New Ravens facility aims for a larger goal

Project executive says site could attract top players

January 31, 2003|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

If function follows form, the Baltimore Ravens should be in good shape to again reach professional football's mountaintop. Work will begin in March on the team's $20 million headquarters and training facilities in Owings Mills, where attention to the tiniest details will translate into comfort for the large men who play the sport.

Kirk Warden, project executive for Clayco Construction Co. in St. Louis, said the complex will blend modern sports design with natural stone, brick masonry, wood paneling, large stone fireplaces, pitched roofs and Tudor styling. Once completed, the facility will contain more than 200,000 square feet of space.

"We've designed the Ravens facility to accommodate both large, athletic people and everyday people like executives and secretaries," Warden said. "And there is a certain amount of durability built in for the players."

The two-story headquarters, with office suites and meeting rooms, will occupy one part of the complex. The remainder, about 90,000 square feet, will house strength-training rooms, lockers and showers, and a full-size indoor practice field.

Three outdoor practice fields will be next to the building.

Everything in the players' area - from doorways to furniture to toilet stalls - is designed to accommodate large players.

Most doorways are 3 feet wide. At the Ravens facility, they will be 4 feet. Furniture will be oversize and heavy-duty, and walls will be finished concrete block.

The project has been debated since County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina termed the proposal to lease 32 acres of parkland to the Ravens for the facility a "sweetheart deal."

Gardina, a Perry Hall Democrat, expressed the strongest opposition to the deal, saying he thought it was inappropriate for the county to lease parkland to a for-profit business.

Under the terms of the deal, worked out by former County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger's administration, the Ravens will pay about $8 million over the course of a 25-year lease for 32 acres purchased as part of Northwest Regional Park on Deer Park Road.

The deal includes three 10-year renewal options. Most of the parkland was bought in 1997 for $5.2 million. About two-thirds of the money was from the state's Program Open Space, whose funds are intended to pay for state and local parks and conservation areas.

Warden said the facility would be completed by March of next year, and if history is any indication, the sprawling complex should bring positive results for local fans.

"It will create a state of mind in Baltimore that could possibly determine if a hot college prospect wants to begin his career with the Ravens," Warden said. And, he said, it could attract players from other franchises.

Clayco designed a similar facility for the Atlanta Falcons two years ago, Warden said. That team has since drafted star quarterback Michael Vick and made it to the playoffs before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles.

About six years ago, Clayco designers put together a headquarters-training complex for the St. Louis Rams. With the exception of this past season, the Rams have been at or near the top of the NFL.

Warden said his company aims to tap the local work force.

"We are going to come into the Baltimore area and analyze the local market insofar as who will do the work building the facility," Warden said. "More than 95 percent of the work there will be done by local unions and trades."

The Ravens will move to their new home from their training facility in Owings Mills. That complex once served the Colts.

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