Ravens fans check out new team, new seats Memorial Stadium drill is warm-up for Saturday

July 28, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Call it a dress rehearsal on a sparkling stage.

The Ravens, who have been training at Western Maryland College for nearly two weeks, rolled into town yesterday for a 90-minute workout at Memorial Stadium, which will be their home for the next two years.

In front of 7,788 fans, many of whom came to look at their season ticket locations, some of whom came for autographs and all of whom wanted a peek at Baltimore's new team, the Ravens went through their drills crisply.

They will return here Saturday night for the first preseason game in team history against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"This was real exciting. It gave us a taste of game-day mentality," wide receiver Michael Jackson said. "We've been feeling a little sluggish lately. This picked up our practice intensity level."

"I was pleased to see all of the people come into the stadium," said coach Ted Marchibroda, who coached the old Colts when the field on 33rd Street was considered one of the worst in the NFL. "It helped set a tone for practice, and the field is in better shape than I've ever seen it."

The fans who watched practice under gorgeous sunshine took in the stadium's new look. The seats have been repainted, their numbers changed. The place has a clean smell after a good power-washing. About 10,000 temporary seats have been installed, including a large bank of bleachers that has closed in what used to be the open end of the stadium's horseshoe layout.

Those who came to inspect their seat locations came away with mixed reviews.

Things could not have worked out better for Gary Balog, a data processing manager who lives in Gamber. Balog was on the preferred list, having left his season ticket deposit with the Maryland Stadium Authority three years ago, when Baltimore was pushing for an expansion team. Balog owned Stallions season tickets on the 50-yard line in the lower concourse and was rewarded with the same seats by the Ravens.

Not nearly as pleased was Dundalk's Andy Budciak, who shelled out $55 per game for his season ticket. Yesterday, he sat in his lower deck seats off the corner of the south end zone, just beneath the overhang.

"I'm disappointed," he said. "I was hoping to get something with more of a view. From here, I definitely need binoculars. I'm a big Penn State fan, and I usually get better seats buying them in the parking lot. If this is the second-best ticket in the house, it's upsetting. The only good things are I'm close to the aisle and I've got a cover over my head if it rains."

Joe Lupinetti of Cecil County fell somewhere in the middle with his critique. He paid $55 per game for an upper-deck seat near the goal line. "This was actually an upgrade from what we had originally," he said. "It's a lot better than what we had. They're OK."

The other hot topic of conversation were the "No Tailgating" and "No Alcoholic Beverages" signs that greeted visitors as they turned onto the stadium lots.

Ravens officials said they are merely abiding by a city order not to allow tailgating. They also said the bumper-to-bumper parking that will be required could make grilling food dangerous. Several Baltimore City police officers on patrol outside the stadium yesterday laughed at the notion of enforcing the rule.

"People are here to have a good time," said Marlon Bowie of Randallstown. "It [tailgating] is going to happen whether they like it or not. It's part of football, so they might as well just take them signs down. If you've got 60,000 people lining up to tailgate, what are you going to do, lock them up? You just wait until next week."

Pub Date: 7/28/96

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