Camping out through '06

6:15 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The extension is for just one year and the contract is just two pages long, but Georgetown College remains confident it can retain the Bengals training camp beyond 2006.

"I couldn't tell you in five or 10 years where we're going to be and the Bengals probably can't either," said Todd Gambill, Georgetown's dean of student life. "But we continue to be excited about our association with them and are looking forward to a long relationship into the future."

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis announced the one-year extension Tuesday at a luncheon sponsored by the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce at the college's East Campus Athletic Complex, the site where the Bengals have trained since 1997.

"We're pleased to have extended this relationship for another year," Lewis said in a statement. "The facilities at Georgetown College are excellent for our purposes. They were designed with an NFL training camp in mind, and they remain state-of-the-art by league standards."

The plan is for Rawlings Stadium to have a synthetic field by the 2006 camp like the one the Bengals have in Paul Brown Stadium. Although the Bengals aren't directly helping the funding of the project, Gambill said the money that is saved on field maintenance at the camp could be used in other areas. Plus, Georgetown's association with the Bengals makes them attractive to vendors.

School and club officials are pleased with the short term of the deal for "flexibility" reasons. While the Bengals ponder the pros and cons of doing what about half of the NFL teams do now - hold camp at home - Georgetown also stays free of a commitment.

But the agreement, solidified with the relationship of Bengals president Mike Brown and Georgetown president Bill Crouch, continues to be warm. Even though the school lost five dates last year because of the Bengals' sojourn to Tampa Bay for their preseason opener in the middle of Hurricane Charley and Lewis deciding to lop off the last week of camp this year and head home Aug. 17.

Still, Gambill thinks the Bengals can break last year's attendance record of an estimated 40-50,000.

"Coach Lewis is such a class act and with the team playing well and all the excitement around it, we think that is certainly a possibility," Gambill said. "I know we're very excited about this camp because of the enthusiasm of the fans."

Gambill also thinks the addition of four night practices (July 29, Aug. 1, Aug. 8, Aug. 15) to go along with the traditional Wednesday night workouts (Aug. 3 and 10) and the Friday night intrasquad scrimmage (Aug. 5) is going to go a long way in coming up with comparable numbers. Lewis told the luncheon he went with more practices at night because he thinks it's more efficient to get in two meals and meetings after a morning practice.

The autograph sessions are still intact after the Wednesday night practices, as well as following the intrasquad scrimmage and the Mock Game. A fireworks display is planned for Aug. 10.

Since Lewis arrived in 2003, the second weekend of camp has been a huge draw with the Aug. 5 Friday night full contact intrasquad scrimmage followed by Saturday afternoon's Mock Game on Aug. 6 played in helmets and shoulder pads. Last year both events drew a combined estimated crowd of 19,000.

Admission to any training camp day is free, with $10 parking for cars and $25 for busses.

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