Are the Dallas Cowboys Southern California’s team?

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

OXNARD, Calif. – As the Cowboys and Raiders concluded their two-day joint practice in Oxnard on Wednesday, the temperature back in Dallas hovered in the mid-90’s. At Cowboys camp, the temperature was a comfortable 72 degrees, meaning there was more hot air coming from the Cowboys’ and Raiders’ fans in the stands than on the field. But for America’s Team, hosting its training camp just outside of the country’s second-largest media market indicates more than just an escape from the Texas summer humidity.

This marks the ninth year the Cowboys have prepared for a season at the River Ridge Playing Fields in Oxnard. The team has switched between that location and San Antonio since 2001, but the team’s history in the area pre-dates Jerry Jones.

(Michael Colangelo/USC Sports Business Institute)
(Michael Colangelo/USC Sports Business Institute)

Beginning in the early 1960’s, the Tom Landry-led Cowboys held their training camp every year in nearby Thousand Oaks, escaping the sweltering summer heat and forging a more cohesive team far away from Texas-sized distractions at tiny California Lutheran College. Jerry Jones purchased the franchise in 1989 and after firing Landry following the 1989-‘90 season, relocated training camp to Texas for the next decade.

Given that the contract to hold training camp in Oxnard expires after this stint, one wonders how much longer the Cowboys intend to uphold their tradition of camping in Southern California.

Michael Colangelo/USC Sports Business Institute
(Michael Colangelo/USC Sports Business Institute)

The City of Oxnard for one hopes Jerry doesn’t decide to camp at home in the future.

In speaking to representatives from the city stationed on-site, the Cowboys’ presence is a welcomed one come late July. The team works closely with the city to staff volunteer employees, and concessions are run by a nearby high school. The Oxnard Chamber of Commerce has yet to release the economic impact data for this year’s camp, but estimates that last year’s visitors generated nearly $4 million on hotels, shopping and restaurants.

One can assume that from a Cowboys’ front office perspective, being stationed outside of Los Angeles — a city that also happens to be devoid of a NFL franchise — is an opportunistic business maneuver. For several weeks, Cowboys staff can make use of their off hours to interface with the many L.A.-based league and network executives, entertain clients and broker potential business deals. The location enables the Cowboys to dip into Southern California businesses for sponsorship activation around training camp. And of course there’s the obvious, satisfying tens of thousands of their customers — in this case transplanted Cowboys fans who rarely get the opportunity to see the team’s stars up close.

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