Since the Ravens left McDaniel College in Westminster following the 2010 season and decided to hold training camp at their own facility in Owings Mills, team officials have been searching for ways to get their fans more exposure to summer workouts.
Their latest plan has the organization working to acquire land adjacent to the Under Armour Performance Center, where it would build a parking lot that would allow more fans to attend training camp.
With that change and additional room to set more bleachers and seating, team president Dick Cass said the team should be able to accommodate 1,000 fans per practice this summer and up to 3,000 fans per practice in future training camps.
Because of parking and traffic issues, the Ravens have only been able to have between 400 and 500 fans attend practice in recent training camps. But that will change, starting this summer.
"We're always concerned about developing our fan base, nurturing our fans, giving them as many touch points with the team as we can," Cass said. "Obviously, the fact that we don't have Westminster as a training site any longer affected how many fans get to come out and watch training camp. We've been looking for ways to replicate that experience at Owings Mills and to see if we can come up with alternatives.
"We've looked at other sites that are close to our facility to hold a practice where we could have more people. We just couldn't come up with a site that really made sense without building brand new fields and building other facilities where we could really replicate it close by. So we've been trying to buy some land close to our facility. We're going to need to make some more arrangements for parking, but if we can expand the parking space, we think we can have more fans at Owings Mills and ramp up the numbers."
Cass said the organization is still working with county officials on land and real estate issues, and the local police to go over traffic concerns. But he is confident that the necessary changes will be made.
"We're hoping that this summer we'll be able to double the numbers that have been coming out," Cass said. "We're hoping to get to 1,000 for a practice this summer, and then ultimately, we hope, if we can get the appropriate approvals or what not, we can get close to 3,000 people going forward - maybe more, we'll see."
The Ravens also will continue to have an open practice for fans at M&T Bank Stadium with this year's session scheduled for April 3. The team has not decided whether it will have another open practice at the Naval Academy, which it has done in recent summers.
The Ravens have a demanding and arduous road schedule during the 2015 season, with trips on tap to play the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers. In an effort to reduce some of the travel strain, the Ravens have asked the NFL if they can play the 49ers and Raiders in back-to-back weeks.
That would allow the Ravens to play one of the games, and then remain in the Bay Area the following week to practice and prepare for the next one. In effect, it would offset some of the challenges that traveling to the West Coast provides. Those challenges include a disruption of practice time and having to get acclimated to the three-hour time difference.
Harbaugh's brother, Jim, had a similar arrangement with the 49ers when he was their head coach and they had back-to-back games scheduled on the East Coast.