When Ravens veterans report to the Under Armour Performance Center on Wednesday, the training facility will be much like the team's roster over the past six months: under construction.
A multiyear $45 million renovation process of the team's 13-year-old headquarters in Owings Mills remains ongoing. The project will make for an interesting backdrop for Thursday's first full-squad practice of training camp.
While work continues on the training facility, players and the fans who attend Sunday night's open practice at M&T Bank Stadium will also get a look at the result of phase one of the team's renovation project.
On Tuesday, the team unveiled its new ultra-high-definition video displays behind each end zone below the upper level, along with new LED ribbon displays along the seating bowl's suite level.
"These video displays are the brightest and clearest video displays on the market," said Jay O'Brien, the Ravens director of broadcasting and gameday productions. "We think with some of the content we're playing right now, it's just going to bring energy to our fans and our team. This is going to be the place to watch a Ravens game."
The new video displays measure approximately 200 feet wide and 36 feet high, replacing boards that were 90 feet wide and 24 feet high.The addition of elevators and escalators and high-definition video boards in each of the four corners of the stadium are part of phase two and three of the $145 million project, which is expected to be completed by the start of the 2019 season.
Work at the training facility, meanwhile, will likely be done by the end of the calendar year, according to team president Dick Cass.
While the expansion of the Under Armour Performance Center will ultimately allow for more fans to attend practices in future training camps, the current construction will prevent any from coming to this year's workouts.
Instead of hearing applause when Joe Flacco connects with a receiver downfield or laughter when Terrell Suggs chides a teammate, the players will be surrounded by the sights and sounds of construction equipment and contractors hard at work. Team officials, however, expect the distractions to be minimal for a team looking to rebound from an 8-8 season and get back to the playoffs after falling short the past two years.
"There will be no change whatsoever, really," Cass said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun last week. "We have to deal with the construction noise and when the players are meeting, we may have to slow down construction because of that. It's hard when they're meeting in these rooms adjacent to the construction. But apart from that, and we'll deal with those noise issues, it will be training camp as usual for the players."
Since the 200,000-square-foot training facility opened in October 2004, the Ravens have added approximately 50 full-time, nonuniformed employees, and otherwise outgrown the building. The space concerns have been particularly evident during training camp, which has been hosted at the Owings Mills facility since 2010.
"The staff has grown. The meeting space really wasn't adequate for the players," Cass said. "Training camp is now here, so the locker room really wasn't big enough when you're trying to accommodate players during the training camp period and the like. We needed to do that and we needed more space for coaches, more space for scouts. We're expanding the draft room dramatically."
The renovation will add considerable office space, enlarge and enhance meeting rooms for the players, overhaul the current locker room and augment the parking situation, which has limited the number of fans who can come to training camp in past summers. With a price tag of $45 million, the project will cost nearly as much as it did to build the facility when you take into account today's construction dollar.
The work started shortly after the 2016 season ended with team officials mapping out a plan for the work to interfere as little as possible with the team as it prepares for the season. The player and staff dining room is already finished and some work has also been completed in the players' shower area. The locker room renovation will start when the 2017 season ends.
Currently, a new two-story wing is being built in an area that overlooks the three practice fields.
"For the upcoming season, what the players really were dealing with back in the spring for the [organized team activities], that's the same things they'll see for the rest of the season," Cass said. "The meeting rooms are intact. The auditorium is intact. They are really not going to be dealing with any changes other than watching the ongoing construction of the new wing."
Cass said the organization is disappointed that the construction will prevent them from hosting fans at practices this summer. In recent years, the team was able to welcome a limited number of fans, who parked at a nearby lot and took a shuttle bus over to the facility.
However, the acquisition of nearby land will allow for the construction of parking lots and a pathway and road that should facilitate and increase fan attendance at training camp workouts.
Ravens rookies reported to training camp last week with veterans required to arrive by Wednesday afternoon. The team's first full-squad practice is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. Thursday.
As they get set for training camp, the Ravens will have a younger look. Their current 90-man roster has 24 rookies and an additional 10 players who have yet to be active for an NFL regular-season game in their careers. Overall, the Ravens have 39 players who were not in the organization at this time last year.