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What fans should know about the Raiders’ new training-camp home

Had it not been for some forward-thinking Southern Californians back in the day, the Raiders would be spending part of their summer this year in a little town called Harper.

The team will hold its 2024 training camp in a place called Costa Mesa instead. All thanks to a clever teacher and a cash prize.

True story.

In 1920, a group of local businesses organized a contest to come up with a more fitting name for the town than Harper. Alice Plummer, a former teacher, came up with Costa Mesa. The town’s name was officially changed May 11, 1920.

The Raiders will arrive more than 100 years later, leaving the heat of Henderson for the much cooler conditions of Costa Mesa for training camp.

“I want us to be the tightest group of Raiders that hopefully this organization has seen. And that’s what we’re going to grow and build on and get that physical toughness that we want to build on to training camp,” coach Antonio Pierce said. “And yeah, does it help that it is a little cooler? No doubt. But more importantly, I think it’s just good for our team to bond, to get away and just focus on us.”

So what is there to know about Costa Mesa, which sits 37 miles south of Los Angeles and 88 miles north of San Diego? Here are five fun facts about the Raiders’ new training-camp home.

1. Shopping galore

Costa Mesa has plenty to offer for fans that need to kill a few hours before or after practice.

The South Coast Plaza shopping mall has been the hub of this Orange County city since 1967. Situated just off the 405 freeway, the mall has undergone periodic renovations and expansions over the last 50 years. Its current 2.8 million square feet make it the most spacious mall on the West Coast.

South Coast Plaza features more than 250 retail stores, including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. It also has 30 restaurants ranging from The Capital Grille to Morton’s Steakhouse.

2. Orange County Fair

The Raiders have not announced their exact training camp dates, but Costa Mesa city leaders opened a window from July 19 to August 11 for use of their sprawling Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

That lines up with the Orange County Fair, the most prestigious annual event on the Costa Mesa calendar. The event, located 2.1 miles away from the Raiders’ training-camp site, is a cornucopia of carnival thrills, great food, live entertainment, shopping, animals and agriculture.

Among the entertainment headliners this year are Ziggy Marley, Sublime, Kool & the Gang and UB40.

3. Great beaches

One thing that stands out about Costa Mesa is its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

Both Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are minutes away. They offer a combined 19 miles of access to the Pacific Ocean.

Both locations feature beach activities like hiking, walking, running, biking and body surfing. For regular surfing, check out The Wedge in Newport Beach. It produces the biggest swells in Southern California and can generate waves up to 30 feet high.

4. Excellent weather

Costa Mesa summers reflect the proximity to the beach. That’s a huge change from the heat the Raiders have dealt with since their move to Las Vegas.

The average temperature in Costa Mesa during the time the team is expected to hold training camp is 79.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The average high in Henderson at that point is 104.

That difference isn’t the only reason the Raiders are moving. They’ll have more team-bonding opportunities with everyone away from home for camp. But the milder conditions will definitely help.

5. Easy to get to

The trek from Las Vegas to Costa Mesa is simple whether one is driving or flying.

It’s about 275 miles by car and the journey should take between four and four-and-a-half hours depending on the time of day. A flight takes a little over an hour. John Wayne Airport is located about nine miles south of Costa Mesa.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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