"I think it's a wonderful consolation prize for Baltimore," said Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership, a business group. "It's always a plus to get free publicity for the city thanks to the NFL, and we think it'll draw lots of attention to the city."

Craig Solomon, a finance worker at Laureate International Universities in Harbor East, came to the Inner Harbor for lunch Wednesday to see all the "hoopla" already under way.

Former Ravens center Mike Flynn and retired St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace signed autographs under a tent while people jumped in a foam-filled pool or played Xbox 360 in a sponsored tent.

With an order of shrimp Pad Thai in one arm and purple beads and a Ravens poster in the other, Solomon said the NFL festivities provided some solace to Ravens fans disappointed that the champs aren't playing their first regular season game at home.

"They're bringing a lot of people into the city with the concert and Keith Urban so they're already kind of making up for it," he said. "It's a pretty good consolation prize. He's an award-winning singer if you like country but it doesn't replace them hosting the game."

Baltimore Sun reporter Childs Walker contributed to this article.

jgeorge@baltsun.com

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Major events around downtown

First Thursdays concert

West Mount Vernon Park

5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

NFL Kickoff concert with Keith Urban

Inner Harbor

Doors at 6 p.m., concert from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Baltimore Orioles vs. Chicago White Sox

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

7:05 p.m.