The Philadelphia Eagles will hold their training camp at Lehigh University for at least another year.
The team and the school announced Tuesday that they have signed a contract that will keep the camp at the Bethlehem, Pa., university through the summer of 2013.
The Eagles have been staging training camp at Lehigh since 1996 after a 16-year stint at West Chester University.
“Lehigh University has been an incredible partner of ours, and we couldn’t be more excited about returning for an 18th training camp in 2013,” new Eagles president Don Smolenski said in a statement.
“They provide us with first-class accommodations year in and year out — not only for the players, coaches and staff but also for the thousands of fans who attend practices every day.
“We have a great relationship with Lehigh as evidenced by the communication we had through the lockout last season, which allowed us to hit the ground running once football activities resumed.
“We’re looking forward to another successful summer at Lehigh.”
The large crowds — practices routinely draw as many as 5,000 fans to the fields at Lehigh, where parking and admission is free — is one of the reasons the Eagles have resisted the urge to join a growing number of NFL teams that hold their training camp at their permanent practice facilities. Eighteen of the 32 franchises will do so this summer.
The Eagles would not be able to accomodate spectators at the NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field is usually booked for other events such as concerts and soccer.
Other than their two home preseason games, the Eagles’ only appearance at the Linc before the season will be their annual Flight Night practice/carnival on Aug. 26.
This year’s training camp at Lehigh begins July 22 when rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans are scheduled to report, followed by the rest of the team July 25.
The first full practice will be held July 27.
Unlike past camps, the major practices this summer will be held in the afternoon at 2:45 p.m. instead of 8:15 a.m. The autograph sessions will be held after the afternoon practice at approximately 5 p.m.
“We are pleased to once again partner with the Eagles to provide the Lehigh Valley and NFL fans with one of the league’s most intimate and exciting training camp experiences,” Joe Sterrett, Lehigh’s dean of Athletics, said in a statement.
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