Projecting fan friendliness of NFC West camps
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
All but one NFC West team has announced its training camp schedule, and we have enough information to project expected winners in overall fan friendliness. I'll rank the four camps based on what we know before revisiting as warranted.
1. Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals head the list even though they are the only NFC West team holding camp somewhere other than their own facility. Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff offers high-desert relief from the scorching Valley temperatures. The team opens every NAU practice to fans, with lots of opportunities for autographs. Bleachers are situated close enough to the fields for clear viewing.
2. Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are for the first time requiring online registration to view practice. Limited on-site parking will force fans to ride shuttles from a mall 2.5 miles away. Those are the negatives. In return, the Seahawks will run a fan-friendly operation with plenty of autograph sessions. Generally moderate temperatures and spectacular views of Lake Washington enhance the experience.
3. St. Louis Rams. The Rams are expected to open most of their practices to fans, but they haven't released a full schedule at this point. It's tougher to rate their camp without knowing for certain how many practices are open, and under what terms. Sweltering heat is a negative, and the Rams' facility lacks natural shade.
4. San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers opened 10 practices to the public last summer. That number has fallen to four this year, ostensibly to facilitate continuing renovations. The 49ers are again requiring online registration for fans to attend. Team president Jed York has shown an eagerness to reach out directly to fans through a town-hall meeting and other efforts. That won't help fans at training camp with only four practices open.