The Eagles' first training camp at the team's practice facility and stadium begins next week, and the fields are set up outside the NovaCare Complex for the change. There are three parallel fields and one area for individual work, surrounded by tents and signage. Practices at the facility will accommodate 300-400 fans, and then there are five practices at Lincoln Financial Field.
This is unprecedented for the Eagles, so various departments have been working toward training camp for months. They will continue up until the first practice at the stadium on July 28.
"As we started to get into a lot of the logistics, some of it was the field layout, where we wanted to position tents, how we wanted the fans that will come here, what their experience will be, where they’ll park, how they’ll walk into the field," team president Don Smolenski said. "At the stadium, it’s really been keeping an eye on the attendance and sort of being flexible and adjusting as the numbers continue to grow, and put all those pieces together. There’s been a lot of moving parts."
Even though only five practices are open, more fans will (theoretically) be able to see practice than at Lehigh. There's already been 200,000 tickets reserved for the five practices, and almost 49,000 tickets were reserved for the first practice on July 28th.
At Lehigh, the Eagles averaged 6,000 fans per day. They drew around 75,000-115,000 fans annually. So there could be two times the amount of fans this season, if all the fans who reserved tickets show up and attend. (And if practice is not rained out; practices will not be rescheduled if rains and is moved to the NovaCare Complex.)
Of the 300-400 fans on a daily basis, many will be from corporate partners. But there will be around 50 season ticket holders at each practice, and there will be a representative from every section at the stadium throughout training camp. They were selected at random.
There have been fans who've reached out to the Eagles from different parts of the city happy that they can see camp because of public transit. It's more convenient for fans in Philadelphia who don't have cars, although it's less convenient for fans in the Lehigh Valley and some of the far western suburbs.
The practices at the stadium will not like the Flight Night in past seasons, where it's more of a festival than a practice. The practices at the stadium will be actual practices, and almost entirely replicate what's happening at the NovaCare Complex, albeit on fewer fields.
“I think they’ll like the energy,” Smolenski said. “I’m interested to see that myself, because I’ve seen it now through all the OTAs and mini-camp. From the music and enthusiasm to the pace of it, I think that will be intriguing to them in terms of what they see, how quickly it moves and how it moves from session to session.”
Look for more on training camp in Sunday's Inquirer.