The loss of fans at training camp is undoubtedly a big one. It’s not only an opportunity for the team to feel the intensity and energy of the fans, but for the fans themselves, training camp offers a unique experience they can’t get any other time of year: An up-close-and-personal look at the team as they practice, autograph sessions from players and prizes and games for the little ones. Every year, I try to tell fans that if they have an opportunity to see a training camp practice, they should.
Unfortunately, that just isn’t an option this year, with fans being closed out of practices due to the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Detroit Lions are attempting to create a virtual experience that imitates the real thing.
On Monday, the team announced “Lions Training Camp LIVE,” a virtual experience that will include live highlights, analysis, and even an autograph experience for a select number of lucky fans.
The all-new virtual presentation, Lions Training Camp LIVE, is tentatively scheduled to debut August 12 when the team takes the practice field for the first time. The program will include exclusive interviews with players and coaches, guest analysis and live practice footage. Additionally, 200 fans will receive the chance to participate in a virtual meet-and-greet autograph session with a Lions player, courtesy of Rocket Mortgage.
“Detroit Lions training camp will feel different this year without fans being able to attend, but we’re excited to provide Lions fans a new, innovative way to watch and interact with their hometown team safely from the comfort of home,” said Casey Hurbis, Rocket Mortgage CMO.
The Lions and Rocket Mortgage are joining forces with Detroit-based Fangage, Inc. to facilitate the virtual meet-and-greets. Fangage technology allows fans to upload a photo, speak to the player via video chat and watch their photo be autographed live.
As noted in the press release, the virtual experience will debut on Wednesday, August 12, when players are scheduled to have their first “ramp-up period” of practices. Fully-padded practices will begin on August 17.
It’s unclear how often the Lions will offer this online experience, but the official site says stay tuned for updates. For now, this seems like a pretty innovative idea to try and give Lions fans as close to a training camp experience as possible.