The Baltimore Ravens will continue to hold training camp at their Owings Mills training facility. For the first 15 years in the franchise’s history, camp was held in Westminster, Md. at McDaniel College. The Ravens’ 2011 training camp was held in Owings Mills.
“We’ve had long, serious discussions about this decision, and, when all is said and done, we believe we can better prepare for the season by holding training camp here as opposed to McDaniel College or any other facility away from here,” team president Dick Cass explained. “We wanted to let the officials at McDaniel and at the hotel (Best Western) know as soon as we made the decision.
“We owe much thanks to the leadership at McDaniel for their patience as we came to this decision and for all the outstanding help they have given the Ravens through the years. They have been a great partner, often going out of their way to make sure we could prepare our team at a high, high level,” Cass added.
(Before becoming McDaniel College, the school was known as Western Maryland College and hosted the then-Baltimore Colts for training camp from 1953 through 1971. The Colts trained at the Colorado School of Mines in 1972, at Towson State University in 1973, at McDonogh School in 1974 and then at Goucher College from 1975 to 1983.)
“In 1996, Westminster was the best place for us to have training camp,” general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome explained. “How teams conduct training camp today is vastly different. Our football needs and requirements are different. The absence of two-a-days, how much space we need for the players and the meetings, the limited number of practices allowed by the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement), the importance of having an indoor field when the summer storms come – all of that and more football-influenced factors, had me recommend to Steve (Bisciotti) and Dick that we hold camp here.”
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has mixed feelings about the move to Owings Mills. “From a football and team point of view, it’s an easy decision. Personally, this is difficult. Some of my best memories as a kid are my family’s visits to the Colts’ training camp in Westminster. Part of my devotion to the game and the players who made it great and are heroes to many of us, started on those visits.
“We completely understand that this takes away an important part of our connection with our fans. I regret that,” Bisciotti continued. “Hopefully, we can find other ways to continue this outreach. We’ll have more to say on this as we develop these programs.”
“We’ve discussed a variety of possible community interactions,” Cass added. “We are committed to having, at the minimum, three practices away from Owings Mills that would be open to the public with at least one of those at M&T Bank Stadium. We will have smaller groups of fans at practices here (at Owings Mills) and will have other community activities that include access to players and coaches. We want to do something in Westminster, and we are discussing some ideas. These will all have to fit into the first priority: getting the team ready for the regular season.
“This is not a financial decision,” Cass continued. “Because of our training camp sponsors and partners, we did not lose money going to Westminster.”
“We’ll miss having all those fans at practice,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “It was fun having them so close and, at times, pushing the team to higher levels with the way they cheered and encouraged us.”
Cass and Newsome pointed out a number of issues that provoked the Ravens to make this decision:
· Facilities at the team’s Owings Mills facility are conducive to the best practices, especially in bad weather when the team can quickly move inside without losing the limited practice time. The team’s state-of-the-art weight room, conditioning machines and medical/training areas are significantly better.
· Ravens have outgrown the Best Western Hotel. “There aren’t enough rooms for our players, coaches and staff. Nor are there rooms for the individual position meetings that are an everyday part of football preparation,” Cass noted. (Each year the Ravens have added trailers to hold position meetings and use as office space for the staff.)
· Technology requirements, including computer and video, have changed dramatically in recent years. Capacity at the hotel is not compatible with team needs.
· The new CBA limits teams to one practice per day, and the efficiency provided in Owings Mills with meeting space, fields and video and IT operations allows the team to maximize the preparation for the season.