Thousands of Ravens fans expected to make trip to Nashville

Daily Record Business Writer
January 5, 2009 7:18 PM

For Baltimore Ravens fans who couldn’t get to Miami last weekend, one thing became clear after their team beat the Dolphins Sunday to earn a trip to the second round of the National Football League playoffs: It’s easier — and cheaper — to get to Nashville.

The Ravens will play the Tennessee Titans Saturday afternoon, and for many fans, that means road trip.

“That thought entered my mind the week before when we knew we couldn’t get to Miami,” said Rick Williams, 48, a season ticket holder for all of the Ravens’ 13 years in Baltimore. “Tennessee is a doable drive ... and I booked my [game] tickets online right before the game ended Sunday.”

Like thousands of other fans, Williams plans on driving the 11 to 12 hours with a group of family and friends to Nashville for Saturday’s match-up, and spending about $300 to $400 per person for tickets, transportation and lodging. Trip organizers say they expect more Ravens fans to travel to Nashville than were in Miami because many people in Baltimore either couldn’t afford or find a return flight, and the drive is much shorter.

Nestor Aparicio, owner of the WNST-AM radio station, is running a bus trip to Nashville that includes game tickets, a hotel room and tailgate parties. As of Monday evening, he had sold out nearly two bus loads, or 110 tickets.

“We took 217 people to Nashville [for the] 2001 playoffs and had boxed out parts of four different airplanes; we’re hoping to recreate that,” said Aparicio, who has been putting game travel packages together since the team’s first season here.

Tickets range from $550 to $700 for the bus package, whereas the cost of a weekend flight starts at approximately $400, Aparicio noted. The high cost of airfare kept Cole Rubin, founder of the fan travel company, from blocking off space on flights to Nashville as part of his travel package.

Rubin, who went through a broker to buy 80 tickets, is offering a similar hotel, ticket and party package for the weekend.

Aparicio noted that about 6,000 Ravens fans traveled to Nashville for a playoff game eight years ago, the season Baltimore eventually won the Super Bowl title. He and others expect more to make it this time.

“There was a lot of pent-up demand after going to the game in South Florida proved to be cost prohibitive,” said Tony Lombardi, founder of the blog ProFootball24x7 and co-host of a Ravens talk show on Baltimore’s Fox Sports Radio, who estimates as many as 8,000 Ravens fans could be in Nashville this weekend.

“Given where the economy is and it’s the tail end of holiday season
where people probably spent more than they should have, [their] willingness to
spend money on hotels, tickets, food and drink — it’s a statement to the level of fanhood and how crazy this town is about the team,” Lombardi said.

And while the team benefits from the emotional support...

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