Sunday’s practice at Paul Brown Stadium marked the conclusion of the Cincinnati Bengals’ first training camp held downtown at their own facilities.
More than 2,000 fans attended the evening session that began just as the Reds were wrapping up a 5-4 win against the Cubs next door at Great American Ball Park.
The total attendance for the 16 practices was 29,360, well above the 5,320 who attended 14 practices at training camp in Georgetown, Ky.
“From my standpoint, it’s gone excellently,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “I think everybody upstairs feels very, very good about it. Hopefully the fans and everyone else that have experienced it feel just as good about it.”
The Bengals held training camp at Wilmington College from 1967-1996, and at Georgetown College from 1997-2011 before opting to stay home this summer.
“There were four or five months of planning that went into the logistics of all of this,” said Bob Bedinghaus, the Bengals director of business development. “For those of us who are involved in the planning behind the scenes, the neatest thing is we pulled it off without any real problems.”
Bedinghaus said the biggest concern was that too many people would show up for the practices on the fields across the street from PBS, where attendance was limited to 1,600. But they were at or near capacity only three times.
Attendance was unlimited at the practices inside PBS, most of which were coordinated with Reds games to offer fans a chance to attend both.
“The thing with the Reds worked out OK,” Bedinghaus said. “I think the timing was a little off. It was a great PR push for the Reds and for us, the idea of a doubleheader. But some of the games were so separated in time.
“Are you really going to come down here and spend a couple of hours in the sun and then wait an hour and a half or two hours to then go over to a Reds game for three hours? (Next year) we might try to condense them closer together, the starting times.”
While the attendance numbers were far greater than 2011, last year’s NFL lockout had a lot to do with that. In 2010, the Bengals drew 29,448 to Georgetown.
One of the changes Bedinghaus said the team is considering for 2013 is to open the pep rally on the eve of training camp to non-season ticket holders.
Bedinghaus also said the team is considering holding a practice in Dayton next year. In 2010, the Bengals drew 13,000 for a practice at Welcome Stadium.
Injury update: Rookie linebacker Vontaze Burfict returned to practice Sunday after suffering a concussion in Thursday night’s 24-19 win at Atlanta.
Meanwhile, tight end Jermaine Gresham missed Sunday’s practice after hurting his right knee Thursday in Atlanta, although Lewis said the injury doesn’t appear serious.
“He just has kind of a sprain of the knee,” Lewis said. “He’s got a little twist, so we’ve just got to let him get all of the strength back before we bring him out here to play football again.”