Stadium, Ravens work out tonight Fans, employees, team geared up for 'dry run'

Stadium Watch

July 30, 1998|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

It's axiomatic in the restaurant business that you don't want to open for business on a Saturday night without first having a couple of less-hectic days under your belt, to break in the staff and work out the bugs.

The Ravens will be operating under the same philosophy tonight, when they open their new stadium for a dress rehearsal.

The event, open to 53,000 season-ticket holders, features limited action: a team practice that will last a little more than an hour. And don't look for laser shows or headlining performers -- that will come when the place opens for real, for the Sept. 6 regular-season game. Just the team band tonight.

There won't even be any real tackling. That will come Aug. 8, when the Ravens open their preseason against the Chicago Bears.

"Some people are surprised when they come to an NFL practice that we aren't bashing each other," said Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne.

The reason is simple: There's no sense tearing up a $4 million-a-year knee when no one is even keeping score. Especially for a team that could have lost its punter when he accidentally kicked a camera during the filming of a commercial.

But all of the concession stands will be open and all of the game-day employees mustered to give the place as good a test as can be had without the voices of 69,000 fans and the eyes of network television.

"We are treating this as a dry run. We felt we needed something in there before we had our first game. The first time should not be the first game," Byrne said.

The Maryland Stadium Authority and other builders of the stadium will also be on hand, watching carefully for troubles. A "SWAT" team of contractors will be on hand to deal with problems that crop up, said stadium authority project manager Alice Hoffman.

Supervisors will be divided into teams and assigned quadrants of the stadium to patrol during the dry run, she said.

For many fans and players, it will be their first glimpse of the $220 million roost. Everyone needs to figure out how to get there, where to park and how to find his way around the place.

On the field, there will be several drills, including seven-on-seven, and maybe even an 11-on-11 matchup of the offense and defense -- but no live tackles. Off the field, the doors and concession stands will open at 6 p.m.

Parking will be tight, and the team suggests planning ahead. No parking spaces will be sold at Camden Yards. Only people already in possession of pre-purchased passes can park there. Other lots downtown, however, will be open. The Mass Transit Administration buses will run their regular schedule, but there will not be any of the park-and-ride service planned for game days.

Light rail will run, with the debut at the stadium's new stop, called the Hamburg Street Station. Service to the stop will begin at 4 p.m. and run until the end of service, about 11 p.m.

Pub Date: 7/30/98

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