Ravens to play NFL’s season-opening game on the road

March 22, 2013

Joe Flacco and the Ravens will play on the road in the NFL’s season-opening game Sept. 5 (Associated Press)

The NFL, unable to resolve a conflict with a previously scheduled Orioles baseball game in Baltimore, will send the Super Bowl champion Ravens on the road for pro football’s season-opening contest Sept. 5, the league announced Friday.

“While we are disappointed for the fans in Baltimore, we appreciate the efforts of the Ravens, Orioles and Major League Baseball and understand the logistical problems in trying to schedule the teams on the same day,” Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of communications, said in a written statement. “The Ravens will open the season on the road on Thursday night, September 5, in our annual NFL Kickoff Game on NBC. We are exploring potential fan activities in Baltimore around the Kickoff Game, including a pregame concert.”

The Ravens, as the defending Super Bowl champions, were in line to host the NFL’s season opener on the Thursday night before the first Sunday of games.

But the Orioles already were scheduled to play at home that night against the Chicago White Sox. The Ravens’ and Orioles’ stadiums are adjacent and share the majority of their parking lots, so the two games could not be played simultaneously.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in contact with his baseball counterpart, Bud Selig, as the teams and leagues tried to resolve the issue. The NFL hoped that the baseball game could be moved to the afternoon, perhaps at 4 p.m., and the football game could be played at 9 p.m.

The NFL decided not to play the game a day earlier in Baltimore because of a conflict with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Last season’s NFL season opener, hosted by the New York Giants, was played on a Wednesday night. The league moved that game a day earlier to avoid a conflict with President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Ravens officials preferred to play a Thursday night game on the road rather than hosting a Sunday night game in Baltimore on the season’s opening weekend. By playing on Thursday, the Ravens preserve their extended break before their second game of the season.

The Ravens’ opponent for the opener has not yet been announced.

“After thorough discussions among the Orioles, the NFL and the Ravens, it became clear that holding both an Orioles’ game and the Ravens’ regular season opener on the same day would create logistical situations that would cause serious issues for the city of Baltimore, and fans for both teams,” Ravens President Dick Cass said in a written statement. “The Ravens greatly appreciate the willingness of the Orioles to adjust the start of their game in an effort to make this sports spectacular happen. But, in the end, anticipated problems with parking, rush-hour traffic, plus crowd and car congestion around Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium, will keep the doubleheader from taking place.”

The Orioles issued a written statement that said: “Given the limited options available to reschedule the game at that late date in the season, the parties jointly determined that even an earlier start time would still create such enormous logistical difficulties that it would greatly diminish the fan experience for both events which all parties realized would not be in the interest of their fans or the City.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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Mark Maske · March 21, 2013

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