The Bengals open training camp in 10 days. It's not just the start of a new season for the Bengals. With new head coach Zac Taylor, it's also the dawn of a new era.
Taylor's first training camp practice at Welcome Stadium on Saturday, July 27 will take place in the same city the first NFL game was played 100 seasons ago.
The tie-in to Dayton is part of the NFL 100 campaign which celebrates 100 seasons of the NFL. When the Dayton Triangles hosted the Columbus Panhandles at Triangle Park in Dayton, it was the first game of the American Professional Football Association, which would change its name to the National Football League a couple of years later.
"There have always been great Bengals fans in the Dayton area," Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said earlier this summer. "The Bengals are excited to get back to Dayton for a special practice opening the Zac Taylor era, kicking off the 2019 season and recognizing the history of the NFL and the first game played in Dayton at Triangle Park."
Many familiar the Dayton-area understand that it is a part of the country that has a long lasting love affair with its sports teams and heroes. The area has cultivated top football talent as well over the years. Former Bengals LB A.J. Hawk, DT Dan Wilkinson and K Mike Nugent are Dayton natives. Other notable NFL players from the region over the years include RB Keith Byars, DE Marco Coleman and C Nick Mangold.
For a metro area of around 800,000 often overshadowed by nearby Columbus and Cincinnati, sports in Dayton carry significant importance and a sense of pride.
The Dayton Dragons, the Cincinnati Reds Single-A affiliate, continues a record-breaking run of consecutive sellout games. At the start of the team's 20th season, the Dragons have sold out each and every one of their 1,316 home games, which is easily a record for a U.S. pro team.
Flip over to the hardwood where Dayton is the only city to host play-in games since the NCAA introduced the concept in 2001. In 2011, the NCAA tournament expanded again, to 68 teams, creating the First Four being held in Dayton. Part of the reason is fan support where University of Dayton basketball has attracted keen crowds since the 1950s, and the school perennially ranks in the top 30 in the nation in average home attendance.
That's not even including youth sports where Dayton annually hosts the adidas Warrior Soccer Classic Tournament. This prestigious youth soccer tournament, one of the largest in the country, typically takes place over Memorial Day weekend and brings in roughly 25,000 soccer players, coaches, referees, family members and spectators to Dayton.
The Bengals have practiced in the Dayton area multiple times previously, most recently in 2016 when they held a training camp practice in West Carrollton.
Admission to the practice at Welcome Stadium will be free with doors to open at 1:30 p.m., roughly 30 minutes before players and coaches will start taking the field.
Practice will begin at 2:30 p.m. and last about an hour, at which time there will be an autograph session.
Parking is available around the stadium for $5, and the concession stands will be open, with Bengals merchandise and tickets also available for purchase.
SATURDAY, JULY 27 (Welcome Stadium, Dayton)
- Gates open at 1:30 p.m.
- Practice begins at 2:30 p.m.
- Autograph session begins at 3:30 p.m.