These fans not time sensitive

Later start for Ravens game on New Year's Eve doesn't deter ticket holders

December 27, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Reporter

Dave Shriner won't be deterred.

Though the NFL moved the Ravens' game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4:15, Shriner, a 29-year-old engineer from Bel Air, said he and his father, Ron, have no intention of giving up their seats at M&T Bank Stadium.

"We would be there even if they switched it to 8 o'clock," said Dave Shriner, who was unaware of the change. "We don't care."

Shriner's voice echoed those of several Ravens fans yesterday who were unperturbed about the game's effect on their New Year's Eve plans.

"If we go out, we'll just go out after we come back from the game," said John Meitl, 60, of Ellicott City. "It doesn't really make any difference to me."

Brian Highsmith, a 29-year-old mortgage banker and Baltimore native, said he and his girlfriend had planned to drive to Washington for a concert at 10 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

"We can still make it, but it's going to be a little tight," he said. "But I paid the Ravens a lot of money for my tickets. So I try not to miss many games."

The Ravens (12-3), the AFC North champions, who currently own the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, are in the running for the top seed in the AFC and the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs that accompanies it.

If the Ravens defeat the Bills (7-8), and the Arizona Cardinals (5-10) upset the San Diego Chargers (13-2), the Ravens would leapfrog the West champion Chargers for the top seed courtesy of the Ravens' 16-13 victory over San Diego on Oct. 1.

But if the Ravens lose and the South champion Indianapolis Colts (11-4) defeat the Miami Dolphins (6-9), the Ravens would fall to the No. 3 seed, lose the first-round bye and be forced to travel if they advanced to the second round.

Those potential scenarios were enough to persuade the league to move the game's start time for a national audience.

"The goal of flexible scheduling is to get games with the greatest playoff implications into the windows where the most fans across the country can see them," said Dan Masonson, an NFL spokesman. "The Baltimore-Buffalo game has a lot of playoff implications. A lot hinges on this game, and you can see why it's attractive to the rest of the country."

The switch won't affect the Ravens, and coach Brian Billick joked that the later start time and New Year's Eve can be linked.

"I can't think of a better way to get your New Year's Eve cranked up," he said. "If anything, you start drinking earlier - right? - and be justified. `Honey, I've got to start at 10 because that game's at 4.'

"And I have no doubt that our fans will take that from the game and then go on their way to wherever it is they're going to celebrate the New Year. Hopefully, we can get that kick-started right for them. But we need them in full voice."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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