Most wounds heal, given 183 days. For many Ravens fans
though, the pain and heartache since they last saw the team on the field in
Foxboro with their chins buried in their chests hasn’t dissipated.
This offseason has provided more salt in the wound as the
team underwent a major setback with Terrell Suggs’ devastating injury, followed
by Ed Reed once again stressing out the fan base with his best Brett Favre
The Ravens’ front office applied a few stitches by signing
Ray Rice and Lardarius Webb to long-term extensions, which were the only real
wins for the team this offseason. Regardless, the bad taste left in the mouths
of fans won’t escape until they can begin to look toward the future. That
future typically began with training camp in Westminster.
A final dose of heartache will come Wednesday as the Ravens
hold their first full team camp practice at the Under Armour Performance Center
instead of at McDaniel College. At that time, it’ll actually set in for fans
that training camp at Westminster is no more.
There is no lockout to blame this time; camp is gone from
Westminster and fans will have limited opportunities to get up close and personal
with their favorite players.
The situation hurts on so many levels.
It hurts those who cannot afford the average ticket price (last
season recorded at $131.41).
It hurts those who have built traditions of their own around
Most of all, this hurts the small town of Westminster and
those businesses that strongly relied on the income provided by the hundreds of
thousands of fans training camp brought in.
As upsetting as it is to see training camp move in-house to
Owings Mills, the Ravens shouldn’t be the ones taking the blame for this.
The newest collective bargaining agreement eliminates
two-a-day padded practices, which gives coaches less time to install their
playbooks, to bring younger players into the fold, and to start executing
before the games matter.
Even if the team was still at McDaniel, because of these
changes there would be cause for more closed practice sessions and a severely
decreased amount of available times fans could watch practice.
The move also wasn’t about money as the team announced a
donation of $100,000 to help complete the Kenneth R. Gill Stadium on the campus
of McDaniel College.
To their credit, the Ravens are doing the best they can to
not only get the most out of camp but also doing damage control to avoid
negative feedback from fans for taking away such a great tradition.
The Ravens have tried to apply band-aids to the situation.
Guaranteeing two open stadium practices and having a lottery for the third
isn’t anything like being in the scorching hot bleachers of Westminster, but
it’ll have to do.
Creating additional events like the Beach Bash is a good gesture
to fans but why would anyone be enticed when Art Jones is your highest profile
player in attendance? (No offense to Art)
Hopefully these options aren’t the final substitute to help
make up for the vacancy of training camp in Westminster but they’re a start.
This is unchartered territory for the Ravens and they’ll learn from this and
improve it from year to year.
Regardless, this shouldn’t be the final substitute for fans
who looked forward to camp in Westminster each year. Let’s just all be happy that
we even have this much because some football is better than no football at all.
Hopefully the benefits of keeping camp in-house far outweigh
the enjoyment almost 10,000 fans per practice had watching their team up-close.
Westminster provided an environment that can’t be reproduced by sitting in the
stands in a stadium and hopefully we’ll have that opportunity again sometime in