Training Camp To Be Held In Philly, Not Lehigh

New regime, new site for training camp.

The Eagles announced Friday that they will hold training camp in Philadelphia this summer both at the NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field, ending a 17-year run at Lehigh University.

According to the team, the new set-up will include a number of free, public practices at the Linc along with private practices by invitation only at NovaCare. Here is part of the press release announcing the change:

The Eagles become the 21st NFL team to move practices to their own facilities as the demands of practice make it more and more difficult to replicate what the teams have at their practice facilities.

The decision was a very difficult one for the entire organization, noted team president Don Smolenski.

“There are so many people at Lehigh University who went above and beyond to accommodate us and to make training camp a special place for fans to travel each summer to get an up-close look at the team.  We especially want to thank and recognize  Joe Sterrett, Dean of Athletics, who opened the doors for us 17 years ago and has been supportive every step of the way and Mary Kay Baker, Director of Conference and Special Housing Services, who was there for us on a daily basis to make sure everything ran smoothly. It’s people like them who made this such a difficult decision for us.

“The city of Bethlehem has been part of our lives every summer for the past 17 years.”

Andy Reid found value in bringing his team to the quiet hills of Bethlehem, believing that it promoted team bonding. The Eagles continued making the trek each summer as more and more teams around the NFL opted to stay at home. Chip Kelly is choosing a different, perhaps more modern, direction.

The number of teams going away for training camp is dwindling. Last year, only 13 of the  32 clubs held training camp on a college campus. In most cases, their own facilities are superior to the ones that they will find at the universities.

Kelly is big on efficiency and maximizing practice time. One issue with Lehigh is that their indoor facility is not conducive to holding true practices in. If it rains, the Eagles have been limited to walk-throughs. At the NovaCare, they can retreat to their bubble and hold a more meaningful practice.

The down side is that it is difficult to cultivate the same kind of fan-player intimacy found at Lehigh in this setting.

“The interaction with our fans during the training camp period remains a huge priority. As such, we are currently planning to utilize the opportunities available to us at Lincoln Financial Field to have a number of open practices (which will be free) available to all of our fans,” said Smolemski. “We’ll announce those specific plans in the coming weeks.”

This will be the first time that Eagles training camp has been in Philadelphia since 1943 when practice was held at St. Joseph’s University.

“Lehigh University has enjoyed hosting the Eagles training camp for the past 17 seasons on our campus and on our athletic fields,” said Lehigh Dean of Athletics Joe Sterrett. “We realize the Eagles are embarking upon a new era for their team and we wish Coach Kelly and the team all the best in the upcoming season.”

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  • Andy

    This decision makes sense for the team.

  • Token

    good

  • nicksaenz1

    I might actually be inclined to go training camp now.

    • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

      That’s true. This certainly makes it a hell of a lot easier for me to get there.

  • Bob A

    I have no problem with this as long as there are plenty of practices at the Linc. Remember, at Lehigh, you could go to everything except the first day time trial, the walk throughs before the preseason games, and the indoor practices. Mostly, there were 2 practices a day every day for 2 weeks. If he changes it to say , just 5 free practices all preseason with everything else at Novacare( and hidden from the fans), the fans will perceive it as the team and Chip Kelly taking the team from the fans. This could work out just fine, but the Eagles have to be smart about it.

  • Bdawk20

    Why not practice in the facilities that you play in. Love this idea.

  • Shark

    Sucks because Lehigh made it a fun atmosphere, but if this means better practices and more wins I’m all for it, plus a trip to the Linc for free aint too bad either.

  • ICDogg

    On a personal level I’m sad that I won’t be able to get out to camp to watch practice as I have in the past. I don’t think there will be many public practices at the Linc, and whatever there is will just be a dog-and-pony show for the fans, not an actual practice.

    • southy

      That would nullify the whole point of keeping it in Philly: not wasting practice days.

