NBC10.com - Monique Braxton
The Philadelphia Eagles announced their training camp will no longer be held at Lehigh University, which has hosted the team for the past 17 years. Instead, practices will take place in South Philadelphia where the team plays during the regular season. NBC10's Monique Braxton reports on how business in the Lehigh Valley area will be affected.
No more summer commutes for Eagles players to Bethlehem.
The team announced Friday that this year's training camp will take place in its NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field after 17 years on the campus of Lehigh University.
Team president Don Smolenski says the decision was made, in part, because of the ready access to its equipment and facilities at its home base, including the training room and indoor practice venue, too.
He called it a difficult choice, noting the school and the city have “been part of our lives every summer for the past 17 years.”
“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,” Smolenski said in a statement. "The city of Bethlehem has been part of our lives every summer for the past 17 years."
The return marks the first time since 1943 that the team's training camp has been in Philadelphia.
Last year, former coach Andy Reid's oldest son, Garrett, was found dead at training camp after a long battle with drug addiction. Reid was let go at the end of last season after a 4-12 record and 14 years. He was replaced by former Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
Smolenski said the team aims to continue its interaction with fans during the training camp - the dates of which have not yet been announced - calling that a “huge priority” for the organization.
“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,” he said. “We'll announce those specific plans in the coming weeks.”
Before first going to Lehigh in 1996, the Eagles held training camp at West Chester University from 1980-1995. Before that, the team held training camp at Widener University, Albright College and in Hershey, Pa.
The move back to team headquarters is becoming something of a trend in the NFL. The New York Giants in January elected to return training camp back to their complex in East Rutherford, N.J., after 16 years at the University at Albany.
The team says they are still interested in keeping a relationship with Lehigh community and desire to explore community programs in the future.