Sports Tonight: Size matters in fan experience

Eagles fans cheer during a game, but the team’s fan experience didn’t get high marks.

To be fair to the Eagles, there is only so much they can do to enhance the fan experience at their games.

A study released by J.D. Power on Wednesday ranked the Birds last in fan experience among the five major franchises in Philadelphia.

The Union of Major League Soccer were first.

In the 12 major markets surveyed, NFL teams finished last in each. NFL games are not conducive to many of the attributes that went into the study. The most prominent detriment is the sheer size of an NFL crowd. The smallest permanent stadium in the NFL is Soldier Field in Chicago, with a capacity of 61,000.

Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles will play the Buffalo Bills in a preseason game at 7 tonight (TV: NBC 10; radio: 94 WIP) has a capacity of 69,144, almost 26,000 more than Citizens Bank Park. The Flyers and Sixers share the Wells Fargo Center, which seats slightly more than 20,000. The Union’s home, Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, has a capacity of 18,500.

Logic dictates that it is a lot easier to satisfy 18,500 folks in things like seating sight lines, stadium security, traffic flow and concessions than it is to make 69,000 fans happy.

Besides, with no title in 56 seasons, the only experience that will please Eagles fans is a championship parade.

Camera icon TNS
Grilled rib-eye steak with onion straws. 

Here’s the beef, but where’s the cognac?

The offensive line of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played a pretty good prank on undrafted rookie free agents Cole Gardner and Korren Kirven.

At the Bucs’ annual rookie dinner Wednesday, the rookies followed the tradition of picking up the tab for their units. Gardner and Kirven, who each will earn the minimum $465,000 if they make the final roster, are the Bucs’ only rookie offensive linemen, so they had to split the bill of the other 15.

They were handed a bill that totaled $26,357.31 before the tip. It included 50 shots of Louis XIII cognac at $200 each, plus other alcohol that totaled $20,000.

Kirven posted a video of the bill with the saying ‘Rest in Peace.”

On Thursday morning, Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith revealed that the bill was fake, that offensive linemen had the restaurant print out a bill with the alcohol to trick the rookies.

Still, the 34 high-end steaks that were ordered added up to $1,666, and those were real.

What I’m reading

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren isn’t predicting a Stanley Cup, but staff writer Sam Carchidi says Holmgren likes the position the Orange and Black are in.

Fans might not put a lot of stock in preseason games, but roster spots can be determined by how players perform. Staff writer Les Bowen tells you what to watch for in the Eagles’ preseason game against Buffalo.

Pocono Raceway offers some of the fastest speeds on the IndyCar circuit. Staff writer Jake Lourim sets up the ABC Supply 500 on Sunday at the Long Pond track.

Sean McDermott was a longtime Eagles assistant coach and eventually was unceremoniously disposed of as defensive coordinator. Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News writes that McDermott’s return to Philly tonight as head coach of the Bills is just another game to him.

At ESPN, Nick DePaula introduces us to Chinese Basketball Association All-Star Guo Aulin, who just became the first Chinese signature star for Jordan Brand.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch tells ESPN that players’ protesting during the national anthem could hurt the NFL’s ability to bring people together.

Camera icon tns
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on the sidelines at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on March 17, 2016.

The riff

In the era of “one-and-done” college basketball, Kentucky coach John Calipari is the crowned king. He’s been criticized often for embracing the phenomenon. He is considered a rogue and thus an easy target.

The coach who has received little criticism despite grabbing one-and-done prospects almost as frequently as Calipari is sainted Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Recently, Krzyzewski has recruited predicted one-and-done players as hard as anyone.

On Tuesday, Coach K received an oral commitment from top recruit Marvin Bagley III. Bagley may not yet sign a letter of commitment because his request to skip his senior year of high school and reclassify for the freshman class of 2017-18 has not been approved by the NCAA.

Bagley III has all the earmarks of a player making a one-season pit stop in college basketball before entering the NBA draft.

That’s nothing new at Duke.

Since 2011, Duke has had 10 freshmen leave school for NBA drafts. Kentucky has had 17.

If Bagley gets reclassified, four players in Duke’s freshman class would be projected as first-round picks in 2018.

Tonight’s schedule

TV/Radio

Baseball
Braves at Rockies (joined in progress), 5 p.m. (MLB Network)
Yankees at Mets, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
Phillies at Giants, 10 p.m. (CSN; WPHT-AM 1210)

NFL Preseason
Bills at Eagles, 7 p.m. (NBC10; WIP-FM 94.1)
Buccaneers at Jaguars, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Golf
U.S. Amateur Championship, 6 p.m. (FS1)

Tennis
ATP: Western and Southern Open, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
WTA: Western and Southern Open, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)

Little League Baseball
World Series: White Rock, British Columbia vs. Emilia, Italy, 5 p.m. (ESPN); Lufkin, Texas vs. Grosse Pointe, Mich., 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Local Events

NFL Preseason
Eagles vs. Bills, 7:05 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field

Minor League Baseball
Reading vs. Bowie, 7:05 p.m., FirstEnergy Stadium, Reading
Trenton vs. Akron, 7:05 p.m., Waterfront Park, Trenton
Lakewood vs. Kannapolis, 7:05 p.m., FirstEnergy Park, Lakewood, N.J.
Wilmington vs. Frederick, 6:35 p.m., Frawley Stadium, Wilmington