Ravens to receive official welcome Ceremony to feature band, area politicians

July 19, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The ceremony will be short but sweet Sunday, when Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan and other officials, plus a high school jazz band, take 15 minutes to welcome the Baltimore Ravens to the team's summer training camp at Western Maryland College.

Rookies reported to camp Monday. The veteran football players, who have been arriving all week, will join them on the field today for both morning and afternoon practice, according to the Ravens staff.

"I think it's gone remarkably well," said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' vice president for public relations, of the team's first week at the campus.

Practice sessions are free to the public and generally run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m, and from about 2: 40 p.m. until 4: 45 p.m., although often subject to change.

Players are available for autographs -- if their weight-trainer doesn't have first dibs on them, Byrne said.

The 15-minute welcoming ceremony is scheduled at 2: 15 p.m. Sunday on the fields outside the college's Gill Physical Education and Learning Center, just before the Ravens' scheduled afternoon practice.

"I think things are going great," Yowan said yesterday. "I can't wait until tomorrow when the veterans start practicing. I think we are going to have a great weekend."

He will officiate, joined by Maryland Secretary of State John T. Willis, Carroll County Commissioner Richard T. Yates and the college's president, Robert H. Chambers. The Westminster High School Jazz Ensemble will perform.

Baltimore's new NFL team will be represented by Ozzie Newsome, vice president for football operations and a 13-year veteran of the Cleveland Browns -- who holds the league record for number of catches by a tight end.

Byrne said owner Art Modell may attend the ceremony, if he can rearrange his schedule.

Tomorrow is expected to bring the most fans to see the team practice, because it's the only weekend date with both morning and afternoon practice sessions.

The patching and resurfacing of Route 140 -- the main entry to Westminster from Baltimore -- will be moved to the shoulders and the median strip for the weekend, said George R. Miller, a traffic engineer for District 7 of the State Highway Administration.

Work will continue at Routes 140 and 97 in Westminster, at the site of the soon-to-open Target store, he said, but shouldn't block traffic. The traffic light at the intersection will be out of service from about 10 p.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. Sunday, Miller said, but police will direct traffic.

Because the team's practice sessions often change, Byrne said fans should call the information number -- 1 (888) 9RAVENS -- before planning a visit. The college also has a hot line including Ravens' information at 857-2766.

"To give an idea why it's important to call," he explained, "our players' meeting ends at 10 o'clock, and then the coaches go meet as a group and may be there until midnight. They go over their plans for the next day, and they may decide 'The players' legs are gone -- why not just have meetings and have them lift weights?'

"And that's it," he said. "They are going to set the schedule and they're not going to change it for the fans -- or because the owner is driving up from Baltimore. We decided it's a bad thing to have the owner come up when there's no practice."

The Ravens have taken over almost all of the college-owned Comfort Inn, across from the practice fields.

And the college has been accommodating, Byrne said. "We threw a curve ball at the school almost immediately, when we wanted to move dinner from their cafeteria to the hotel. But they bent over backward to get it done. They worked it out, and we know it created a hassle for them -- and we appreciate it."

"I haven't had any complaints yet," Yowan said. "It's interesting to see people coming in, families, from Gaithersburg, Falls Church, Towson, Harrisburg -- and this is only for the rookies.

"I think this is something that's going to build every day. And I think if the weather's good over the weekend, we're going to have some very big crowds."

Pub Date: 7/19/96

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