If you set aside lacrosse and Berger Cookies, the line from “Wedding Crashers” almost got it right. True Baltimoreans generally prefer picking our own steamed crabs (malt vinegar, Old Bay, amen) over eating somebody else’s handiwork in a cake, of course, but one takes what one can get when Hollywood takes over. Our world champion Ravens reign, and it’s a purplewashed place to be. Next week, though, we’ll suffer the injustice of watching our team open the NFL season from afar, and it’s all because of parking.
Football is a bit akin to religion in parts of our fair state–Robert Irsay’s 1984 run out of town only solidified our faith–and we threw our Ravens and their Lombardi Trophy a heck of a party earlier this year. We also take Purple Fridays pretty darned seriously, donning the royal color for work and play on the last day of the work week most of the year. So why are we resigned to watching next week’s kickoff on our TVs at home?
Parking. See, when Baltimore retired the edge-of-the-city Memorial Stadium, which the Orioles and Colts shared for years, to build the decidedly downtown M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, it made sense to put them next to each other with a giant parking lot in between. They sit just blocks from the city’s Inner Harbor and the main business and tourism district, and there aren’t a lot of spaces to spare on game days. And because the outcome of the 2013 Super Bowl wasn’t known until February, Major League Baseball unwittingly scheduled the Orioles to play at home the night of Sept. 5–the same night, as it turned out, our Ravens will kick off the NFL season.
Two sports, two stadiums full of fans, one parking lot. No go. The Orioles held their ground and refused to move or reschedule their game, the scales tipped, and the Ravens were sent to Denver for their opener, leaving many football fans more than a little irritated (I haven’t watched or tracked an Orioles game all season, but I digress).
I’ll be wearing my purple and yelling at the TV instead of tailgating on Thursday, along with thousands of my fellow Marylanders. If you ask us that day, I guarantee everyone will agree: Parking Matters®.