Eagles defend having just one open practice

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On our list of teams with open training camp practices, the Eagles are near the bottom, with only one open practice this year. The team says there are valid reasons for that.

Eagles President Don Smolenski said on WIP that the team believes, after seeing how many fans attended last year’s two open practices, that one will suffice.

“What we found was, last year . . . only 2,500 people actually came to both [open practices]. We can do this in one practice and we can schedule the time,” Smolenski said.

It may be true that this year’s one open practice will draw as many fans as last year’s two, but that doesn’t change the fact that while other teams are opening up as many as 20 practices to the public, the Eagles only have one. If you’re an Eagles fan who has to work on that one day, or who has family obligations that can’t be rescheduled, you’re out of luck — you’re not getting to see the Eagles at training camp this year.

Most NFL teams open up at least 10 training camp practices to the fans. Any team that only opens one is going to face justified criticism from the fan base.

30 responses to “Eagles defend having just one open practice

  1. Eagles leadership — “we like our old fan base; we don’t need to develop children into life-long fans like their parents.”

    There is NOTHING like personal engagement to develop fans for life. This move is shortsided and possible because they don’t have a way to measure future fans and season ticket purchases twenty years down the road. Sometimes you do things just with the hope they will pay off one day.

  2. If you’re an Eagles fan who can’t get to their one open practice, then go ahead and get angry at the team’s management. But get angrier at the other Eagles fans who didn’t feel the need to visit the open practices in the past.

  3. Missing a planned vacation with your wife; missing the birth of my child; missing being able to say goodbye to a loved one on their death bed – these are things that I may regret.

    Missing seeing the only open professional football practice because I had higher priorities? Meh. I’m pretty sure I will be able to move on without regret………..

  4. The open practices at the link are a dog and pony show for the fans. They will never get what they got at Lehigh. They should at least bring back flight night. It was good family fun. Got to see a practice. Than the players would interact with the fans throwing T-shirt’s and footballs. Capped off with laser show and fireworks. For $10 bucks. When your charging me as a fan a Fortune for tickets, food and parking. It would be nice if you threw us a bone every now and again.

  5. This is very short sighted. My Dad started taking us to Buffalo Bills training camp in 1965
    at the Camelot Motor Inn. We followed them through the years to Niagara University, Fredonia State and St. John Fischer. It became a family tradition to take a vacation day jam my siblings and I unbuckled into the family station wagon with the genuine imitation wood sides and go to Bills training camp. I followed with my kids, who are now taking their kids.
    I always bought them a mini helmet, jerseys which the players would autograph on their way to and from the locker rooms or to meals. etc. Training Camp was free, but they sold a lot of merchandise and created fans for life. It always made for a great day. The Bills always average between 5000-10000 fans per day at camp. These were the fans that showed up and supported the team when they went through ” the drought ” of not going to the playoffs for 18 years. Hey NFL owners, treat your fans right and they will be there for you. Even in the down years which will come sooner or later.

  6. So you get 1,250 fans at each day of two practices last season and that means you can only have one open practice the next year? Makes no sense at all.

    I know Eagles fans and they love and support their team and there would be at least 1,250 fans at every practice if you opended up 12 to 16 practices to the public like most teams do.

    The obvious swipe at the Eagles fan base by the team President was not only unjustified, it was just plain pathetic.

  7. Only 2,500 fans for practice after recently winning 1st SB. Hmm Eagles fans don’t sound so great again.

  8. I get people being upset about this, but I think the bigger issue is that they’re charging people to come see that one practice. As far as how many they put on the schedule, Reuben Frank (longtime Eagles beat guy) said on a podcast recently that the Eagles’ lease at the NovaCare Complex (where they usually practice) precludes public events. From the team’s perspective, moving practice to the Linc is probably a lot of work getting equipment and whatnot moved, plus the limiting effect of only having one field, and the additional cost of having to properly staff the lower level of the stadium. I’d be curious what the setup is for other teams that do a lot of open practices. As someone already mentioned, back when the Eagles were at Lehigh, just about every early training camp practice was open because it was just logistically easier.

  9. It’s practice and its at Lincoln Financial Field. It’s not the least bit interesting to the majority of fans because you are miles from the field. It was cool when it was at Lehigh and you were almost a part of it. Honestly, nothing to see here…very few fans care.

  10. Eagles fan since 1980.

    Ever since they started being secretive – we started winning and finally got that ring.

    Please, keep being as secretive as possible!

