It appears Camp Tontozona must undergo major upgrades before first-year Arizona State University football coach Todd Graham will resume preseason training at the scenic mountain retreat.
Acquisition of state-of-the-art technology services would be among the improvements needed mostly because cell phones and other communication devices cannot receive signals there due to the camp’s remote location.
One of the major complaints about Tontozona, before the ASU team stopped training there in 2007, was the coaching staff did not have direct access to the latest in Internet and phone services to track recruits and oversee other sports-related concerns.
Also, technology upgrades are needed because some players enroll in summer online classes and the World Wide Web is a must if the student-athletes are to stay current with the courses during a stay at Tontozona.
Sources indicate that for Graham to commit to return to the camp, other improvements must be made to training facilities including medical and strength training.
Since those upgrades would require an infusion of funds, the task of earning that money could fall on the shoulders of booster groups who have been clamoring for the team to return to Tontozona since former ASU coach Dennis Erickson pulled the plug on the camp in 2008 in favor of holding preseason practices in the Dickey Dome and Kajikawa fields on the school’s campus.
While most of the majority of the boosters that pitch in to help solicit funds are Valley residents, there are those in the Christopher Creek-Kohl’s Ranch vicinity, including real estate agent and ASU alum Tim Ehrhardt, who believe ASU’s return to the historic camp would be an economic boon to the area.
He says he’s trying to convince Payson and Christopher Creek residents to get involved in the effort to bring the Sun Devils back to Tontozona because, “I think there is a lot of upside for both (towns).”
He also says, “I would be really disappointed if local leadership doesn’t make it happen.”
The 36-acre campsite located in the Tonto National Forest has been renowned since 1960 as a summer training camp for Arizona State University football teams — two of which went to Rose Bowl games.
Over the years, Tontozona became known as the most scenic and pristine preseason campsite in collegiate football and was long considered the most sacred place in ASU gridiron lore.