In what is potentially good news on the horizon for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens just announced yesterday that they will hold 12 practices during training camp later this summer that will be open to the public. As far as I’m aware, they are one of the first teams to establish explicitly that fans indeed will be in attendance.
Like the Steelers, the Ravens technically hold their training camp at an off-site location in Owing Mills, though Pittsburgh’s Saint Vincent College training camp destination is about twice as far from their usual facilities as Baltimore’s off-site location is from its.
Still, those parallels bode well for a similar announcement soon from the Steelers, who have consistently maintained that they have every intention of not only returning to Latrobe after being barred from doing so last year, but hosting fans.
Art Rooney II even almost went so far as to suggest that they might not even go out to Latrobe if they were unable to host fans, though he didn’t quite go that far. The Steelers typically hold about 15-17 training camp practices that are open to the public every year, including one Friday Night Lights practice.
“We are thrilled to welcome Ravens fans back to training camp”, Ravens senior vice president of marketing Brad Downs said in a statement through the team’s website. “We missed not having the energy of our fans at practice last year. Our upcoming training camp will be especially meaningful, knowing just how great it will be to reconnect with the Ravens Flock in person”.
Earlier this month, the NFL and NFLPA issued updated COVID-19 protocols that will be in effect for training camp. While it did lay the groundwork for teams being permitted to host fans, it did bar all interaction between players and fans, and requires that fans be kept at a distance.
Baltimore announced that it would be able to host about 1,000 fans, it should be noted, however. I’m not sure what their norm is, but the Steelers certainly typically serve a bit more than that at times, sometimes upwards of 5,000. Friday Night Lights practices can reach eight figures in attendance, but one has to wonder if, with the added complications of the protocols, that might be scrapped this year.
The long and short of it is that teams are beginning to reveal their plans for training camp, with the Ravens announcing practices that will be open to the public, and that will hopefully anticipate an announcement from the Steelers soon echoing similar sentiments for Saint Vincent College in a few weeks. Time is running out, after all. Anybody intending to attend who has to travel needs to start making plans.