The gates to the Bengals' 2002 training camp will open to the public next week, at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 26 at Georgetown (Ky.) College. For the better part of a month -- through Thursday, Aug. 22 -- fans will experience the best time of the year to get a close-up look at stars such as Corey Dillon and Takeo Spikes, and to interact with the players as well.
The atmosphere at camp is relaxed and informal -- aside from the intense work between the white lines -- and training camp is well-known to autograph afficionados as prime time for gaining access to request player signatures.
"We welcome the chance to host our fans in this kind of setting," said Bengals president Mike Brown, who spends most every night at camp and is a regular on the sidelines during practices. "The excitement of the regular season is what everyone anticipates, but I truly believe that fans who are able to make the trip to camp can get a feel for the team that makes the season more enjoyable."
Training camp admission is free, though there is a $5 charge for parking on the Georgetown College grounds ($10 on Aug. 3, Scrimmage Day).
The team will report to camp on Thursday, July 25 for check-in and meetings, but there will be no practice that day and the complex will not be open to the public.
The action on the field will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday the 26th, with a skills workout lasting approximately an hour. The first contact practice of camp, a two-hour session, will begin at 3 p.m......
The above schedule constitutes what coaches term a "regular day" at camp. It is the most common schedule during the camp's run. But it is not in effect every day, and fans planning a trip to camp should first consult the complete schedule, which is available on the home page of bengals.com. Just scroll down the page and look for the box on the lower left with the orange headline, "2002 Training Camp Info." Then click on the line inside the box that says "Full 2002 Camp Schedule."
The on-field action at Bengals camp isn't confined entirely to daylight hours. This year's schedule features four night practices running from 7 until 9 p.m. They'll be held on Aug. 1, 7, 15 and 22. Aug. 7 is a Wednesday, and the other three dates are Thursdays. Following two of the night practices, Aug. 1 and 15, Georgetown College will provide a 20-minute fireworks show.
Camp's biggest day, the annual Intrasquad Scrimmage, will be held this year on Sat., Aug. 3, with action on the field beginning at 1 p.m. The scrimmage features the only fully "live" action of camp, the only exception being no hits on the quarterbacks. It's an important evaluation tool for the coaching staff.
This will be the Bengals' sixth season of training at Georgetown. The training camp facility, officially known as the East Campus Athletic Complex, is one of the finest in use by an NFL team. Athletic Management, a national sports management magazine, recognized the facility by awarding it with its 1998 "Excellence in Outdoor Facilities" award.
"There isn't a team in the NFL that wouldn't like to have its training camp in a facility like this one," Mike Brown said.
Georgetown College is located about a one-hour drive from downtown Cincinnati. To reach the training camp, take Interstate 75 South from downtown approximately 70 miles to Exit 126. Turn right off the ramp and go approximately 2.5 miles to the traffic light at Lemons Mill Rd. (Ky. Route 1962 West). Turn right on Lemons Mill, and after about a half-mile, you will see signs for the training camp complex on your right.