Eagles President Don Smolenski met with a group of reporters Friday to discuss the team’s decision to hold training camp in Philadelphia this year. Some takeaways:
— While the official number is to be determined, the Eagles are hopeful to have four or five open practices at the Linc. They will be full-scale practices, according to Smolenski, and free of charge.
— The rest of the practices (about 9-12 of them) will be at NovaCare, which is really limited in terms of the number of fans it can accommodate. Smolenski estimates that they can have 300-400 fans at any given time. (They guessed that roughly 8-10 thousand fans would typically be at Lehigh on a given day.) Practices at NovaCare are by invitation only.
— The driving force for the move really seemed to be practicality. The facilities are better at the NovaCare than at Lehigh, and moving away from those facilities — complete with MRI machines and “video and computer equipment that utilizes network infrastructure” — was making less and less sense.
— Birds 24/7 will still have you covered. According to league rules: “Beginning the first day of preseason training camp through at least the completion of Week 2 of the NFL preseason schedule, all daily practices must be open in their entirety to local media (those who regularly cover the team). It is permissible to limit the videotaping or photographing of certain portions of training camp practices.”
— Smolenski said that they have been talking about switching training camp locations for some time, and became more serious about it towards the end of this past season. Chip Kelly is obviously on board and was part of the decision-making process, but by the sounds of it the organization was thinking about making the change before he was in place as head coach. Andy Reid was a fan of going away to training camp, and was a big reason why the Eagles maintained the tradition through last year.
— It is not yet known whether the players will all be staying at a hotel during camp, or if the veterans will be allowed to sleep at home.
— The benefits of the practices being in Philly?
“I think with the open practices at the stadium, certainly we can accomodate more people,” said Smolenski. “It’s at a location people can get to through the highways and the infrastructure, and we can schedule those well in advance so people can mark them of their calendar and it can become a destination date.”