Oh little town of Bethlehem… how inadequate your professional training facilities are.
The Eagles are moving their training camp back to Philly for the first time in 70 years. They’ve spent the past 17 seasons at Lehigh University.
The Philadelphia Eagles will hold Training Camp in Philadelphia this summer both at the NovaCare Complex and at Lincoln Financial Field after staging the team’s annual preseason practices at Lehigh University for the last 17 years.
The new Training Camp plan will include a number of free, public practices at Lincoln Financial Field along with private practices (invitation only) at the NovaCare Complex. The full Training Camp schedule will be released later this spring.
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," Smolenski said. "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.”
But, efficient access to all the facilities at the NovaCare Complex – from the training room which is equipped with everything from a hydrotherapy pool and access to an MRI machine, weight rooms with state of the art equipment, an indoor practice venue, video and computer equipment that utilizes network infrastructure – has become a necessity for the team.
Upon his arrival, Chip Kelly brushed aside a question about whether Eagles would continue holding their camps at Lehigh, saying that he was just trying to get through his first day on the job. But it’s a move that makes sense for the Eagles, who have a state-of-the-art facility to call home and a huge stadium at which to hold public practices. Some folks, I’m sure, we’ll be all pissy that they can no longer drive two hours to stand in the hot sun and watch unrecognizable players drop passes… but this move makes sense (although I would suggest that the Eagles hold camp down the shore, in Sea Isle– 1) because it would be awesome and 2) so Trent Cole could be that much closer to the Princeton, where white P is available in abundance).
Sadly, during the Eagles' last summer in Lehigh, the coach’s son and team strength and conditioning assistant was found dead in his dorm room with a gym bag full of steroids.