Ravens heading to temporary nest at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

The Ravens are flying the Owings Mills coop to come to Annapolis, and the capital city is ready to greet them.

The Ravens will be at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Monday for a 7 p.m. practice that's free and open to the public. Events include post-practice player autograph signings for children, activities for younger fans, giveaways, and cheerleader and mascot meet-and-greets.

The session also features a youth football clinic on the field before the practice. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

It's the third year the team has made the trek to the state capital, solidifying a relationship between the team and Anne Arundel. Some 10,000 to 15,000 fans are expected to attend.

"We have many fans in Annapolis area, including many season ticket holders," said Kevin Byrne, the team's senior vice president of community relations. "The area is a stronghold for us, and we want to give the fans there an easy access to our team."

It may be only a practice, but Annapolis began celebrating the visit days in advance. Last Thursday, Mayor Mike Pantelides hosted a pep rally at Susan Campbell Park.

Pantelides said Monday's practice will give the city great exposure, and he noted it's a good move on the part of the Ravens part to reinforce their hold on Arundel — which also has a number of fans of the Washington Redskins.

"It would be the ultimate dream to have them play against each other here," Pantelides said.

Naval Academy officials are also thrilled by the spotlight the Ravens' visit brings to Annapolis and their stadium. Scott Strasemeier, who works in the school's athletic department, noted that the practice will draw people from outside the region to the area — and perhaps pique their interest in the Naval Academy and Navy athletics.

"We have a great relationship with the Ravens," Strasemeier said. "We play some games in Baltimore, and hopefully this will bring us some new fans."

The stadium lot will open at 4 p.m and will also be available for tailgating (no barbecues). The cost is $10 for cars and $25 for buses. Parking can be purchased at navysports.com. If Navy lots become full, nearby locations are available with stadium shuttles.

The Annapolis Police Department will post officers at the practice for security and traffic monitoring. Police officials said the event isn't likely to be particularly disruptive to residents, as Navy games typically attract about 35,000 people.

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