The Ravens have landed Westminster: Training camp host lowers expectations for business boost, but NFL team is most welcome.

July 24, 1998

THE RAVENS have landed, back for a third year of summer training camp at Western Maryland College, with a cast of more than 100 performers and staff. But Westminster merchants and officials don't have unrealistic dreams that this third time will be the charm for the local economy.

The past two seasons have been a learning experience for the pro football team, but just as much for the Carroll County seat. The anticipated invasion of hungry, souvenir-grabbing Ravens fans has been small, without as much bang as hoped for the downtown. The economic gain is mostly limited to the private college and fast-food vendors who provide snacks.

Signs of the summer nesting season are less obvious than in past years. Perhaps they will appear later during the five-week camp. Westminster, which decked the streets with Ravens banners the past two years, is taking a less visible approach this time.

It's not that residents don't welcome the NFL team. The training activities are very much a topic of local conversation and pride. The overall economic benefit is positive and a few jobs are created. There's a silver lining in the smaller-than-expected crowds, too: Traffic isn't the nightmare once feared.

What is different this year is the understanding of how a pro football team holds camp. Players don't have time (or energy?) to cruise local attractions after work. The team is focused on making the first season in its new home at Camden Yards a success.

There's a realization among townsfolk that sweet memories of Colts players wandering downtown for a bite when Baltimore's former team trained at the college may be as outdated as a football stadium without skyboxes.

Ravens Coach Ted Marchibroda said that the staff feels more comfortable in Westminster this year, as the environment and routine have become familiar. With a contract to use Western Maryland College for three more years, that familiarity may eventually score a touchdown.

Pub Date: 7/24/98

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