Ravens may move this year's training camp from McDaniel College

If start delayed by lockout, team would hold public practices at M&T Bank Stadium

March 22, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

NEW ORLEANS — The uncertainty that hovered over this week's NFL owners meetings could affect where the Ravens hold training camp this year.

If the lockout pushes the start of training camp into late summer, the Ravens likely would move their public practices from McDaniel College to M&T Bank Stadium this year.

The Ravens have held training camp in Westminster since moving in 1996, but their contract with McDaniel College expired last year. Officials for the Ravens and the college have agreed to wait on a new deal until a collective bargaining agreement is signed.

"We're in discussions with McDaniel about having camp there this season," Ravens president Dick Cass said, "but we won't be able to make a final decision until we know what our schedule is."

A delayed start to training camp probably would conflict with the return of students and the beginning of the school's football season, which would force the Ravens to make alternative plans. A switch to an 18-game regular season — which might change the training camp schedule — could become an obstacle in the future for McDaniel and the Ravens.

"If [the lockout] went that late, the training camp [at McDaniel] might be in jeopardy," said Ethan Seidel, vice president of administration and finance for McDaniel. "When you get to the start of school, then it becomes a different situation."

If the Ravens can't go to McDaniel, they probably would shift camp to Ravens headquarters in Owings Mills and conduct private workouts there. Because the facility wasn't built to accommodate thousands of fans, the Ravens' public practices most likely would be held at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens drew 17,851 fans to their first training camp practice downtown since 1996. That success led owner Steve Bisciotti to declare it a new tradition.

"I think we're planning on doing more at the stadium anyway," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That was so good last year. We'll probably do it two or three times this year even if we're at McDaniel. I think we're going to come down there more. You hit the segment of your fans downtown that can just walk over or catch the bus."

Training camp in Westminster has been a long tradition for Baltimore football. Before the Ravens practiced at McDaniel, the Baltimore Colts trained there when it was called Western Maryland College.

Last year, a team-record 112,051 fans attended public practices.

Barring a conflict in schedules with McDaniel, Bisciotti said, he envisions keeping training camp at the suburban campus.

"There's nobody in our organization that doesn't appreciate being out there," Bisciotti said.

McDaniel College is considered the ideal site for Ravens training camp. It's only 19 miles from team headquarters, and it has a hotel on campus that can house players, coaches and officials.

"We have a really good relationship," Seidel said. "The Ravens have been a good guest for the campus. They're a good organization."

The trend in the NFL has been teams' moving training camp to their own facilities. The Ravens are one of about a dozen teams who train at a college.

"We really like the situation at McDaniel," Cass said. "We appreciate everything McDaniel College has done for us. We know our fans would like to be out there. We look forward to continuing that relationship."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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