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Ravens open on road due to Orioles conflict

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Consider this a rare example of the NFL not getting its way.

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Instead of celebrating their Super Bowl title with a game at their home stadium, the Baltimore Ravens will start the 2013 regular season on the road, because Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles wouldn't budge.

The NFL likes to have its reigning champion open a season at home and wanted to have the Ravens play in Baltimore at night on Thursday, Sept. 5. But with the Orioles already set to host the Chicago White Sox next door at 7:05 p.m. on that date, and the leagues and teams unable to reach a compromise, the NFL announced Friday the Ravens will have to play somewhere else.

The Ravens and Orioles play at adjacent stadiums and share a parking lot, so they avoid playing at the same time because of traffic problems.

``While we are disappointed for the fans in Baltimore,'' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an emailed statement, ``we appreciate the efforts of the Ravens, Orioles, and Major League Baseball and fully understand the logistical problems in trying to schedule the teams on the same day. The Ravens will open the season on the road.''

He added that the league would like to set up some sort of Super Bowl celebration in Baltimore that night, perhaps including a pregame concert, even if the Ravens aren't there.

The Ravens' Week 1 opponent hasn't been announced yet.

``The Ravens and Orioles explored options, but ultimately decided the two games could not be played in Baltimore on the same day,'' the NFL club posted on its Twitter feed.

Major League Baseball declined to comment, referring reporters to a statement issued by the Orioles, who said they had been working ``over the past several weeks'' to try to accommodate the Ravens.

``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,'' the Orioles said.

Complicating matters were the rules in baseball's collective bargaining agreement that govern rescheduling games - and the fact that both the Orioles (at the Cleveland Indians) and the White Sox (at the New York Yankees) have night games in other cities on Sept. 4, making a day game on Sept. 5 problematic.

The NFL began opening its regular season on a Thursday in 2002. Last season, though, the league chose to play a game on a Wednesday for the first time in more than 60 years, kicking things off on that day instead of Thursday to avoid conflicting with President Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention.

The NFL decided a Wednesday start wasn't an option this time because the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah falls on Sept. 4.

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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