The Seattle Seahawks will return to Cheney for training camp this summer and might bring a preseason game to Albi Stadium in Spokane.
The Seahawks have reached a three-year agreement to train at Eastern Washington University.
“We are pleased to be able to continue the relationship we started last year with Eastern Washington University and our fans in the Spokane area,” said Bob Whitsitt, club president.
“We want to thank everyone involved in making this possible, especially state Sen. Jim West (R-Spokane), who was very instrumental in our going back to Eastern Washington,” Whitsitt said Thursday.
The Seahawks trained in front of record crowds at EWU last summer. They practiced at their Kirkland headquarters from 1986-96. The franchise had camped in Cheney for its first 10 seasons from 1976-85.
The National Football League wants the Seahawks to play a preseason game in Vancouver, British Columbia. If that occurs, Seattle would be required to play five preseason games, including one on Saturday, Aug. 1. But Seattle’s Kingdome will be occupied by the Mariners that day.
So the Seahawks might schedule the San Francisco 49ers at Albi on Aug. 1. First, however, scheduling complications must be resolved with the 49ers and NFL.
“We’re still hopeful,” a Seahawks official said.
Seattle lost a preseason game to the Chicago Bears, 27-16, before 14,484 fans at Albi Stadium in 1976, the Seahawks’ first season.
Players tentatively are scheduled to report for training camp July 18. The first practice will be July 20. Camp will end Aug. 18.
The Seahawks paid EWU between $300,000 and $400,000 last year. No figures were released on the value of the new agreement.
Cheney’s relative isolation from distractions helped players concentrate on football, and the summer heat assisted with conditioning, Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson said.
“We are excited about returning,” said the fourth-year coach, whose club was 8-8 last season. “Eastern Washington has everything you could possibly need, including great facilities, great fans and good weather.”
Practices, like last year, will be free and open to the public.
Many of last year’s attractions - the NFL Experience, post-practice kids’ camps and novelty booths - also will return. The NFL Experience, which featured a football toss, a field-goal kick, a picture area and a bungee-cord goal-line run, will be expanded.
Players and coaches often signed autographs for fans after practices.