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Key dates in Baltimore Ravens history

From Sun staff reports

1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004


Nov. 6, 1995: Browns owner Art Modell, angry with Cleveland cityofficials over the failure to approve a new football stadium, says he can'tstay financially afloat in Cleveland and announces his intention to move thefranchise to Baltimore for the 1996 season. Design work again begins on afootball-only stadium to be built at Camden Yards.

Dec. 24, 1995: The Browns finish the season with a 5-11 record after a24-21 loss to Jacksonville. The team loses 10 of its last 12 games, includingseven of eight after reports of the team's move surface.

1996   Football returns to Baltimore | Photos

Feb. 9, 1996: NFL owners approve the franchise's move to Baltimore.

Feb. 15, 1996: Ted Marchibroda, who had coached the Indianapolis Colts tothe AFC championship game in 1995 and who coached the Baltimore Colts for fiveseasons in the 1970s, is named new coach of the Baltimore franchise.

March 29, 1996: The team is officially named Ravens after a telephone pollconducted by The Sun. Of 33,288 votes, 21,108 pick Ravens, 5,597 chooseAmericans and 5,583 select Marauders.

April 20, 1996: The Ravens conduct their first NFL draft. Their topselections include offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis(both first round), cornerback DeRon Jenkins (second) and wide receiverJermaine Lewis (fifth).

June 3, 1996: Final design begins for a 68,000-seat, football-only stadiumat Camden Yards. Excavating begins soon after, clearing industrial areas andparking lots south of Oriole Park, including the nightclub Hammerjacks.

July 15, 1996: Groundbreaking takes place at the stadium site. Excavationof the area would take until November to complete. The hole dug is 800 feetwide, 900 feet long and 18 feet deep.

July 19, 1996: The Ravens begin their first training camp at WesternMaryland College in Westminster, where the Baltimore Colts held camp from 1949to '71.

Sept. 1, 1996: The Ravens win their first game, 19-14, over the Oakland Raiders in the regular-season opener before 64,124 at Memorial Stadium.

Oct. 27, 1996: Vinny Testaverde throws a 22-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jackson with 10 seconds left in overtime as the Ravens defeat the St. Louis Rams, 37-31, at Memorial Stadium and raise their record to 3-5.

Nov. 24, 1996: The Jacksonville Jaguars defeat the Ravens, 28-25, on afield goal with 5: 54 left in overtime at Memorial Stadium. It was the Ravens'second loss to Jacksonville and their fourth overall, dropping their record to3-9.

Dec. 12, 1996: Quarterback Vinny Testaverde, who would finish the seasonwith 4,177 passing yards and 33 touchdowns, is named to his first Pro Bowl.

Dec. 22, 1996: The Ravens end their first season in Baltimore with a 24-21loss to the Houston Oilers at Memorial Stadium. The team finishes 4-12 and hasthe worst defense in the NFL.

1997   Ravens show improvement in second season | Photos

April 1997: Steel construction begins at the stadium site.

April 19, 1997: The Ravens participate in the second NFL draft. Their toppicks include linebacker Peter Boulware (first round), linebacker Jamie Sharper and safety Kim Herring (second) and running back Jay Graham (third).

May 15, 1997: Cranes begin to place the large concrete busts of theseating deck as the stadium bowl begins to take form.

July 9, 1997: Work begins on the stadium's brick facade. Owner Art Modelland offensive linemen Orlando Brown and Wally Williams help lay the firstbrick. More than 100 bricklayers would use 1.2 million bricks to build thefacade.

July 14, 1997: Ravens begin their second training camp in Westminster, asthe team steadily begins to get its own identity. Free agents Tony Siragusaand Michael McCrary are signed to help shore up the defensive line. Of the 80players reporting for camp, only 18 are former Browns. One player missing isholdout Peter Boulware, the club's first-round pick.

Aug. 16, 1997: Just before a preseason game in Philadelphia, the Ravensannounce they have agreed to terms with Boulware on a six-year contract worth$18.5 million, including a $6 million signing bonus. Boulware does not playagainst the Eagles.

Aug. 31, 1997: The Ravens open their second season with a 28-27 loss tothe Jacksonville Jaguars before 61,018 at Memorial Stadium. The team hadrallied from a 14-0 deficit to tie, but the comeback ended in the final minutewhen Vinny Testaverde's fourth-down pass to Michael Jackson was ruled a trap.

Sept. 8, 1997: Workers begin outfitting the new stadium's locker rooms andother basement features.

Sept. 21, 1997: The Ravens defeat the Tennessee Oilers, 36-10, in Memphis,Tenn., to win their third straight game and improve to 3-1.

Oct. 5, 1997: The Ravens blow a 21-point lead and lose, 42-34, to thePittsburgh Steelers in what many call the low point of the season.

