The Philadelphia Eagles announced Friday that they're ending their 17-year training camp association with Lehigh University and are planning to hold training camp at the team facilities in Philadelphia in 2013. They're the second NFC East team to make such an announcement this offseason, as the New York Giants will hold training camp at home as well instead of at the University of Albany.
The result as it pertains to fans will be less access to the team than you were accustomed to having at training camp. Instead of daily practices open to the public, the Eagles will hold invitation-only private practices at its NovaCare training complex as well as "a number of free, public practices at Lincoln Financial Field," according to the teams news release. Full details will be announced later this spring.
I totally get the convenience aspect of having training camp at home, and I never bought much into the whole idea of training camp as some sort of male bonding experience out in the wilderness somewhere away from family and distractions. And I understand that the Eagles' last training camp at Lehigh was marred by the death of then-coach Andy Reid's son of a drug overdose in his campus dorm room. But I do think it's a shame to see this go away.
I always enjoyed the vibe at Eagles training camp. It was relaxed and easy and the fans would pack the bleachers to watch morning and afternoon practices. It just won't be the same at the big stadium in Philadelphia. It's a real shame, of course, for the school and for the people and local businesses of Bethlehem, Pa., but I'll miss the quiet, pretty setting and the calm atmosphere of the place when I make my annual training camp visits.
The reason for the decision, the Eagles said in their release, was as follows:
"Efficient access to all the facilities at the NovaCare Complex - from the training room which is equipped with everything from a hydrotherapy pool and access to an MRI machine, weight rooms with state of the art equipment, an indoor practice venue, video and computer equipment that utilizes network infrastructure - has become a necessity for the team."
So that's why, in case you were asking. We'll see how it goes. I imagine the next time they change head coaches, it's possible they take the show on the road again. But this is the way Chip Kelly wants it, so in Philly the Eagles will stay year-round.