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How Eagles' camp move could impact Lehigh University, area

The Philadelphia Eagles announced today that the team is moving its training camp from Lehigh University to South Philadelphia -- a move that will likely lead to significant changes to Lehigh Valley summers.

The university will lose revenue. Area businesses and restaurants, where players and fans ate and shopped, will see fewer customers. Lehigh Valley fans who enjoyed a short trip to see the team are disappointed.

But, Lehigh could also offer new summer programs or attract events it hasn't pursued in the past because of the Eagles.

For this year, though, it appears unlikely that the university will be able to fill that gap.

"The very short-term impact is that we have a hole in programming space and facilities that were rented, and I doubt we'll be able to fill that in the short run," said Joe Sterrett, Lehigh's dean of athletics.

Sterrett said he didn't have an estimate on how much revenue would be lost from the Eagles' move. He said the team has already made some payments toward this summer's camp and the financial hit wouldn't be severe.

"They had fulfilled everything they were supposed to fill," he said.

And in the future, the university will look to replace the Eagles' camp with new events.

Lehigh could now try to attract a sports festival, or an academic convention or conference. But Sterrett acknowledged that whatever comes next, it won't be a full replacement.

"None of them will be as visible for the region or perhaps as fun as having a pro team here," he said.

Local establishments will likely take a hit.

When the Eagles are in town, business increases by 20 to 25 percent, Dave Rank, the owner of three restaurant-bars, told the Allentown Morning Call during the 2011 NFL lockout.

The community then was worried about what would happen if the labor dispute forced camp to be canceled that year. The marketing and public relations director for Bethlehem Brew Works told the newspaper that the business would lose $500 to $600 per day.

And, of course, fans who live near the university will now have a longer trek if they want to attend camp.

"No more Eagles training camp 10 minutes away," Twitter user @CBroyles3 lamented.