Md. National Guard expands its Baltimore Ravens deal to include practice jerseys

After saying last season they could afford to be picky, the Baltimore Ravens have made their selection — the Maryland National Guard gets to be the first entity in Baltimore to take advantage of the NFL’s new rule allowing sponsorship patches on practice jerseys.

The Guard is paying a total of about $350,000 this year as part of an expansion of its sponsorship of the team, according to the Guard’s public affairs office. The cost is being split equally between the Maryland National Guard and the national organization.

The expansion in sponsorship includes the Maryland National Guard logo on Ravens practice jerseys, a tent at training camp and Ravens home games and more signage at M&T Bank Stadium.

Reserving Ravens tickets early, for a price

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

Want a guaranteed seat to watch the Ravens take on the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints or division rival Pittsburgh Steelers this season at M&T Bank Stadium?

You can grab one today — as long as you’re willing to pay extra.

The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to a one-year sponsorship deal with OptionIt, a ticket broker that sells the rights (or options) to buy face value, single-game tickets. The cost of an option to reserve tickets for Ravens home games on OptionIt’s Web site ranged Friday from $17 per seat for Tampa Bay Buccaneers tickets to $68 per seat for Steelers tickets.

The company’s promoters say what used to be the luxury of Baltimore Ravens season ticket holders — or those fast enough to snatch up the 6,000 face value tickets the Ravens sell before the season — is now available to anyone.

Owner says Ravens will not be hurt by a non-salary capped year

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer 

From left, Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass, owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager/Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh speak to the media Wednesday during the team’s end-of-season news conference.Facing the uncertainty of a non-salary-capped season, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said the team’s business is in good health and he is looking forward to the challenges next year will bring.

At the team’s season-ending news conference, Bisciotti said the team is prepared financially for a non-salary capped season in 2010 as the National Football League’s players and owners are still trying to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement. The current agreement expires after the 2010 season.

According to the current agreement, if a new CBA is not reached by this March, the salary cap system will not be in place for 2010. It’s a scenario Bisciotti said many owners have been preparing for and assume will happen.

And the Ravens are in a position to spend money, he said.

Oher’s new multi-year deal is with AirTran

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

The face of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher will be coming to a billboard near you this summer as the rookie player has signed his first major endorsement deal.

AirTran Airways has reached a multi-year agreement with Oher, who finished second in the running for The Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The terms of the deal, announced Tuesday by AirTran, were not disclosed.

“AirTran is very involved in the communities we serve, and to partner with someone like Michael Oher, who’s such an inspiration on and off the field, is a match made in heaven,” said AirTran spokesman Christopher White.

Ravens fans ponder making the playoff road trip

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer 

Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, right, celebrates with linebacker Ray Lewis, center, and safety Ed Reed after Ellerbe intercepted Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell in the third quarter of Sunday’s game.Despite the relatively easy logistics of making the trip from Baltimore to Foxboro, Mass., Ravens fans this year may not be traveling in the same hordes as they did for last year’s first-round NFL playoff matchup.

After all, why sit for hours in the cold to watch your team try to steal one on the road from an opponent it has never beaten before?

“I think the Ravens can expect to see but a fraction of the fans that were there last year,” said Tony Lombardi, founder of the blog ProFootball24×7 and co-host of a Ravens talk show on Baltimore’s Fox Sports Radio (WVIE-AM), of the Ravens’ game against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Last year, thousands of Ravens fans traveled first to Miami, then Nashville, Tenn., and finally bitter rival Pittsburgh as the Ravens advanced in the playoffs.

That year was a surprise gift for fans. In the face of low expectations, the team, its rookie quarterback and first-year coach gave fans a run for their money before losing to the Steelers in the AFC Championship — one game shy of the Super Bowl.

But this year’s expectations were higher. And with the economy still slow, fans are more hesitant about their purchases.

Sports Legends Museum sales up

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

Thanks to a little help from its friends, Baltimore’s Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards posted a nearly 30 percent increase in its combined store sales and admissions revenue in 2009.
The museum, home of the Ravens and Orioles team store, increased its store and admissions revenue by more than $200,000 to $920,000 for the 2009 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.
It’s the biggest year-over-year increase for the Baltimore sports history and memorabilia museum since it opened in 2005.
Michael Gibbons, executive director of the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation Inc., which operates the museum, said most of the revenue boost came from increased store sales in 2009, while the attendance total inched up about 1.5 percent.

Cass works to maximize the Ravens

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

It’s been an unprecedented year for the National Football League.

Thanks to a national recession, the year for some teams has been marked by television blackouts, empty suites and undersold stadiums.

But not for the Baltimore Ravens. It was a tight squeeze, said Ravens President Dick Cass, but the team sold its last suite the day before it hosted its first game. And despite raising ticket prices this year when many other teams did not — Cass called that one a “painful” decision — M&T Bank Stadium quickly sold out for the season, as it has since it opened in 1998.

Despite recent dip, Ravens PSLs have been a good investment

September 10, 2009 8:22 PM
The Ravens have sold out every regular season game in Baltimore — this season included — since the franchise arrived from Cleveland in 1996.Between October 2007 and October 2008, the stock market lost more than 37 percent of its value. Investment funds were crushed and stock portfolios were shadows of their former selves.

