Fans react to Eagles moving training camp from Lehigh to NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field

DeSean Jackson shakes a fan's hand as the Eagles walk along the fence and thank supporters on the last day of training camp at Lehigh. Preseason practices will resume Thursday at the NovaCare Complex.
DeSean Jackson shakes a fan's hand as the Eagles walk along the fence and thank supporters on the last day of training camp at Lehigh. Preseason practices will resume Thursday at the NovaCare Complex. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 16, 2013

Fans have long spoken fondly of their annual pilgrimages to Lehigh University for Eagles training camp.

Yet a fair share of them were expressing support today for the team's decision to hold its summer workouts in South Philadelphia, with some practice sessions open to fans at Lincoln Financial Field.

"I think it's great, just because the fact that they're going to be in the city now," said Bill on a cell to 94 WIP midday hosts Ike Reese and Michael Barkann. "... I've never been a training camp. I'd love to see it."

"Better for the fans, especially in the light of high gas prices," commented "criminal justice prof" on the news story by the Inquirer's Jeff McLane.

"This is a NO-BRAINER," commented jdriches4747. "... The LINC and Nova Care Complex all have state-of-the art facilities and equipment who cares about Lehigh, except if you live nearby."

Another guy lamented making the long, "boring" trek once, only to have practice canceled because of a flood. Now he's a five-minute walk away.

Then again, "chescoguy" wrote: "Wonder how much they will charge for parking at the 'free' workouts? Another sports tradition eliminated by big business."

A WIP caller named John wondered if new head coach Chip Kelly was behind the change. The offensive innovator hired Shaun Huls, who trained Navy Seals, to be "sports science coordinator," and Kelly is known for conducting full-speed practices. So maybe Kelly wants the best possible facilities at hand for working out and recuperating.

"Recovery time could be a lot better," said John.

"I'm not sure this is Chip Kelly's idea," said Reese, a former Eagles linebacker. "It would be weird to have a new coach come in and get rid of a relationship you have."

"You never know," said Barkann, who spoke about the beautiful setting at Lehigh where frequent practices let fans get close to players.

He recalled how packed the place was the summer of 2004 after the Eagles signed standout wideout Terrell Owens.

But it hasn't been that crowded in recent years, Reese said.

"There are folks who will be disappointed they don't be able to see them on a regular basis," Barkann said.

"You can't please everybody," said Reese.

Indeed, Chase on a cell, who lives five minutes from the university, worried about the effect on the area's economy and recalled how "awesome" it was to see players in restaurants and bars.

That reminded Barkann of the time defensive lineman Mike Mamula was accused of exposing himself at a bar.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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