A celebration featuring a major recording artist, fireworks and a film documenting the Ravens' championship season last year will be held on Thursday at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. But the NFL Kickoff game scheduled for that night featuring the defending Super Bowl champions will be held in Denver, Colo.
And despite the festivities, some Carroll County fans said they would rather have the Ravens play at home for their first game than have a celebration.
"I think that's probably for the non-football people," said long-time Ravens season ticket holder and Westminster resident Steve Timchula, who said he would not be attending the celebration. "Football fans are going to be looking for a place to park their carcass."
At Thursday's celebration, country music star Keith Urban will perform live on a floating stage adjacent to the Maryland Science Center. The event will also include fireworks, music, a water light show and a showing of "America's Game: 2012 Baltimore Ravens." Entrance is free and festivities will begin at 6 p.m. and last until 8:30 p.m. before kickoff.
There will also be activities for adults and kids and charity events featuring former players today and Thursday in the lead up to the game against the Denver Broncos.
The game will be played in Denver, because the Baltimore Orioles, whose stadium shares a parking lot with the Ravens, will play a home game that day.
Spokeswoman for the NFL Joanna Hunter said the league has held the first game of season at the previous year's champion's home field since 2004, mostly on Thursdays. She said this year, the league decided to move the game to Denver due to the scheduling conflicts with the Orioles.
"For those fans in Baltimore, we are throwing an incredible celebration for them and celebrating the Ravens one last time before they take the field," she said. "And they have their home opening coming up shortly afterward, so they get the best of both worlds."
The Ravens' first home game will be Sept. 15 against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium at 1 p.m.
Sykesville resident Kevin Hughes, who has held season tickets since the team came to Baltimore in 1996, said he was disappointed when he heard the team would not play their first game in Baltimore. He noted the NFL has held the game on a Wednesday in the past.
Last year, the first game of the season was held Wednesday, Sept. 5, in order not to compete with the Democratic National Convention, which was scheduled that Thursday.
"It can be done," said Hughes, who regularly tailgates before games with Timchula, "but apparently not in this case."
Timchula, who described himself as a Ravens super fan, said he thinks most fans in Carroll County will not make the drive to Thursday's celebration because they want may want to partake in their own rituals.
As a season ticket holder, Timchula dawns a faux-military uniform and calls himself "Major Offense," a character he invented in 2008.
He said for Thursday's game, he likely will watch at home, while eating some finger foods and wearing one of his Ravens jerseys, which, instead of a player's name, says "offense" on the back.
"Most people have rituals, and you are not going to get football fans away from their rituals," Timchula said.

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