What was feared all week became official on Friday afternoon as the Baltimore Ravens announced they will not host the NFL’s season opening game on Thursday, Sept. 5.
Unable to work out a compromise with the Orioles, who are scheduled to play the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards on the same night, the Ravens will play on the road against an opponent yet to be determined. Baltimore will remain involved in NBC’s nationally-televised opening game to begin the season, but the news will bring major disappointment to Ravens fans hoping to see the Orioles move the start time of their game.
Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne told AM 1570 WNST that the Orioles were willing to change the start time of their game on Sept. 5, but the teams could not move past the logistical concerns created by two games being played on the same day. Byrne also said it was unfair from a competitive standpoint to expect the Orioles to play a doubleheader at some point during that weekend.
Moving the time of the Orioles’ scheduled 7:05 p.m. game on that night required approval from Major League Baseball, the players union, and the White Sox.
“After thorough discussions among the Orioles, the NFL and the Ravens, it became clear that holding both an Orioles’ game and the Ravens’ regular season opener on the same day would create logistical situations that would cause serious issues for the city of Baltimore, and fans for both teams,” Ravens president Dick Cass said in a statement. “The Ravens greatly appreciate the willingness of the Orioles to adjust the start of their game in an effort to make this sports spectacular happen. But, in the end, anticipated problems with parking, rush-hour traffic, plus crowd and car congestion around Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium, will keep the doubleheader from taking place.”
With the Ravens now opening their 2013 season on the road, the strongest possibilities of an opponent that evening are the Denver Broncos or the Pittsburgh Steelers. The news comes as an even bigger disappointment when remembering the NFL did not award the Ravens with the season-opening Monday night game in the 2001 season in what was then a privilege bestowed upon the previous season’s Super Bowl champion.
The last defending Super Bowl champion to open up the following season on the road was Tampa Bay in 2003.
The NFL is currently exploring fan activities in Baltimore centered around the season-opening game, including a pre-game concert.
“While we are disappointed for the fans in Baltimore, we appreciate the efforts of the Ravens, Orioles and Major League Baseball and understand the logistical problems in trying to schedule the teams on the same day,” NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello said in a released statement. “The Ravens will open the season on the road on Thursday night, September 5, in our annual NFL Kickoff Game on NBC. We are exploring potential fan activities in Baltimore around the Kickoff Game, including a pre-game concert.”
The Orioles released the following team statement regarding the sides’ inability to work out a compromise:
“The Orioles have great respect for the Super Bowl Champion Ravens and thank Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, and the White Sox for doing everything possible to work with us to explore all options to reschedule the September 5 game. We also appreciate the work of the NFL and the Ravens over the past several weeks as we attempted to accommodate the Ravens’ interest in a game the same evening. Given the limited options available to reschedule the game at that late date in the season, the parties jointly determined that even an earlier start time would still create such enormous logistical difficulties that it would greatly diminish the fan experience for both events which all parties realized would not be in the interest of their fans or the City.”
Circumstances for all involved parties led to the inability to work out an agreement, but you can even attribute the Ravens opening on the road — in some small part, anyway — to bad luck.
Since the NFL began awarding the season-opening Thursday game to the previous year’s Super Bowl champion in 2004, the Orioles either had a scheduled off-day or were on the road on the date of the prime-time affair eight out of nine times. The Orioles played a scheduled home game in 2007 and rescheduled a game that was postponed earlier in the season in 2011.