Crab cakes and football
Ravens fans cheer from comfort of their own stadium
Updated: Monday January 15, 2001 3:04 AM
BALTIMORE (AP) -- They came, they saw and their Baltimore Ravens conquered.
A crowd of 9,500 die-hard fans flocked to PSINet Stadium on Sunday to watch the Ravens beat the Oakland Raiders 16-3 and advance to Super Bowl XXXV, according to Roy Sommerhoff, the Ravens' director of ticket sales.
Sommerhoff said he did not know if the team would open the stadium for fans again for the Super Bowl on Jan. 28.
"That's something we're going to have to work out with the Maryland Stadium Authority," he said.
Brian Gronofsky, 42, and his son Joe, 15, painted their faces half purple and half black.
"I usually watch the game at home or in a bar near my home," Gronofsky said. "But not this time. I had to be out here with the real fans."
After waiting three decades to see a Baltimore football team reach the Super Bowl, Ravens fans were unwilling to let the party end Sunday night.
Hours after the Ravens earned a berth in the Super Bowl with a 16-3 win against the Oakland Raiders, Baltimoreans were still running through streets near the Inner Harbor, waving their hands and screaming while passing motorists honked in support.
With temperatures dipping into the 30s, a few of the 5,000 fans on the club level and a smattering on the lower deck ventured outside to watch the game on the stadium's wide, high-definition SmartVision screens.
The rest turned the stadium's posh club level into a giant sports bar, with the band Blue Water Groove and several radio stations providing live pregame and halftime entertainment
Fans were ready to spend their money too. Robert Dunlap, 40, manager of the Ravens team store on the lower level, said his sales were comparable to those on a game day with a full stadium.
"On a regular game day, we do about $18,000 to $20,000," he said early in the second quarter. "Right now, we have about $10,000."
The stands took on a game-day atmosphere, with banners reading "Super Bowl XXXV, Ravens vs. Giants" and "Al Del Greco Support Group," referring to the Tennessee Titans kicker who missed three field goals in a divisional playoff loss to the Ravens.
By the time Trent Dilfer hit Shannon Sharpe with a 96-yard touchdown pass early in the second period, the place was rocking. When Tony Siragusa dealt a knockout blow to Raiders starting quarterback Rich Gannon, the fans were delirious. And when Jamie Sharper intercepted a Bobby Hoying pass to end the Raiders' final scoring threat, it was pandemonium, with the throng chanting "Su-per Bowl!, Su-per Bowl!"
"This is the ultimate, to celebrate a victory at the stadium, with the true Ravens fans," said Bruce Gross, 39, of Glen Burnie, who was decked out in purple and white face paint, a black wig and sunglasses, reminiscent of the rock group Kiss.
Indeed, the vaunted Raider Nation had nothing on this crowd. There were enough costumed freaks in the mob for the Ravens fans to claim at least their own state.
There was "Captain Defense," also known as Wes Henson, 50, of Waldorf, adorned in a captain's hat and pompom epaulets. Lou Ann House, 37, and her son Joshua, 12, adorned themselves in full black feathered capes, with Raven's head hats.
Tom Fenwick, 31, of Baltimore, provided comic relief for the crowd on the club level in his court jester outfit, a purple and gold cap and purple and gold bead around his neck. Fenwick said he holds season tickets and follows the team in person whenever he can.
"I do the road games too, but this one was just too expensive," he said. "But I'm mortgaging my house to go to the Super Bowl."
Soon after the game ended, fans started gathering at the team's Owings Mills training complex, ignoring a light drizzle that threatened to turn into a steady rain. Police estimated 5,000 would gather there, said Lt. Richard Landsman.
"That's based on the fact that 2,000 to 3,000 people showed up at the airport last week and 50 to 100 showed up here [last week]," Landsman said.
Among the first to arrive Sunday night were Lindsay Alperstein and Jim Hess, both 17, of Owings Mills. They each brought four friends, and Hess painted his Dodge Caravan like a homecoming float, dubbing it the "Ravenmobile."
"ESPN can talk crap about us all year, but look where we are," said Alperstein, who added that she and her friends planned to stay outside and cheer the team's arrival despite the rain.