Some Unhappy With Eagles' Decision To Hold Only One Open Practice
The days of Eagles fans being "able to watch the team practice for free are over," as the team "surprised many fans" by announcing it would hold just one open offseason practice this summer, according to Rob Tornoe of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. That number is "down from two last year" and four in '13, when the team "moved its practices to Philadelphia" from Lehigh Univ. In addition, this is the first year the Eagles will "force fans to pay to attend the open practice, charging $10 per ticket (plus a Ticketmaster fee of $1.22), with the proceeds going toward the Eagles Autism Challenge." The Eagles and the Seahawks are now the "only teams in the NFL to not hold any free practices." The announcement "drew mixed reactions" across Philadelphia. While some fans said that they "didn't have an issue with the decision, others criticized the move to limit the number of open practices." The move also "drew a strong reaction" from hosts at WPEN-FM, with most "calling out the Eagles over the one-two punch of pulling back access and charging fans." However, over on the Eagles' flagship station WIP-FM, there was "hardly any talk at all about the decision, much less any criticism." Morning show host Angelo Cataldi "cheerfully promoted the event during the last hour of his show" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/19).
CLOSING DOORS: In Philadelphia, Zach Berman notes practices "had been open to the public at Lehigh, but the number of opportunities for fans to see training camp has dwindled since the camp came to Philadelphia" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/19). Also in Philadelphia, Reuben Frank wrote under the header, "Eagles Holding Just 1 Open Training Camp Practice Is An Insult To Devoted Fans." The Eagles have an "opportunity to put on a show for their fans two or three times during training camp, and for reasons they haven't explained, they've chosen not to." Eagles fans that "devote their lives" to the team "deserve more than one open practice" (NBCSPORTSPHILADELPHIA.com, 6/18). PHILLYVOICE.com's Natalie Egenolf wrote despite the "well-intended charity angle, this move was poorly thought out and while $10 does not feel steep to some, a family of four who probably used the free training camp practices as a highlight of their summer activities will be the ones who suffer" (PHILLYVOICE.com, 6/18).
FOR A GOOD CAUSE: In Atlantic CIty, David Weinberg writes it is "bad enough they’re restricting access," but to also "charge people to watch their favorite team is wrong." The Eagles are "couching the gouging by announcing all proceeds will be donated to autism research, the organization’s primary charity." Weinberg: "There’s no question it’s a worthy cause, but fans should have the option of donating" (PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY, 6/19). In Pennsylvania, Phil Heron writes, "I'm glad the money will go to the Eagles Autism Challenge, but I can't hide my distaste for the increasingly private nature of summer camp." Slowly but surely, the fans are "being frozen out -- except when they are willing to open their wallets" (DELCOTIMES.com, 6/19). ESPN's Adam Schefter said the Eagles Autism Challenge is "near and dear to (Owner) Jeffrey Lurie's heart," but to charge $10, "I don't love the sound of that." Schefter: "How much money is charging for training camp practices at ten dollars a head going to raise? If it raises ten thousand dollars, twenty thousand dollars, fifty thousand dollars, hundred thousand dollars, a million dollars, are you telling me that the Eagles couldn’t just make that donation and spare the fans?" ("Farzetta & Tra In The Morning," WPEN, 6/19).
BECOMING A TREND: THE ATHLETIC's Lindsay Jones notes limiting training camp access is "becoming more common around the league as the majority of teams hold their camps at home practice facilities that often aren’t conducive to large crowds." The majority of teams are "increasingly catering to season-ticket holders and corporate sponsors during training camp, providing access and VIP experiences at otherwise closed practices." There has to be a "compromise that continues making the NFL, its teams and its players accessible to the general public this time of year." Too much of the "NFL experience is exclusive." Teams must "find a way to keep training camp the one inclusive space for the next generation of fans" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/19).