Ravens' game plan targets fan comfort More buses, restrooms among improvements

August 15, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Preseason football games are supposed to provide teams with a chance to find and address various deficiencies. But for the Ravens, this thinking extends beyond the playing field and into the restrooms and parking lots.

In response to the myriad of problems that arose nearly two weeks ago as angry fans waited for Mass Transit Administration buses to pick them up after the Ravens' first game at Memorial Stadium, some changes are in store to help make Saturday's commute less hectic.

For starters, to improve the traffic flow along 33rd Street, bus-only lanes will be implemented between Loch Raven/Alameda and Memorial Stadium. And more buses will be allowed to park on site at the stadium.

The MTA expects to have 96 extra buses available in parking lots and near Ednor Road. Shuttle buses will be available again at Lake Clifton High School. About 300 cars used them last time.

Because of limited parking at and around the stadium for the Aug. 3 opener, fans were encouraged to use public transit. Many of them heeded the warnings, with nearly 18,000 people traveling by MTA bus -- 30 percent of the game's attendance.

"We tried to scare them a little so they wouldn't drive," said Carol Salmon of the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Even scarier were the difficulties encountered after the game by fans who were left stranded for more than an hour while buses were either tied up in traffic or being rerouted incorrectly.

"I think there was just some confusion with the traffic control," Salmon said. "It was a learning experience. We hadn't had a game at Memorial Stadium for 12 or 13 years. I'm sure they've been working hard for two weeks to make adjustments, and they'll probably have to make more adjustments before the Oakland game [Sept. 1]."

Transportation wasn't the only snag at the Aug. 3 game. Several toilets at the stadium malfunctioned because of insufficient water pressure, and there were long lines outside the women's rest rooms.

Ed Cline of the Maryland Stadium Authority said portable restrooms are being placed in the north end-zone area. This will increase the number of facilities by 23 percent for women and 7 percent for men.

"I need to give credit to the city public works department," Cline said. "They've put some people in there the past two weeks who have experience in running Memorial Stadium. They've done several things to increase the water pressure, cleaned out strainers and valves, put new valves in.

"We're sure it's going to be better this week. It will never be as good as a new stadium, but it definitely will be better."

Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said Memorial Stadium, even with the first-game flaws, scored a decisive win over Cleveland Stadium, where the team played as the Browns before coming to Baltimore.

"In Cleveland, running water was a problem. You wouldn't have any in the second half of games there. We really had some significant headaches that we could never correct because of the pipes there that had been built 60 years ago and the city's unwillingness to spend any money," he said.

"We've found the Maryland Stadium Authority to be not only very good reactively, but they're really proactive. So far, so good."

Pub Date: 8/15/96

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