OWINGS MILLS — Cherishing the nostalgia of his youth when he attended the Baltimore Colts’ training camps in Westminster, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti took it hard when the AFC North franchise opted to shift training camp from Carroll County to team headquarters.
The Ravens made that decision during the regular season after team officials, including coach John Harbaugh, general manager Ozzie Newsome and team president Dick Cass, made their recommendation to Bisciotti to no longer have camp in Westminster. And they cited the superior facilities, the collective bargaining agreement eliminating two-a-day practices and the convenience of preparing for the NFL season at their training complex in Owings Mills.
“It’s very, very bittersweet to have to come to the conclusion finally that it is in our best interest from a football perspective to do that here instead of Westminster,” Bisciotti said Wednesday during a press conference.
Reaction to the move ranged from anger to disappointment when it was announced that the Ravens wouldn’t be camping at McDaniel College next summer.
The Ravens have repeatedly said that they plan to conduct an open practice at M&T Bank Stadium, a potential football clinic in Westminster and find other ways to grant access to fans. Due to traffic, parking, insurance, lease and space issues, the Ravens aren’t equipped to have large groups of fans to visit camp in Owings Mills.
“It’s our job to get them comfortable with things that we do,” Bisciotti said. “We talked about getting out there and making some open practices at the stadium and in some other places. I’d like to get one down to Annapolis; it’s my neck of the woods. So, maybe we can talk with Navy and maybe get it down there in the summertime, which would be good. We can get you all down to McGarvey’s and have some fun down there. It’s our job to create that access.”
Bisciotti is aware that times have changed significantly from the days when he would watch Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore and Tom Matte practice for the Colts and be assured of being granted a moment with his childhood heroes.
“It hurts me personally, and yet, the NFL is a different animal than it was when I was a little kid,” Bisciotti said. “We didn’t have fences in Westminster when I was a little kid. We got our pictures and our autographs from these guys by walking with them from the dorm to the practice field and then walking back.
“There might have been 200 kids there, and everybody got their time. I don’t ever remember waiting in line to get my picture done with Raymond Berry. Now, you’ve got 1,000 people out there that are pushing and shoving, and it’s not the kind of environment [it used to be].We’ll take care of the tykes. We’ll figure out a way to get some open practices and get the autographs and get that interaction.”