Since moving into their new headquarters in Owings Mills, the Baltimore Ravens’ home base has been known semi-officially as The Castle. It’s a fitting name now that the team has decided to stop holding public training camp practices out in Westminster, because it’s as if the team is withdrawing inside to prepare for a siege.
The tradition of a Baltimore NFL team holding its training camp at Western Maryland College – now known as McDaniel – goes back to the days of the Colts, who made their home there from 1949 to 1972. When the new team with a new name and colors moved into town in 1996, it made perfect sense for them to connect that link to the old days. For fans my age, it didn’t mean anything, but for those the age of my parents who probably went to some old Colts practices it was just perfect.
Up until last year, that tradition continued without breaking. Last year, of course, the uncertainty surrounding the lockout meant that the necessary logistical arrangements to use the practice space simply could not be made in time. You might have hoped that they would pick back up in Westminster when it was possible, but this will not prove to be the case.
This is not exactly breaking news. The Ravens announced they would be holding their training camp at their private facility, which was not constructed to accommodate large numbers of the public, during the course of the last season. As training camp approaches, and as the reality of a summer where Ravens fans can’t just go most any day to Westminster and see favorites new and old out on the practice field, it’s worth remembering again, because the decision is unfortunate.
No doubt that there are benefits for the Ravens to do it this way. Using their own facility means a more controlled environment, and probably means more access to more sophisticated equipment for both players and coaches as well. Whether it’s a preference to use the team’s own medical facility or audio/video equipment for breaking down film, you can see why they would rather keep to themselves.
That doesn’t make it any less of a shame for fans who will miss out on opportunities to see their favorite football team up close and personal, though. To be fair, the Ravens have announced that they will have three free, open to the public practices: August 4th at M&T Bank Stadium, August 12th at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, and August 19th at Stevenson University’s Mustang Stadium in Owings Mills.
The last is interesting because Mustang Stadium was built on the same ground that once housed the Ravens’ headquarters until they moved into The Castle – and, when they were still here, the Colts. It’s the same space where Mayflower vans once left in the middle of the night in a snowstorm.