Ravens fans will have a new way to stay busy at training camp starting next week in Westminster. The Pepsi Fan Zone, stationed alongside the two practice fields, will allow fans to get a feel of being a football player.
"This adds to the scope of what's available for fans to do at training camp," said Bob Eller, Ravens director of operations. "The Fan Zone adds fun to camp. It's a great family atmosphere, a great way to spend a day."
The Fan Zone will offer five interactive, football-related activities and will be free of charge to fans of all ages. The zone is located in a 250-foot-by-175-foot enclosed area on a hill, surrounded by the twin training fields, tennis courts and a baseball field on the Western Maryland campus.
Fans can measure their accuracy throwing a football to a dummy receiver in the Quarterback Challenge and can have their throwing velocity clocked in the Speed Throw.
The other three activities may test the limits of couch potatoes. An obstacle course is located on the right side of the Fan Zone. Eller said the course is a "true test of one's athletic ability."
Next to the obstacle course is a Punt Return Booth, where fans can attempt to simulate Jermaine Lewis catching high-arcing balls shot out of a machine similar to a baseball-pitching device. The Field Goal Fantasy is adjacent to that. There, fans can try field goals from various distances and even face the simulated pressure of getting the kick up in time.
All of the results in each of the activities will be recorded and posted so fans can keep track of their performances.
Music will play in the background and concession stands will be positioned within the Fan Zone.
The Fan Zone will be open 30 minutes before until 30 minutes after the morning and afternoon practice sessions. The Fan Zone will be one of many changes at training camp this year.
Fans can park closer to the field, in a lot on the lawn next to the Fan Zone, right off Main Street.
"This brings fans up close to the action," Eller said.
In the past, fans had to park on nearby Pennsylvania Avenue, a 10-minute walk from the practice fields.
In addition, all fans attending camp will receive a complimentary, 62-page Ravens booklet containing rosters, player biographies, stadium information and more.
Eller said he expects a much busier training camp in 1998. "There's a lot of excitement around here," he said, "especially with the new stadium and the acquisitions of Jim Harbaugh, Rod Woodson and Errict Rhett."
Said Ravens owner Art Modell: "We've had good crowds at training camp our first two seasons. These additions should give us even more fans."
Last summer, 2,000 fans, on average, attended training camp each weekday, with larger crowds on weekends.
Eller anticipates about 5,000 fans attending each of the six scheduled weekend practices this summer, but said the Westminster camp can accommodate up to 10,000 fans.
Location: Western Maryland College, Westminster
Dates: July 21-Aug. 20
Practice session hours: 9 a.m. to 11: 15 a.m. and 2: 40 p.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information: Call Ravens at (410) 261-FANS
Pub Date: 7/14/98