While the NFL owners and players continue to work on a labor agreement, Georgetown College was preparing as if the football season will go on as scheduled.
Developments Thursday indicated an agreement could be reached soon that would allow the Cincinnati Bengals to hold its training camp at Georgetown College, just as the team has for the past 15 years. The camp is an important money-maker for the college, and the owners' lockout of the players has put that in jeopardy.
"We have prepared all along as if we're having camp," said Stacey Varner, training camp director for Georgetown College. "Facilities-wise, we're prepared for it to come. The fields are ready. The weight rooms are ready. The apartments are all ready.
"What we're waiting on is for the collective bargaining agreement to be settled. But we're ready for the Bengals."
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If the Bengals decide not to hold camp at Georgetown College, Bengals public relations director Jack Brennan said it would be at the team's practice facility in Cincinnati.
Georgetown College representative Todd Gambill, the main liaison between the college and the Bengals during training camp discussions, said there was every reason to be optimistic the team would end up at the college.
"It looks like camp could open as scheduled," Gambill said.
He said the original start date was to be July 29. Once an NFL agreement is reached, Gambill said, it would be up to the Bengals to decide when to head to Georgetown.
Teams are allowed to begin preseason camp no sooner than 15 days before their first preseason games. The Bengals' first preseason game is Aug. 12, so its training camp could begin July 28.
Still, everything is contingent on whether an agreement is reached, and when. Players have until Tuesday to vote on a deal approved by the owners Thursday.
The Bengals could start shipping equipment to the college as soon as Friday, Gambill said.
The absence of the Bengals, or even a delay in their arrival, could have significant financial implications for the school.
Varney estimated that Georgetown College makes nearly $100,000 a year during training camp from parking. She said it's something the college and the community have come to count on each year.
"I don't know how you couldn't. They've been coming here for 15 years" Varney said. "But knowing the lockout was going to happen, we did our budget without factoring in training camp. We knew we'd make just north of $100,000 from it, so we cut that from our budget."
Gambill would not say how much the Bengals pay Georgetown College for use of the facilities, but he said the team has guaranteed the school part of the amount.
Brennan said uncertainty about this year's training camp is a special case and is not changing the team's relationship with the college.
"It's all a timing and logistics thing," he said "We'd be going there if there wasn't a lockout. It just depends on when a deal gets done. Our relationship with Georgetown has been great. Our owner and coaches have consistently said they like going down there."
Gambill said he and Bengals business manager Bill Connelly talk daily and would continue to do so during the weekend, but Brennan said that until a deal is official, it's a wait-and-see situation.
"Obviously we'd like to go back to Georgetown," Brennan said. "A decision will be made when it can be made or when it has to be made."