For the first time since the team came into existence in 1996, the Baltimore Ravens will not be holding training camp at McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) College.
Here is the statement from the team:
Because of the uncertainty as to when the NFL lockout will end, the Baltimore Ravens will move their 2011 training camp from McDaniel College to their year-round facility in Owings Mills.
Last summer, over 110,000 fans attended the open practice sessions at McDaniel, the Ravens’ training camp home since the franchise started in 1996.
“We’re disappointed we won’t be back at McDaniel and in Westminster this summer. We delayed the decision as long as we could,” Bob Eller, the Ravens’ vice president of operations, said. “There are logistics that needed to be addressed now, including McDaniel’s schedule, the hotel, the fields and other Ravens football functions. Right now, we don’t know dates for camp, and we’ve been forced to make other plans.
“One of the main issues we have is the time it takes to move our entire football operation to Westminster and then bring it back to Owings Mills. Those are days we can’t afford to lose as our team prepares for the season in what has become a condensed time period,” Eller explained.
The Ravens have spent all 15 of their training camps in Westminster. “We’ll miss being there, working with the college and the Best Western hotel. They have been very patient with us through this process,” Eller added. “We’ll also miss the interaction with the fans, which is a huge part of our camp experience.”
“We’ve appreciated the Ravens keeping us in the loop through this process,” Ethan Seidel, McDaniel College’s vice president of administration and finance, said. “We’ve had ongoing discussions internally and with the Ravens, knowing that the closer we got to a regular training camp start date, the less likely it would be logistically feasible to pull it off this year. We’re certainly not surprised by this and have been prepared for this scenario. When the NFL has its new agreement, we look forward to speaking with the Ravens about continuing our partnership with them.”
The Ravens’ lease agreement with Baltimore County does not allow for fans to attend practices in Owings Mills. “We don’t have the parking space for the fans, and the roads could not safely handle the type of crowds we attract,” team president Dick Cass explained.
Cass noted that the team has already begun discussions with McDaniel College to return to Westminster for future Ravens training camps. “We hope to have a full NFL season in 2011, but the current timing compelled us to make this decision. We waited as long as we could, but we’re beyond the dates when we could efficiently prepare for the move to McDaniel for a normal training camp start. We do fully anticipate, however, to be back at McDaniel next summer,” Cass said.
Once a new collective bargaining agreement between the franchises and the players is reached, the Ravens will announce practice schedules. “We will make every effort to have one or more practices at M&T Bank Stadium once we can determine our camp schedule. And, these sessions at M&T will be free and open to the general public,” Cass added.
This is very disappointing to the tens of thousands of Ravens fans who annually make the trip out west to watch the team practice during the sweltering summer months. With the Orioles – though improved – again languishing in last place in the American League East, it’s even more depressing to not have the sessions at McDaniel to look forward to, as they had become a welcome annual distraction from the mediocrity of the local baseball team.
The fact that the team will hold the majority of their “training camp” at the facility in Owings Mills, with just one or two dates at M&T Bank Stadium that will be open to the public, is a huge kick in the proverbial groin to the football-loving hordes around here. Throw in the financial impact to McDaniel College and the entire city of Westminster, and this whole scenario is just very, very bad.
Let’s hope this lockout comes to an end real soon here, so depressing bad-news posts like this don’t become a regular thing.