The days of Eagles fans being able to watch the team practice for free are over.
In addition, this is the first year the Eagles will force fans to pay to attend the open practice, charging $10 per ticket (plus a Ticketmaster fee of $1.22), with the proceeds going toward the Eagles Autism Challenge. According to ESPN, the Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks are now the only teams in the NFL to not hold any free practices.
The announcement drew mixed reactions across the Delaware Valley. While some fans said they didn’t have an issue with the decision, others criticized the move to limit the number of open practices.
Longtime season ticket holder Eric Emanuele, known online as “The Mighty Erock,” was among those who took to Twitter to bash the team for pulling back access.
“The money’s not my issue. For a fan base who can’t get enough of their team to have such limited access to it is a shame,” Emanuele wrote on Twitter.
Here were some reactions from other longtime Eagles fans:
Eagles beat writers Zach Berman and Les Bowen also offered their thoughts on the Eagles’ decision:
As you might expect, the move drew a strong reaction from hosts at 97.5 The Fanatic, with most calling out the Eagles over the one-two punch of pulling back access and charging fans.
“I just can’t get that mentality of taking something that’s been a fabric and DNA of the fan base for... a long time, and just taking that away,” 97.5 The Fanatic host and producer Jamie Lynch said on the morning show. “To me, as a fan, I feel like I got spit in the face, honestly. And I’m not trying to be overly dramatic.”
Lynch, who grew up taking family trips to watch the Eagles practice at Lehigh University, said what made him most upset was that camp was the only direct interaction many fans had all year with players and coaches, especially as ticket prices have increased.
“The fringe fan really gets hurt here,” Lynch said. “I get the charity aspect, but to me, that’s a cheap way to get around the outrage.”
Lynch wasn’t the only member of The Fanatic’s morning show to criticize the Eagles’ decision. Host Mark Farzetta called it a “bad move," while co-host and former Daily News reporter Bob Cooney suggested keeping the practice free, and asking fans for donations instead.
“I think the whole idea is terrible. It’s so sneaky for an organization to say, ‘Well, we’re going to charge, but it’s going for charity,' " said Mike Missanelli, the Fanatic’s afternoon host. “I don’t get it. I hate it. It’s not fan friendly. And it’s like bullyish, frankly, for a team that won the Super Bowl."
Over on 94.1 WIP, which airs Eagles games throughout the season, there was hardly any talk at all about the decision, much less any criticism. In fact, morning show host Angelo Cataldi cheerfully promoted the event during the last hour of his show.
WIP’s program director Spike Eskin defended the decision to charge for the open practice, pointing out that 100 percent of the proceeds (minus Ticketmaster’s fee) goes to the Eagles Autism Challenge.
Tickets for the open practice went on sale Tuesday morning, and were still available on Ticketmaster as of Tuesday afternoon. Last season, more than 40,000 fans piled into the Linc to watch the team’s first open practice, which was free but required a ticket.
Players report to training camp July 24. The first full-team practice will take place July 25, at the NovaCare Complex, and the camp will run through Aug. 13.