Also in October 2008, a pair of Permanent Seat Licenses in a lower-level end zone section at M&T Bank Stadium sold for $3,550 each — about 8 percent more than the price for comparable seats sold the previous year.

“We don’t have a dollar invested in the stock market,” said Pat Smart, a contractor who has been buying and selling seat licenses for the last five years with his wife. “In a good year at any time we’ll have close to $150,000 invested in PSLs. We might have broken even a few years but we have never lost a dollar.”

Over the last year, however, the recession has taken its toll on the open market for permanent seat licenses at M&T Bank Stadium: The average price for a Baltimore Ravens PSL fell from $4,200 in 2008 to $3,400 this season, according to a Forbes team valuation.

In 2010, see TDs in HD at M&T

Daily Record Business Writer
July 17, 2009 7:42 PM

By next football season, Ravens fans will be able to enjoy instant replays and team videos in high definition at M&T Bank Stadium as the stadium’s landlord has started the search for a contractor to build Proposals to replace the SmartVision screens at M&T Bank Stadium are due to the Maryland Stadium Authority by the end of July.two new video boards.

This month, the Maryland Stadium Authority issued a Request for Proposals to replace the video boards at the stadium and hosted a meeting for applicant contractors last week. The proposals are due at the end of the month and the work would begin immediately following the 2009 season, according to Roy Sommerhof, vice president of stadium operations.

According to the RFP, the video board should be finished by May 2010 and testing the new board with the new control room will take place during that summer to be ready in time for the first regular season home game next year.

The stadium authority recently finished overseeing a $9.1 million high definition video board and control room project at its neighboring property, Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Ravens to raise ticket prices by $5 to $15

Daily Record Business Writer
February 6, 2009 4:12 PM

Despite the recession, the Ravens will raise ticket prices by $5 to $15 per game next year.

A letter was sent to season-ticket holders Thursday to notify them of the changes, according to Kevin Byrne, senior vice president of community and public relations. The Ravens’ policy is to raise prices every two years, although Byrne said consumers’ tight budgets were considered when making the decision this year.

“It’s never done willy-nilly; it’s done with a lot of thought, and you work from a budget and the need for it,” he said Friday. “It’s almost directly related to player costs and the cost of doing business. But in this economy, the decision [to raise prices] was a little slower.”

Some seats in the upper deck will be raised by $5 while other upper-deck seats and most in the lower bowl of the stadium will increase by $10. Club seats and lower-level midfield seats — locations in the highest demand — will increase by $15 per game, said Byrne.

Flacco, others cashing in as Ravens keep Super Bowl dreams alive

Daily Record Business Writer
January 12, 2009 7:06 PM

Try as he might to maintain his “Joe Cool” composure, Ravens quarterback sensation Joe Flacco is not just your average Joe anymore.

From “I [heart] Joe” T-shirts to buying the Web site “JoeTheQuarterback.com” to the Ravens’ slogan “Wacko for Flacco,” opportunists in the Baltimore region are cashing in on the rookie’s rise to fame as he heads the team’s bid for Super Bowl XLIII.

“He’s a week away from being Elvis,” said Joe Linta, Flacco’s agent and president of Connecticut-based JL Sports.

Linta and Flacco have partnered with Alumni Management Group, a Pikesville public relations agency that also represents Ravens Ray Lewis and Troy Smith, to handle Flacco’s local marketing opportunities. And according to AMG President Seth Katz, interested parties have been chomping at the bit in the last several weeks.

“We have been inundated with opportunities,” Katz said. “We look to treat everyone as a partner between Team Flacco, and while I don’t want to suggest we were rewarding someone who came to us earlier, if they approached us a couple months ago they would have bought into Team Flacco at the ground floor. Whereas now it’s Johnny-come-lately.”

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.

Ravens play it low-key marketing Flacco

Daily Record Business Writer
September 28, 2008 8:13 PM

As the Ravens prepare for their only Monday night game of the season, the nation will get its first glimpse at the player who has had Baltimore fans buzzing at water coolers for the past three weeks.

But after the on-the-field play, the analysts’ commentary and the post-game interviews, the rest of the country will be pretty much caught up with Ravens fans on all they’ve seen — so far — of their rookie starting under center.

“We really are dying for a quarterback,” said Mike Firestine, author of the blog Baltimore Sports Post, on Joe Flacco. “I want to see more of him... But I think that, in time, we’ll get to know him and he can really latch on to the team.”

The Ravens say they are keeping a low public profile with Flacco, a 22-year-old first round draft pick who was virtually unknown outside of his Division 1-AA University of Delaware a year-and-a-half ago. He and fellow rookies Ray Rice and Tom Zbikowski are the faces of the Ravens Rookies Kids Club, and Flacco made an appearance for the Special Olympics Maryland this summer, but otherwise his exposure to fans has been limited to games and interviews.

“We are letting Joe Flacco get comfortable in his role before throwing him into a situation in the community that is not his own, as of yet,” Melanie C. LeGrande, community relations manager for the team, said in an e-mail.