For the Raven faithful, the annual Spring Festival is a way to keep the purple passion going a few more months until the first home game against Tampa Bay on 9/15.
We started our day with one of those charcoal grills (actually, we're a little better prepared and had the propane fired up), thirty friends, a table of nosh including LadyRaven's world famous crab-dip and of course, several coolers full of ‘adult beverages'. There's something about consuming Irish Stout and puffing on a big macanudo at nine in the morning that makes me question my sanity, but if it makes me think it's a fall Sunday, I'm there!
Gates to the ‘Purple Palace' opened at 11.00 with an anticipated attendance of 15,000.
And yes, the hoardes descended upon ‘The Stadium Previously Known as PSINet' (I wonder if we'll get a strange ‘symbol' instead of those purple neon letters?). Anyway replete with the requisite camouflage pants and Ray Lewis jerseys, hundreds stood in line for player autographs, bounced their little ones in the big purple inflatable er..helmet, gawked at the cheerleaders (while I sent the wife to get ‘refreshments') and tried to follow the unfolding NFL draft.
By the time that the Bengals took Levi Jones (yikes) the party was in full swing. Ravens Radio (1300AM) was broadcasting live with a five man team and a big draft board on the club level but it seemed minimally interesting. Most people were simply taking in the scenery in the club level and on the field.
Dads were taking their sons (and daughters) onto the 50 yard line, many looking up at the majesty that is Ravens Stadium and for a second, imagining that the name on their jersey was theirs. The more athletic could try for a 20 yard field goal or attempt to chuck the pigskin through a hole in a net while the two massive 120ft wide SmartVisions relayed the unfolding draft. Note to stadium staff – turn down the PA when there is not an actual game in progress and fifty thousand in the stands. Boy was that loud. They could have at least cranked some Ozzy during the commercials to merit turning those amps up to eleven!.
For the many regular Joes who sit in the cheap seats, a glimpse at the club level is an experience. More TVs than your local Best Buys, posh bars, carpet to spill it all on and comfy sofas everywhere. Think purple IKEA meets fancy purple airport lounge and you should have a pretty good idea. Must be nice when it rains but give me the upper deck any day. This intrepid reporter wondered if one could stretch out on one of those sofas, fire up a big macanudo and swirl a brandy or two while blowing smoke rings but apparently not (the cigar bit anyway).
Now that might just get me to buy Club Level seats.
For most though, it was a chance to meet game buddies and share a few football stories, nosh on a hot dog and think of football season. After a couple of hours of $7.50 imported beers and friendly faces, we returned to our little tailgate spot where the party was still in 'happening' mode. Alas the crab dip was long gone but lo and behold, it had been replaced by large amounts of bratwurst. God bless the Germans!
Gotta love tailgating! Roll on September 15th!
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