Ravens' season opener at home in doubt

Ravens' season opener at home in doubt
March 18, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Goodell doing all he can to resolve Orioles - Ravens conflict

As defending Super Bowl champions the Ravens earned the right to host the NFL season opener on national television on Thursday night, Sept. 5. But now that home game appears to be in limbo over an apparent scheduling dispute between the Ravens and Orioles.

At issue is the fact that Orioles are already scheduled to be home that night against the Chicago White Sox. Since the two teams share parking lots, the teams are never scheduled at home simultaneously.

It was thought the Ravens' opponent for the highly anticipated Thursday night opener -- expected to be the Steelers or Patriots -- would be announced at the owners meetings this week. But now that is on hold.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he has talked to baseball commissioner Bud Selig twice on the issue have not resolved anything.

One solution would be moving the Ravens game to Wednesday night. That's what the NFL did this past season; the Giants' season opener against Dallas was moved to Wednesday so as to not conflict with President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention. But according to the Ravens Web site, the Ravens have shot down the idea of moving the game to Wednesday because it would conflict with Rosh Hashanah

Another option would be moving the Orioles game to the afternoon. The Orioles would likely oppose that idea because day games generally draw smaller crowds, meaning less revenue.

On Sept. 3, 1999, the Ravens played an exhibition game at noon, and the Orioles played that night. Goodell said the NFL would work to push the Ravens game back to later on Thursday if necessary to accommodate an Orioles day game.

"We are trying to work out an accommodation to allow the Orioles’ game to happen earlier in the afternoon and the Ravens to celebrate their Super Bowl championship with their fans at home on Thursday night," Goodell said in a news conference from the owners meetings in Phoenix. "We think that is the right thing.  We have agreed to move the game a little bit later in the evening to try to accommodate the baseball game.

" We think it will be a great day," Goodell added. "As a kid who grew up as an Orioles fan, to have the Orioles game in the afternoon and then go to the Ravens’ Super Bowl championship celebration for the Kickoff Game will be a great day.  We hope that is the way it will happen."

The stadium parking lots have generally opened five hours before Ravens games, so any Orioles traffic would ideally be cleared out by then.

As the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec pointed out, any change in game time of more than three hours would require approval of the Orioles, the White Sox, Major League Baseball and the Players Association.

Both teams play away on Wednesday, Sept. 4; Chicago is at New York and the Orioles play in Cleveland. So players aren't likely to approve a day game, particularly an early one, after playing a night game in another city. Another potential option would be moving the Orioles game to a different date and playing a day-night doubleheader, but again, that would need the approval of the players.

If no solution is found, the Ravens would likely open on the road.

" We think that is wrong for the Ravens’ fans," Goodell said. "We would not want that to happen.  That is why we are trying to reach an accommodation here."

Ravens president Dick Cass said that the Ravens have offered to make the Orioles "financially whole" should the game be moved to earlier in the day. "We’ve left it there. Now the commissioner [Goodell] is trying to find if he can find a solution.”