No Place Like Home: Eagles Moving Camp From Lehigh To Team HQs, Lincoln Financial
The Eagles "will no longer be holding training camp" at Lehigh Univ. after 17 years at the school, and will instead hold preseason practices at the team's HQs "at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia and at Lincoln Financial Field," according to Jeff McLane of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Eagles President Don Smolenski said that the team had been "leaning in that direction for some time." But the transition from longtime coach Andy Reid to new head coach Chip Kelly this year, "along with the logistics of having to move the entire football operation to Bethlehem, Pa., for three weeks each summer, spurred the decision." Smolenski called it "an organizational decision." But if Kelly wanted to "continue having camps at Lehigh, the team likely would have gone along." As NFL facilities have become "more advanced, more teams have opted to stay home." The Eagles said that 21 of the league's 32 teams "now hold training camp at their practice facilities." The Eagles intend to "hold practices that will be open and free to the public." Smolenski said, "We view it as an opportunity for our partners, our season-tickets holders, fans. We have the ability to invite them and have them be a part of it." He estimated that the team drew "anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 fans a day at Lehigh." Lehigh AD Joe Sterrett said that he was "disappointed but that he understood why the Eagles chose to end their relationship." He said, "I don't think it will be the complete end of our relationship, but I don't know what that means going forward" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/16).