Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell says his team is likely to return to Western Maryland College for summer training in 1997.
Despite a few stumbles during the Ravens' first training camp at the college this summer (attributed to the team's late selection of a site), Westminster scored well with the team's owner and management.
College and team representatives haven't worked out details, but Modell said Friday that the Ravens are "not looking at any other site right now." He had said earlier in the week that he was "very confident" the team would return to WMC.
College administrators, Westminster officials and county tourism promoters are eager to see the Ravens return.
Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan said the city "absolutely" wants the team back.
Barbara Beverungen, the county's tourism director, said her staff would welcome the Ravens back "with open arms." Nearly 10,000 people visited a county tourism booth on the college campus during the first training camp.
Modell said he will ask the college to level and improve drainage on practice fields and reschedule youth camps to avoid conflicts with the Ravens' practice schedules. The college traditionally holds a summer soccer camp.
He also will ask the college to be more "creative with the food."
Joyce Muller, a college spokeswoman, said the campus community is glad Modell "had such a good experience here last summer."
If the Ravens want WMC to make major, expensive improvements in the practice fields, "we'd like more than a year-to-year contract," she said.
Bob Eller, the Ravens' director of operations and information, said the team's intention "is to look at a multiyear contract." He said the Ravens expect to sign a contract before the end of the current football season.
Modell's concerns about food service can be worked out, Muller said. She said the college's food service contractor was initially asked to provide "heart healthy" foods for the training table.
"When the players got here, they wanted a lot of meat and potatoes," Muller said, noting that the contractor complied.
Modell said training table food is "critically important." He said the Ravens may bring in a consultant to explain how the team wants menu items color-coded to indicate fat content.
Despite publicity, the team's presence in Westminster didn't attract as many tourists as expected last summer.
Sandy Scott, president of the Westminster Business Association, said local restaurants reported some increase in business but that most local merchants got little return from money spent on advertising.
"We're not turning our noses up at them, but I think there are going to be a lot of people who'll be a lot more cautious next time," Scott said.
She said it may take a few years for the Ravens to attract a steady following of local fans.
"Then maybe more people will come to Westminster and say, 'Gee, what a neat town' and come back," she said.
Pub Date: 10/20/96