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Lehigh Valley #6 story of 2013: Philadelphia Eagles leave Lehigh University in Bethlehem

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 27 2013 04:12:21 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 27 2013 05:32:37 PM CST

2013 dealt a tough blow to Lehigh Valley sports fans.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

2013 dealt a tough blow to Lehigh Valley sports fans.

The beloved Eagles flew the coop, choosing to stay in Philadelphia instead of training at Lehigh University in Bethlehem.

69 News viewers voted it number six on the list of the top local stories of the year.

For 17 years, if you were an Eagles fan and you lived in the Lehigh Valley, chances were you would flock to Lehigh University to watch your beloved birds at spring training camp.

The year started with a new coach, and then followed with some disheartening news.

The Eagles announced they would no longer hold spring training at Lehigh. The team said having close access to medical and athletic facilities at the Novacare complex in Philadelphia was the reason for the move.

Even so, it broke the heart of local fans.

"I'm sorry to see them leave, and we'll miss them," said fan Chip Walakovitz.

"Well, it was a great run. It was a fabulous event every year to come up and visit with the Eagles and see what was going on," said fan Bill Rambo.

The yearly migration of fans to watch their favorite players was also a loss for the local economy.

"This is not a good thing for the valley. Losing Eagles training camp is very disappointing," said Michael Stershic, with Discover Lehigh Valley.

Local business leaders knew it meant the estimated 3,500 training camp fans would no longer provide an added revenue bump each summer. Local restaurants were unhappy with the news.

"Business, especially now, isn't easy, so we're definitely concerned, but it's not our decision to make.," said Matt Weaver, manager at Starters Pub.

But like true Eagles fans, Lehigh Valley residents took the change in stride.

The team may have flown the coop, but fans' loyalty to their team remains as strong as ever.

"I want to see them win a Superbowl, so I really don't care where they practice," said fan Michael Fischer.