  • Stephen Stempo

    I get it. But as someone living in Bethlehem it was really something nice for the area and it helped a lot of local business too. I personally loved it because it was a 5 minute drive. It was a nice time too. Good naturedly heckling koy detmer was always me and my friends highlights. It makes sense to do it at novacare no doubt about it and if I were in charge I’d do the same thing, still sad to see it go. I spent a lot of my formative years going to training camp.

  • xlGmanlx

    Just run OTA’s at lehigh, give the fans access to the players, doesn’t require all the same amenities as training camp.

  • Birds24/7

    Leigh was fun going to miss it. It might be free to get into the practices but I’d wager they still charge 25 dollars to park

  • peteike

    “The down side is that it is difficult to cultivate the same kind of the fan-player intimacy found at Lehigh in this setting.” I really think it hurts the family atmosphere and the chance for kids to meet the players etc. Being free, will just cause more rude adults to ruin it for kids and families which I think is too bad. I also wonder about the open practices at the linc, hope they arent just walk throughs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/priceperhead1 Jake Richards

    Although not attending the camp the team will train elsewhere to change your routine.Visit us
    http://www.priceperhead.com/

    • Greenie

      Go sling your garbage somewhere else, TROLL!!

  • FinsterBaby

    This is sad because being an Eagles fan stuck in North Jersey it is tough to be close to what’s going on with my team and being able to go to camp helped. Also camp at Lehigh was one of the only things that enabled me to turn my twin daughters into Eagles fans despite my wife’s best attempts to turn them in to Giants fans. I definitely understand why Kelly would want to make this call and it makes sense but free practices at the Linc will never be the same as training camp…

    • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

      Try being an Eagles fan in Nova Scotia Canada… where theres 12 football fans they all love the Patriots.

    • peteike

      I hear ya, my wife is a Giants and Yankees fan, brutal, oh and devils. Shes trying to trade yankees for Eagles for my son. Still time though, I will def try to get all Philly monopoly on his fanhood.

      • FinsterBaby

        Mine too she tries to convert them but every time it gets close I take them to a game in Philly and it sets her back for a while…

    • magicmikec

      Not many Eagles fans here in Melbourne, Aust as well.

  • CJ

    I’ve gone just about every year since they were in Lehigh, so I’m very bummed, but I get it.

  • Graham

    With the system that’s coming in this is no surprise. Since Chip was hired there’s been talks about his innovative practices and how he keeps them in semi-secrecy, obviously he’d want to move it back. When all 31 other teams are waiting for you to start up training camp to see what all the hype is about, it would be best to move back to the complexes. Not to mention the technology they need and what not (Sports Science Coordinator for ex).. best to have it back at Novacare where they have the facilities and resources to accommodate the new system.

    This is a new era in Philadelphia, and unfortunately with it comes the demise of Lehigh, something we’ve grown to look forward to every spring :(

    • Mostel

      Teams are not allowed to scout another team’s training camp by NFL rule if the camp has free admission. The Reskins messed this up a few years ago when Snyder charged admission to their camp. Kelly woudln’t have anything to worry about.

  • Absecon

    Smart decision, but too bad for Lehigh and the fans that would attend! Onward and upward, though! New day and a new era….

  • Johnny Domino

    “The down side is that it is difficult to cultivate the same kind of fan-player intimacy found at Lehigh in this setting.”

    I’ll miss stuff like sighting Jim McMahon weaving his scooter through West Chester late at night, or Horst Muhlmann holding down the corner stool at the Campus Casino in Chester, between practice sessions no less. Anybody got a good Godfrey Daniel’s story?

    Memories…………….

  • Mostel

    This is a HORRIBLE move for the fans unless they make the same number, or more, of practices open to the public. The Eagles can hold their practices in whatever city they wish, but they are ripping off the fans from a great chance to get close to the team. How many children will get autographs now? I get having the practices in Philly, but they need to be open to the public!

  • wydok

    Gah! I get the move, but I was literally a mile from Lehigh. :(