The Philadelphia Eagles have announced that the team will not be returning to Lehigh University for its preseason training camp, putting on hold a 17-year relationship that started in 1996.
The new training camp sessions will take place in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field, along with invitation-only practices at the NovaCare Complex, with a schedule to be released later in the spring.
Quoting a statement on the Eagles' website, the team has become the 21st NFL team to move practices to its own facilities as the demands of practice make it more difficult to replicate what the teams have at their practice facilities.
"There are so many people at Lehigh University who went above and beyond to accommodate us and to make training camp a special place for fans to travel each summer to get an up-close look at the team," said team president Don Smolenski. "The city of Bethlehem has been part of our lives every summer for the past 17 years."
Efficient access to all the facilities at the nearby NovaCare Complex has become a necessity for the team. Equipped with everything from a hydrotherapy pool to an MRI machine, weight rooms with state-of-the-art equipment, an indoor practice venue and video and computer equipment that utilizes network infrastructure have become imperative to the team's practice sessions.
This will be the first time that the Eagles training camp has been in Philadelphia since 1943 when practice was held at St. Joseph's University. "The Eagles and Lehigh University recognize that their long standing relationship is changing, but not ending," said Smolenski. Both parties have expressed a desire to explore community programs in the future.
The economic impact the Eagles' departure will have on the Greater Lehigh Valley is unpredictable.