Summer Sessions

Fans' guide to training camp

Ravens Preview

July 27, 2006|By EDWARD LEE | EDWARD LEE,SUN REPORTER

Every summer since 1996, thousands of people have made an annual pilgrimage to the seat of Carroll County to watch Ravens training camp at McDaniel College. Veterans of the trip have established their routes to the college's practice fields and arranged their itineraries. But for the first-timers, Westminster is unexplored territory. What follows is a helpful guide meant to give the uninitiated a few hints on where to go, eat, and drink during the Ravens' training camp.

Best places to park

The parking lot at Bair Stadium on Main Street can hold about 700 cars and is available to the public free on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Bob Eller, senior director of operations for the Ravens. The team has three more overflow lots on Pennsylvania Avenue, and street parking is abundant.

Best place to watch practice

Bleachers along the main practice field at the college run along the sideline and are covered to provide some relief from the sun.

Best place to get a player's autograph

The Ravens have created an area for fans to request their favorite players' signatures. Standing along the fence early is a must. Children 12 and under get access to what Eller called the "Ravens Rookie Zone," which is located at the base of the steps leading up to the college gymnasium.

Best way to get an autograph

Kevin Byrne, the team's senior vice president of public and community relations, suggests being courteous and calm when asking a player for his autograph. Players are leery of adults who are looking to make a quick buck off autographs.

Best way to get coach Brian Billick's autograph

"Tell him you like his hat," Byrne said.

Players who are the most accommodating

Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Edwin Mulitalo, Bart Scott, Daniel Wilcox and Mark Clayton are generous with their time. Ray Lewis loves milling with the people, but the demand for his autograph can create safety and security issues. The leader in the clubhouse, however, in terms of accommodating fans is Ed Reed, who has been known to spend a full hour after practice giving away his signature.

Best place to eat breakfast

Baugher's Family Restaurant at 289 W. Main St. boasts omelets, pancakes and - for the health conscious - a "lite breakfast" of fat-free eggs, turkey sausage and a fruit cup.

Best places to eat lunch

Harry's Main Street Restaurant at 65 W. Main St. is renowned for its hot dogs and scores of photographs of former Colts players who frequented the eatery. Customers who visit Kountry Kafe at 3 Locust Lane are greeted with daily specials.

Best places to eat dinner

Paradiso Italian Restaurant at 20 Distillery Drive is rated 4 1/2 out of 5 stars on Yahoo Travel. Johansson's Dining House at 4 W. Main St. offers steaks and seafood.

Best places to get a cold one

Many microbrews and local beers are available at Johansson's as well as at O'Lordan's Irish Pub at 14 Liberty St.

Best places to stay overnight

The Boston Inn at 533 Baltimore Blvd. is locally owned and boasts Jacuzzi suites with king-sized beds and recliners. Days Inn at 25 South Cranberry Road provides free high-speed Internet access and a continental breakfast for guests.

Best places to shop

Main Street is lined with quaint, family-owned businesses that are within walking distance of the college. For those looking for air conditioning, TownMall of Westminster on Route 140 has 84 stores.

Best sites to visit if you're a tourist

The Carroll County Fair this weekend at the county's Agricultural Center could be fun. For those looking for a little history, Gettysburg is about 24 miles away in Pennsylvania. Pay $35 for a guide and learn what happened at the famous Civil War battle.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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