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Ravens to raise ticket prices at M&T Bank Stadium this season

Fresh off their second Super Bowl title, the Ravens will raise ticket prices at M&T Bank Stadium for the 2013-14 season, their first increase in four years and their sixth since their downtown stadium opened in 1998.

When season ticket holders get their renewal letters this week, they’ll see an average increase of 10 percent per ticket in the seating bowl area, according to Kevin Byrne, the Ravens senior vice president for public and community relations. That does not include club or suite level seats, which will likely see a smaller increase from last season.

Tickets will now range from $62 to $140 for all seats not in the club or suite level. Game-day parking in the team’s 4,800 controlled spots also will go up from $35 to $40 per car.

“We are thoughtful and detailed in our study of our ticket prices. We did a lot of research plus comparisons to other NFL teams, other events, and also most importantly, our budget,” Byrne said. “Our ticket price increase is always related to player cost. There’s always spending what is necessary to field a championship-caliber team.”

Byrne said that the revised prices will remain the same through the 2014-15 season, meaning there will be no increase next year.

The news comes a little more than two weeks after the Ravens completed a memorable season with a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, and at a time when the organization is accelerating plans for improvements at M&T Bank Stadium.

The plan will include some changes to the stadium’s concession areas along with other renovations. They will be done in two phases with the first phase being completed before the Ravens start their 2013-14 preseason schedule in August. Team and stadium officials will unveil those plans later this week.

From 2001 to 2009, the Ravens raised their ticket prices every other year with the last hike coming before the 2009 season when select seats went up anywhere from $5 to $15.

Because of a difficult economy and the uncertainty of a potential lockout, team officials broke the trend in 2011, opting to keep the ticket prices the same. In announcing last February that no price changes would be made for a third consecutive season, the organization cited already competitive prices and the economy.

Byrne said that the latest increase was in the works before the Ravens’ Super Bowl run, and it was decided on after a series of studies and comparisons with other NFL franchises.

“This is not related to the Super Bowl. It had been planned. It was planned last year when we didn’t increase [prices] when we thought we would,” Byrne said. “With the price increase, we expect to be in the top third in the league. We have been out of the top third the last couple of years. We’d like to stay competitive with the top third.”

Several Ravens’ season ticket holders said Tuesday that they were anticipating a ticket increase after the prices stayed the same three straight seasons and with the team’s success this year.

“I felt like they gave us a break last year,” said Justin Cosgrove, a 30-year Locust Point resident who owns five personal seat licenses at M&T Bank Stadium. “My Dad has had these tickets since 2006 and they would go up every other year. I know [the raise] was coming. “

Cosgrove got his ticket invoice in the mail Tuesday and he said that the prices went up $70 per seat for the entire season, an increase that he could accept.

Micah Higgins, a 30-year-old who goes to Ravens’ home games with a group of eight, is from Washington Redskins’ country in Northern Virginia. He said his seats last year in section 109 were $90 face value and a 10-percent increase wasn’t enough to give him second thoughts about renewing.

“Our same seats in [the Redskins’ FedEx Field] are probably $25 more,” he said. “Compared to the quality of football, I’d rather pay more for a Ravens’ game than any Skins’ game. … Everybody is hurting for a little bit of money right now but it comes with the territory. It’s not a reason to give up my tickets, that’s for sure.”

Dennis Coates, an economics professor at UMBC, said that the timing of the news probably makes Ravens’ fans, still basking in the Super Bowl victory, more willing to accept the increase. He also pointed out that a 10-percent raise pales in comparison to what other franchises have done, particularly after a new stadium is built.

“When stadiums open, we’re talking 20-percent, 30-percent increases across the board,” Coates said. “In the grand scheme of ticket price changes, I’m not sure that a 10 percent is particularly a big one. But it doesn’t make it any easier for the average fan to pay an extra 10 percent. We’re still in a relatively sluggish economy and there are a lot of people whose income hasn’t changed a whole lot.”

The Ravens aren’t the only team to go down this road. The Green Bay Packers, one of the league’s marquee franchises, announced Tuesday that their tickets for 2013-14 will go up by an average of $2 to $5 per seat. According to last September’s Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index, which annually calculates ticket prices, nine NFL teams raised ticket prices by at least one percent before the 2011-12 season, and 10 teams did it before the start of the 2012-13 campaign.

Teams traditionally don’t release exact ticket figures so there is some discrepancy to where certain teams rank in terms of prices, but according to the report, the Ravens ranked sixth in the NFL last year with an average ticket price of $91.92. That trailed the New York Jets ($117.94), New England Patriots ($117.84), New York Giants ($111.69), Chicago Bears ($110.91) and Dallas Cowboys ($110.20). The report stated that the average ticket price for an NFL game was $78.38.

Still, the Ravens have sold out every game at M&T Bank Stadium and they maintain a 3,000-person waiting list for season tickets. The team has also enjoyed one of the best home-field advantages in the sport with a regular-season record of 33-7 at M&T Bank Stadium since 2008.

The Ravens’ 2013-14 home schedule features their usual divisional matchups against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, and games against four other teams that made the playoffs this past season: the Patriots, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. They will also play host to Rex Ryan’s New York Jets.

Because of their status as reigning Super Bowl champs, the Ravens will host the NFL’s regular-season opener on Thursday, Sept. 5 against an opponent yet to be named. The dates and times of the games won’t be official until the NFL unveils the schedule in mid-to-late April.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiecsun

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