  11. I have not attended a training camp practice since they stopped having it at Lehigh University. I know people from the city didn’t like training camp in the Lehigh Valley, but it was an awesome experience especially with your kids. The players were standing 20 feet away and you could interact with them when they weren’t on the field. It was always more of a personable visit rather than having at the stadium. Having it at the stadium is no different than going to watch them play a game. I’ll never forget a fan who yelled out to McNabb while he was on the sideline “hey Donovan, I’ll trade you my wife for your jersey”. McNabb turned his head around, chuckled, and turned his head back towards the field and shaking it laughing. You don’t get that experience at the stadium. Players coming over after practice to sign, getting your pictures taken with them, your son or daughter carrying a players equipment into the field house after practice. That is what the fans are missing. I thought once the chip Kelly era was over and Doug took over he would move camp back to the LV, that is where he went to camp when he was with the birds. But I guess not.

  12. @beagles20

    With as little as the NFL / NFLPA lets them practice now, it makes no sense dragging the whole operation to Lehigh. You’d have players with far too much time on their hands to get into nothing but trouble up there and fans not willing to make the drive for a short session.

  13. Having just one practice inside Lincoln Finacial Field is fine. Charge 10 bucks for that and do whatver you want. Many teams do the having one night practice at the stadium thing.

    Open training camp practices are at the teams regular training camp facility and the Eagles have one that can be made open to the public just like every other team does. Someone said the Eagles training complex precludes public events. That’s hogwash. They could line the practice field with 4 rows of bleachers on one side and open practices to fans. It’s not some huge deal to open practice.

  14. It’s all live streamed anyway, right? Why pay money to stand out in the heat? Based on last year, it’s clearly not a high-demand event.

  15. In reality, the question should be why aren’t they even showing up to that 1 or 2 practices. The fans are probably asking themselves why they should even bother, since they are only opening up 1 or 2 practices, so I don’t have much of an option. I’m sure those 2500 fans only showed up because they happened to have the chance those days. Maybe 10000 more would have shown up if they had multiple days and could pick and choose which ones they wanted to go to.

  16. What an odd situation. It’s clear the Eagles don’t want
    their fans at their practices, the question is why?

  17. freefromwhatyouare says:

    July 23, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Having just one practice inside Lincoln Finacial Field is fine. Charge 10 bucks for that and do whatver you want. Many teams do the having one night practice at the stadium thing.

    Open training camp practices are at the teams regular training camp facility and the Eagles have one that can be made open to the public just like every other team does. Someone said the Eagles training complex precludes public events. That’s hogwash. They could line the practice field with 4 rows of bleachers on one side and open practices to fans. It’s not some huge deal to open practice.

    The physical facility may not preclude public events, but that’s not what was said. The Eagles actual agreement with NovaCare does not allow for public events. The Eagles are technically a tenant there and have a lease.

  18. People saying that only 2500 people showed up for practice are misunderstanding the quote. The Eagles are saying that a lot of people came to each practice, but only 2500 people came to the first one, and then came back to the second one. The two practices were very well attended, they “sold” 120,000 tickets for the 2 combined dates.

    They think that means that they’re only disappointing the 2500 people who want to come more than once. I’m no expert, but maybe instead, they should be looking for ways to increase the amount of fan interaction instead of limiting it. So far, they have sold only 23,000 for the single 2019 date, so obviously that date doesn’t work for a lot of people.

  19. NovCare Complex is the location of Eagles indoor and outdoor practice facilities. The indoor I get can not be made public.

    There is no where that says they can’t open outdoor practices during training camp. The facility can be made public during select practices. I don’t care what some clown reporter said on a Podcast.

  20. Some teams go to significant lengths to give their fans a fun training camp practice experience, setting up stuff other than a couple bleachers to watch walk-throughs. Some fans can’t afford to go to games, and at training camps kids have a better chance to actually interact with their favorite players. This all builds loyalty and creates new fans. Teams that limit practice access are simply short-sighted. It’s not like they are hiding state secrets or anything.

  21. I don’t know what on earth the big deal is about this.

    As someone who has visited training camps By the Eagles, Packers, Steelers, and Falcons since the 80sx I can say unequivocally that the practices themselves are boring.m unless your interest level is exceptionally high.

    As for the community outreach angle, the Eagles do more community outreach than most franchises. Anyone equating charging the public to watch training camp practices with community outreach doesn’t understand what community out reach is…at all.

    And no, it is not that easy to open the NovaCare complex to spectators. It’s not built for it. Nor is it that easy to move the entire squad to Lincoln financial Field for prep practices.

    This is a tempest in a teapot.

  22. freefromwhatyouare, I wasn’t aware that the lease only covers the physical building and not the entire property. My bad for relying on trusted information. Never would have thought the outdoor field at the NovaCare Complex isn’t part of the NovaCare Complex.

  23. I would have love to have seen the practice sessions (Bummer), been watching since the days at Widener, BUT, it’s a team decision, so hey Eagles-just put a great product on the field when it counts.

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