Hitting pay dirt on the gridiron Carroll County: Ravens summer camp at WMC can score big for the community.

June 24, 1996

THE ARRIVAL of the Baltimore Ravens summer training camp in Westminster next month will have a regional economic impact of more than $3 million during that four-week period, including hordes of spectators for the twice-daily field practices.

At least, it could have that impact if host Western Maryland College and the greater Westminster community do their best to make the pro football team feel at home and to roll out the welcome mat for the visiting fans.

There's hard work ahead, including the myriad details that can make or break a deal, and the need to view this as a serious investment in long-term economic development for Carroll County. "We have $3 million sitting here, we're going to work pretty hard to keep $3 million in the county," pledges Jack Lyburn, county economic development director.

The contract with WMC is for one year only, to test the waters. Long-term commitment will require further improvements at the private college, including air conditioning for dorms and expanded locker rooms; perhaps $500,000 in work is needed. But the team and college are sharing the cost of irrigating three fields this year, and WMC is adding about 150 parking spaces, a good sign of future expectations.

When the Washington Redskins moved their summer camp to Frostburg State University in Allegany County last year, the area gained about $3.5 million in local spending. Thousands of spectators came from 10 states. Frostburg State netted $44,000 and a world of publicity, plus a 10-year contract with the 'Skins. That success was the result of a combined effort by the community, tourism office and the college to promote the sports camp.

Westminster hopes to emulate that example, planning to bedeck the streets with the purple-black colors of the Ravens, and to double-team tourists with information on the area's accommodations and other attractions. Engaging the entire county's enthusiasm will be key to convincing the Ravens to return.

The NFL team is also looking for a permanent headquarters and training facility, the old Colts complex at Owings Mills deemed inadequate. Carroll has the land and has made an offer. If WMC proves to be a comfortable summer home for the Ravens, it may also provide the county with a promising way to feather its nest.

Pub Date: 6/24/96

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