OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens will no longer hold training camp at McDaniel College, where they held training camp from 1996-2010.
Due to the lengthy NFL lockout, the Ravens didn’t hold training camp there this preseason. But based on current trends in the NFL, the front office and coaching staff decided keeping training camp in Owings Mills was the best idea.
“How teams conduct training camp today is vastly different,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “Our football needs and requirements are different. The absence of two-a-days, how much space we need for the players and the meetings, the limited number of practices allowed by the new CBA, the importance of having an indoor field when the summer storms come — all of that and more football-influenced factors had me recomment to (owner) Steve (Bisciotti) and (president) Dick (Cass) that we hold camp here.”
A Baltimore Sun report earlier this week suggested the Ravens would stay in Owings Mills for financial reasons. Cass said that wasn’t the case, though the Ravens will be able to save logistical costs from lugging equipment frlom Owings Mills to Westminster.
“This is not a financial decision,” Cass said. “Because of our training camp sponsors and partners, we did not lose money going to Westminster.”
Professional football in Baltimore has a long history with Westminster. From 1953-1971, the Baltimore Colts trained at Western Maryland College, which changed its name to McDaniel College in 2002. When the Ravens moved from Cleveland, in 1996, they went back to the old site.
“From a football and team point of view, it’s an easy decision,” Bisciotti said. “Personally, this is difficult. Some of my best memories as a kid are my family’s visits to the Colts’ training camp in Westminster. Part of my devotion to the game and the players who made it great and are heroes to many of us, started on those visits.”
Bisciotti said he realizes this could alienate some fans who only get to catch the Ravens up close during training camp.
“We completely understand that this takes away an important part of our connection with our fans,” Bisciotti said. “I regret that. Hopefully we can find other ways to continue this outreach. We’ll have more to say on this as we develop these programs.”
Cass said the Ravens are “committed” to having a minimum of three practices away from the team facility in Owings Mills that would be open to the public. At least one of these will be held at M&T Bank Stadium.
“We want to do something in Westminster and we are discussing some ideas,” Cass said. “These will all have to fit into the first priority: getting the team ready for the regular season.”
Coach John Harbaugh said he’ll miss having the fans attend practice on a regular basis in Westminster.
“It was fun having them so close and, at times, pushing the team to higher levels with the way they cheered and encouraged us,” Harbaugh said.
As written in the Ravens’ press release, here are the main factors that contributed to the decision to keep training camp in Owings Mills:
Facilities at the team’s Owings Mills facility are conducive to the best practices, especially in bad weather when the team can quickly move inside without losing the limited practice time. The team’s state-of-the-art weight room, conditioning machines and medical/training areas are significantly better.
Ravens have outgrown the Best Western Hotel. “There aren’t enough rooms for our players, coaches and staff. Nor are there rooms for the individual position meetings that are an everyday part of football preparation,” Cass noted. (Each year the Ravens have added trailers to hold position meetings and use as office space for the staff.)
Technology requirements, including computer and video, have changed dramatically in recent years. Capacity at the hotel is not compatible with team needs.
The new CBA limits teams to one practice per day, and the efficiency provided in Owings Mills with meeting space, fields and video and IT operations allows the team to maximize the preparation for the season.
By Jason Butt