Oct. 10, 1997: Workers begin to outfit the suite and club areas of the newstadium.

Oct. 29, 1997: The Maryland Stadium Authority approves the contract forthe purchase of high-tech video scoreboards, measuring 24 feet by 100 feet --the biggest in sports. The price: $8.7 million.

Dec. 11, 1997: Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden is named to his first ProBowl as a starter. He is joined by fellow second-year player Ray Lewis, whowould lead the NFL with 210 tackles. Lewis was selected as an alternate andwould play in the game.

Dec. 14, 1997: The Ravens edge Tennessee, 21-19, before a sellout crowd of60,558 in the final NFL game at Memorial Stadium. Several ceremonies are heldat the game, including salutes to former Baltimore Colts and members of theArmed Forces.

Dec. 21, 1997: The Ravens lose, 16-14, to the Bengals in Cincinnati to endtheir season with a 6-9-1 record, including 1-4-1 in games decided in the lastquarter.

1998   New stadium opens at Camden Yards | Photos

Jan. 1, 1998: The first seat is installed at the new stadium. Over thecourse of the next seven months, more than 69,000 purple, plastic-molded seatswould be attached to the seating bowl, and on each isle is the bust of aRavens logo. Also, the first air-conditioning units are installed into thesuite and press levels.

Jan. 12, 1998: Running back Bam Morris, the team's leading rusher in 1996and '97, is given a 120-day jail sentence in Rockwall, Texas, for violatingterms of his probation for a 1996 marijuana possession conviction.

Jan. 27, 1998: After an eight-hour meeting among front-office personnel,coaches and scouts, the team announces it will not re-sign Morris. The teamsays instead that it is might pursue 37-year-old quarterback Jim Kelly.

Feb. 14, 1998: The Ravens acquire quarterback Jim Harbaugh from theIndianapolis Colts, swapping their third- and fourth-round draft picks in 1998for Harbaugh and the Colts' fourth-round '98 pick.

Feb. 17, 1998: The Ravens trade a third-round pick in the 1999 draft tothe Tampa Bay Buccaneers for running back Errict Rhett.

Feb. 20, 1998: Seventy-thousand square feet of SportGrass, a blend ofsynthetic and real Bermuda grass, begins to be pulled out of Memorial Stadiumand placed onto the Memorial Stadium parking lot. The grass would betransplanted to the new stadium, saving the project $1 million by using thesame turf.

Feb. 20, 1998: Five-time All-Pro cornerback Rod Woodson, after beingreleased by the San Francisco 49ers, agrees with the Ravens on a four-yeardeal worth $11.5 million, including a $3 million signing bonus.

Feb. 26, 1998: Free-agent fullback Roosevelt Potts agrees to a one-yearcontract with the Ravens, after stints with the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins.

April 18, 1998: The Ravens' conduct their third NFL draft, selectingcornerback Duane Starks with the 10th overall pick and wide receiver Patrick Johnson in the third round.

May 9, 1998: Three hundred people try out for the Ravens' firstcheerleading squad at Towson Center. After two days of tryouts, the field isnarrowed to a 20-person stunt team and a 22-person dance team.

June 2, 1998: After months of speculation that he would be released,quarterback Vinny Testaverde is waived by the Ravens before the start ofminicamp.

June 13, 1998: One-hundred thousand square feet of SportGrass is laid atthe new stadium, more than half of it taken from Memorial Stadium.

June 15, 1998: The Ravens conduct a dry run of the new stadium'sscoreboard, playing the movie "Space Jam" across one side and Ravens seasonhighlights across the other.

June 26, 1998: Workers begin the process of aiming 612 field lights on thelight towers.

June 27, 1998: The Ravens send 60 of their 2,000 game-day personnel to theDisney Institute in Orlando, Fla., to take a crash course in guest service.

July 4, 1998: The Baltimore Colts' Band makes one of its final appearancesunder that name at area Fourth of July parades. The band would change its nameto Baltimore's Marching Ravens on Aug. 8.

July 14, 1998: The Ravens' organization moves into the new stadium'soffices.

July 15, 1998: More than 600 fans participate in a "Super Flush" at thenew stadium. As a test of the septic system, fans flush and run the stadium's1,074 toilets and 668 sinks simultaneously twice. The event receives nationalattention.

July 21, 1998: The Ravens begin their third training camp in Westminster.First-round pick Duane Starks and center Wally Williams are holdouts.

July 21, 1998: A final census is completed, showing the stadium has 69,426seats, about 1,000 more than planned. The discrepancy is due to variations inconstruction.

July 30, 1998: The stadium is unveiled to the public for the first time,as a crowd of 36,016 shows up for an open house. Ravens players also test outthe facility, conducting an hourlong practice.

