Balto. Co. site eyed for Ravens center

Rezoning of land in Owings Mills sought

New Ravens training site eyed

September 07, 2001|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Ravens could be getting a new training center in the Owings Mills area.

Baltimore County took the first step in the process yesterday when it asked the county Planning Board to rezone 160 acres of the county's Northwest Regional Park to allow a professional sports training facility.

Since the former Cleveland Browns arrived in Baltimore in 1996 and were rechristened the Ravens, the team has used the city-owned training complex of the former Baltimore Colts at 11001 Owings Mills Blvd.

The team, however, has expressed interest in building a new training complex and has had initial talks with county officials.

"The Ravens have made inquiries of us about relocation of their training facilities," said county spokeswoman Elise Armacost.

The Ravens' current training center has become a source of dispute with Baltimore City. The city leases the center to the Ravens for $1 a year, but Comptroller Joan M. Pratt recommends that the team be charged $300,000 a year.

The proposed site for a new training center is at Deer Park and Lyons Mill roads, about three miles west of the current complex. A public hearing on the zoning request is scheduled for Oct. 4 before the Planning Board.

The property being considered is on the west side of Deer Park Road. The east side of the road is already slated for four county baseball fields, three athletic fields, community gardens and a playground.

A new training complex would not have any immediate impact on the Ravens' summer training camp at Western Maryland College, team officials said. The team has practiced there the past five summers and is negotiating a three-year deal with the college.

"As far as the training camp is concerned, our first focus is returning to Westminster," said Bob Eller, director of team operations.

In Cleveland, the team operated in a practice facility that also served as the summer training camp. That would be an option if a new complex is built, Eller said. However, the zoning request being considered by Baltimore County would not allow spectators at the site.

An estimated 111,000 fans went to this year's summer training camp in Westminster. The camp generates an estimated $1 million for local businesses, and officials in the Carroll County seat want to keep the camp there.

"It's sort of like `What are you doing looking at my girlfriend?'" Westminster Mayor Kevin Dayhoff said of any flirtation with the idea of moving the summer camp. "It would be a loss."

But Dayhoff said officials aren't panicked by Baltimore County's zoning request.

"The Ravens have made a very nice home here," he said. "We've welcomed them with open arms."

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