp angered many New Jersey-based fans, who thought they'd get a chance to see their team train close to home.

State University of New York officials had been negotiating with the Jets to act as host, and the team also considered Cornell University, Utica College and Marist College in Poughkeepsie before deciding on Cortland.

The Jets' decision gives upstate New York three NFL summer camps. The New York Giants train in Albany and the Buffalo Bills have made St. John Fisher College in Rochester their summer home since 2000.

Cortland is 30 miles south of Syracuse and less than 20 miles from Cornell, but Johnson said the facilities -- Cortland State has a state-of-the-art football stadium built in 2002 -- and community are what convinced him to move the team here.

"Remote is only part of it. It's getting away from what's familiar and going to what's unfamiliar, bringing these young athletes to a place where they can learn about themselves. It was just too good to be true," Johnson said. "Cortland had everything -- all the facilities and the right atmosphere. This is a beautiful community."

Johnson said the agreement was for one year, but he was hopeful it would become long term. New York state is contributing $410,000 in grants from a discretionary fund controlled by Paterson. The money will be used to upgrade facilities and help defer the costs of hosting the team.

"This is an exciting day for Cortland, and it is the center of the universe today," Paterson joked. "For long-suffering Jets fans like myself, I understand how the preseason can affect the area. It will be a boon. Hofstra University is where I went to law school. I was there when the Jets trained, and I'm telling you, when the summer months came and the Jets were in town, people came from all over the metropolitan region."

The Jets trained for 40 years at Hofstra before moving to Florham Park after camp last year. Ryan's previous team, the Baltimore Ravens, trained in Westminster, Md.

Some fans worried a move to upstate New York would put the Jets in Bills country, far from the team's primary fan base of New Jersey, Long Island and New York City.

There might not be much to worry about if Bills fan Scott Hill is any indication.

"I'm not a Jets fan," said Hill, a 20-year sports management major at SUNY-Cortland who hails from Pembroke near Buffalo. "But I can become one."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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