Sports 101

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

NFL training camp is more than just watching players run, huddle, and throw the ball. It's an "experience." Increasingly, NFL clubs are converting their training camps to "NFL theme camps" for fans. Autograph sessions, special scrimmages, and interactive games are now part of the training-camp exhibition. But in some cases, it comes with a price.

The Washington Redskins became the first team in NFL history to charge admission to its preseason practices at Redskins Park in northern Virginia. It costs $10 for fans 12 and over. Most fans are just thrilled to watch their favorite team up close. Monday Night Football debuts next week when the New England Patriots host the San Francisco 49ers.

Q: Why have certain teams relocated their training spots?

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A: To give fans more of a chance to see their team. Three clubs have relocated: the Buffalo Bills (St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y.); New Orleans Saints (Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, La.); and the Washington Redskins (Redskins Park, Ashburn, Va.). Says Saints owner Tom Benson, "I wanted to come back to Louisiana [from the team's Wisconsin training camp] because I felt it was important that we reach out to the fans."

Q: Which team will play in a new stadium this season?

A: The Cincinnati Bengals will play at Paul Brown Stadium. The team's new home will open Aug. 19 with a preseason game against the Chicago Bears. It will be the NFL's tenth new stadium to open since 1992.

Q: How many teams are changing their color scheme?

A: Three teams will sport new uniforms this season.

The New England Patriots are changing their uniforms from royal blue to nautical blue; the New York Giants return with blue jerseys slightly darker than previously, most resembling the jersey color of the 1960s; and the St. Louis Rams will play in Millennium Blue and New Century Gold uniforms. The new look, however, will still feature the Rams' signature horns.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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