As the summer began and the 2011 NFL lockout was still ongoing, the Baltimore Ravens made an announcement that affected thousands of people. The team decided to hold their practices at their Owings Mills team facility instead of their regular summer location of McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland, my hometown. Not only was I personally affected, but thousands of fans and many area businesses will feel the loss of local professional football.
After hearing this devastating news, I was disappointed and upset. Every year I look forward to the day when the Ravens settle into Westminster. It is more than exciting to have some of your favorite players living in your town for the summer. Unfortunately, this year there will be no sighting of NFL stars in local supermarkets or restaurants.
One of the most exciting things about training camp is the thrill of getting autographs. Being squished next to so many people reaching to give a player a jersey to sign gives you such an adrenaline rush. I will most certainly miss that opportunity year. Last year, I waited patiently andwas able to get signatures from Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis! It made my day, but now I’ll have to wait until next year to have another such experience.
Recently, every time I have driven by McDaniel College, I think about what is missing. The college looks extremely empty because all the fun inflatable bounce houses and obstacle courses for kids are not there. All the little children in Westminster, including my sister, will most certainly miss this opportunity to release some energy.
Probably the most devastating effect of not having training camp in Westminster is the loss of profit for local businesses. Each previous summer, shops and restaurants in downtown Westminster would decorate their window displays in purple and black in hopes of attracting fans. Last year more than 110,000 fans made their way to the small Maryland town for training camp. Some businesses might have even budgeted for the increase in profit during the summer months. But now these businesses will have to compensate in some other way. The Best Western in Westminster has taken the hardest hit of all the businesses, as it was the Ravens’ home for the summer. Usually, all 101 rooms are booked and filled with players and coaches and the maid staff is busy cleaning, but now the hotel is like a ghost town. The Best Western has tried to advertise their vacancies but, according to The Carroll County Times, business is still moving quite slow.
I am very excited the lockout has been successfully resolved and I can’t wait for the NFL season to start. However, I know that my summer wasn’t complete because the Baltimore Ravens didn’t come to Westminster.