The Baltimore Ravens will become the first Super Bowl winner in a decade to open its championship defense on the road because of a scheduling conflict with baseball’s Baltimore Orioles.
The National Football League wanted to have the Ravens open the 2013 season on Thursday, Sept. 5, at M&T Bank Stadium against a yet-to-be-named opponent. The Orioles already were scheduled to host the Chicago White Sox the same evening. The stadiums are adjacent to each other and share a parking lot.
Although the Orioles were willing to move their game from its 7:05 p.m. local time start, officials decided there would be too much congestion and it would be best to send the Ravens out of town.
“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 yesterday in a statement.
He said possible problems with parking, rush-hour traffic and pedestrian and highway congestion “will keep the double-header from taking place.”
The Baltimore Sun reported that the Ravens didn’t want to move the game to Sept. 4 because that’s the start of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and didn’t want to play Sunday because they would lose the extra rest from having the longer week before the second game of the season.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello released a statement saying the league will explore holding fan activities to celebrate the annual NFL Kickoff Game in Baltimore, including a pregame concert, even with the team on the road.
The NFL began opening the season with a midweek game, usually on Thursday night, in 2002. Since 2004, the reigning Super Bowl champion has opened at home with a “big event,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mail.
The Orioles issued a statement saying there were limited options to reschedule the game so late in the baseball season and that an earlier start time would “greatly diminish the fan experience for both events.”