Aug. 5, 1998: First-round pick Duane Starks, after a two-week holdout,signs a four-year contract worth $7 million.

Aug. 8, 1998: The Ravens play their first preseason game at the newstadium, gaining 197 rushing yards en route to a 19-14 victory over theChicago Bears before a crowd of 65,938

Sept. 5, 1998: The new NFL Stadium at Camden Yards was the backdrop for an opening gala that included fireworks, a Stevie Wonder/Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert and a spectacular laser show.

Sept. 6, 1998:The Ravens opened their new NFL Stadium in downtown Baltimore before a host of dignitaries, a packed house and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens lost, 20-13.

Nov. 29, 1998:The Colts returned to Baltimore for the first time since 1983. The Ravens overcame two 14-point deficits and scored 25 second-half points to win a 38-31 thriller.

1999   Billick era begins in Baltimore | Photos

Jan. 26, 1999:PSINet Inc., the first and largest independent commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP), announced an innovative partnership with the Ravens to develop a global Internet-based network for the Ravens that will significantly enhance outreach between fans and the team, as well as establish a new business model for sports marketing. Under the 20-year agreement, the NFL's new downtown stadium at Camden Yards was named PSINet Stadium.

Jan. 30, 1999:Ravens' Vice President of Player Personnel Ozzie Newsome was selected to go into Pro Football's Hall of Fame, along with Lawrence Taylor, Eric Dickerson, Tom Mack and Billy Shaw. Newsome is the NFL's all-time leading tight end in pass receptions.

Feb. 4, 1999:Art Modell, Owner and Chief Executive Officer of the Baltimore Ravens, named David Modell as the Ravens' President and Chief Operating Officer and John Modell as Vice President of Special Projects.

Sept. 12, 1999:Brian Billick's debut as head coach was spoiled in the regular season opener, as the St. Louis Rams defeated the Ravens 27-10 in the TransWorld Dome. Little known QB Kurt Warner, who went on to become the league's MVP, threw three TD passes in his first NFL start.

Sept. 26, 1999:Billick notched his first win as an NFL head coach, 17-10, over the expansion Cleveland Browns. Stoney Case started at quarterback, replacing Scott Mitchell.

2000   Ravens savor Super Bowl victory | Photos

March 27, 2000:NFL owners approved the sale of 49 percent of the Ravens for $275 million to Anne Arundel County business executive Stephen Bisciotti. Bisciotti has an option to purchase the remaining 51 percent for $325 million in 2004.

2001   History fails to repeat itself | Photos

Jan. 28, 2001:The Ravens defeated the New York Giants, 34-7, to capture their first-ever World Championship in Super Bowl XXXV played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Ray Lewis was named Super Bowl MVP and only Ron Dixon's 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown averted a shutout for the Giants. A Super Bowl record was set when three touchdowns were scored in a span of 36 seconds, including Duane Starks' 49-yard interception return and Jermaine Lewis' 84-yard kickoff return.

Jan. 30, 2001:Over 200,000 people turned out on a cold, gray, rainy day to attend Baltimore's Ravens Victory Parade. "This is the thrill of my life," exclaimed owner Art Modell.

July/August 2001:The Ravens opened training camp as defending World Champions under the scrutiny of the entire nation, as HBO's "Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Baltimore Ravens" debuted with the Ravens as the feature team.

2002   Ravens get glimpse of their future | Photos

May 15, 2002:The Ravens and McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland College) announced a three-year contract extension to keep Ravens training camp in Westminster, MD through the 2004 season. The team has trained at the Westminster campus since the 1996 inaugural season.

Nov. 25, 2002: Ozzie Newsome named general manager of the team, becoming the first black GM in the NFL.

2003   Ravens return to playoffs | Photos

May 5, 2003: Buffalo, N.Y.-based M&T Bank buys naming rights to Ravens Stadium for 15 years.

2004   High hopes end in major disappointment | Photos

April 3, 2004: Ravens and McDaniel College announce the team will hold its training camp at the Westminster campus through 2010.

April 9, 2004: Steve Bisciotti takes over as team's principal owner, completing the purchase with $325 million. Former owner Art Modell retains 1 percent of club.

April 13, 2004: Ravens name Dick Cass team president, replacing David Modell.

July 28, 2004: Brian Billick, team agree to multi-year contract extension.

Oct. 2004: Ravens move into a new $31-million training complex in Owings Mills. The state-of-the-art facility sits on 32 acres and features three outdoor football fields, the NFL's largest weight room, 32-inchhigh-definition televisions in nearly every room and a full-length indoorpractice field.

--Additional information provided by the Baltimore Ravens

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