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Super Bowl champion Ravens forced to open season on road

Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass looks on during the NFL's Super Bowl XLVII football practice in New Orleans, Louisiana January 30, 2013
Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass looks on during the NFL's Super Bowl XLVII football practice in New Orleans, Louisiana January 30, 2013

(Reuters) - The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens have been forced to open their 2013 National Football League (NFL) season on the road due to a scheduling conflict with the local Major League Baseball (MLB) team.

For the past decade, each NFL season has officially started with the defending Super Bowl champions playing at home.

The 2013 NFL season will open on Thursday, September 5 but the Ravens will have to play away from home because the Baltimore Orioles, the city's MLB team, are scheduled to play at home that same night against the Chicago White Sox.

The two teams' stadiums are adjacent to each other and they share parking lots, making it logistically difficult for both to play at the same time.

Ravens President Dick Cass said the Orioles agreed to start their game earlier to create a "double-header" and the Ravens had the option of moving their game to Wednesday or Sunday but it was agreed the best solution was for the Ravens to play on the road.

"After thorough discussions among the Orioles, the NFL and the Ravens, it became clear that holding both an Orioles' game and the Ravens' regular season opener on the same day would create logistical situations that would cause serious issues for the city of Baltimore, and fans for both teams," Cass said in a statement on Friday.

"The Ravens greatly appreciate the willingness of the Orioles to adjust the start of their game in an effort to make this sports spectacular happen. But, in the end, anticipated problems with parking, rush-hour traffic, plus crowd and car congestion around Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium, will keep the doubleheader from taking place."

The Orioles also released a statement, thanking all parties for trying to find a solution.

"The Orioles have great respect for the Super Bowl champion Ravens and thank Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, and the White Sox for doing everything possible to work with us to explore all options to reschedule the September 5 game," the statement said.

The NFL said it was still to determine where the season opener would be played.

(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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