The Ravens announced some of their summer training camp plans today, and they include three practices open to fans.
After taking the regular summer workouts away from McDaniel College in Westminster, a decision that will prevent most fans from attending training camp, the Ravens will hold an open practice at three locations: Aug. 4 at M&T Bank Stadium, Aug. 12 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, and Aug. 19 at Stevenson University's Mustang Stadium.
All sessions will be free and open to the public, and feature interactive fan events and autograph signings for kids. Times and specifics for each practice will be announced this summer.
"It's important for us to connect with as many of our fans as we can during training camp," Ravens president Dick Cass said. "We know we can't duplicate the fan experience we had at McDaniel College, but these opportunities will give many people an opportunity to get up close and personal outside of our home games."
This will mark the Ravens' second consecutive training camp at their facility in Owings Mills and their first since they announced that they were ending their long-standing training camp relationship with McDaniel College.
McDaniel's Westminster campus had been the home of Ravens training camp for the first 15 years of the franchise's history, along with being the site of Baltimore Colts training camp from 1953 through 1971. But that tradition ended last year when the extended NFL lockout prompted the Ravens to stay at their facility.
At the time, the Ravens expressed a desire to return to Westminster for the 2012 training camp. However, they changed their minds and announced in December that they would continue to hold training camp in Owings Mills for the foreseeable future.
The decision was based on numerous factors, including that their year-round team facility simply had better fields, including an indoor one in case of rain, a state-of-the-art weight room and conditioning area, and better medical facilities.
The clear downside to the decision was that the 100,000 fans that used to make the trip to Westminster each year would no longer have regular access to training camp. The team's agreement with Baltimore County allows for a limited number of fans to be at the facility because it doesn't have enough available parking spots and the surrounding roads can't handle a heavy volume of traffic.
That's what motivated the Ravens to have three open practices this summer instead of the usual one at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens will give a limited number of fans an opportunity to attend training camp at the Owings Mills facility through a lottery on baltimoreravens.com. The Ravens can host a maximum of 200 people on the fields of their complex, and fans who are randomly chosen through the lottery will be invited to watch approximately 14 of the training camp sessions. Further details on the lottery will be announced on the team's website next month.
The Ravens also announced that coach John Harbaugh and his staff will hold a football clinic at McDaniel College on June 16 for Carroll County youth and high school players. Approximately 450 participants are expected to attend the camp, which will feature on-field drills and seminars.
"Our staff is looking forward to the clinic," Harbaugh said. "We'll teach some football, stress some life lessons and have fun."
Also, McDaniel will host the Joe Flacco Passing Academy with the Ravens' starting quarterback, backup Tyrod Taylor, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and QBs coach Jim Caldwell on July 6-7. The camp is designed for 100 high school players.
"We're excited to build relationships with area high school kids and work to help them improve," Flacco said. "This gives us an opportunity to teach young players many of the things we go through each week during the season. We want this to be something they can take with them and utilize in the long haul. This extends beyond football, as we will focus on what it takes to be successful both on and off the field."
NOTE: The Ravens announced that they have donated $100,000 to help complete the construction of McDaniel's new on-campus facility, Kenneth R. Gill Stadium. The stadium will be used by the Green Terror's football, field hockey, lacrosse and track and field teams. Construction on the stadium began in February, and it's expected to officially open Sept. 15, when McDaniel begins the football season against Muhlenberg College.