Ravens will set table for tailgating fans All 5,000 spaces accessible; Lot H will include extras; Stadium watch


When the Ravens' downtown stadium opens, there will be more traditional, pre-game tailgating than ever, but part of it will come with a twist: instead of fans having to haul their grills and hamburgers to one of the lots, the Ravens will bring tailgating to them.

All of the 5,000 parking spaces controlled by the Ravens and the Maryland Stadium Authority will be tailgating-accessible and will be open four hours before game time.

Those spaces include not only those lots between Oriole Park and the new stadium, but also adjacent lots off Russell Street and I-395. The cost of the spaces will be $15 per game and $150 for the entire season, the same price as last year at Memorial Stadium.

The Ravens also have created a specialized Tailgating Zone in Lot H, with holders of permanent-seat licenses having first crack at the spaces there. The lot is east of the stadium, in the old Hammerjacks parking lot beneath I-395.

This specialty lot will have slightly more than 1,000 parking spaces and will offer a variety of activities. Also, the stadium concessionaire, Fine Host, will serve food there. The Ravens are accepting applications for spaces on a first-come, first-served basis. They will cost $20 for a game pass or $200 for a season pass.

Charlie McNair, Fine Host's district manager, said the company has not yet decided what foods will be served at the Tailgating Zone. Fine Host has successfully implemented tailgating tents at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, he said.

"We definitely want to have some type of exhibition-type cooking, whether it is pit beef or something like that," McNair said. "To be successful, you need a little flash, smoke and smell and, hopefully, that will bring in customers and then repeat customers."

The Ravens Marching Band will also practice at the lot. The team is working on setting up interactive football games and piping sound to the lot so fans can listen to the Ravens' pre-game radio show.

The number of spaces designated for tailgating will rise from the 800 available before Ravens games last year at the Eastern High School lot across 33rd Street from Memorial Stadium. In 1996, the Ravens' first year in Baltimore, tailgating was not allowed at that lot.

"Our fans are avid, rabid tailgaters," said David Cope, the team's vice president of marketing and sales. "As far back as two years ago, we realized how much we needed to push tailgating. And especially since we had it last year, we wanted to give them something a little better at the new stadium."

Fans not parking in Lot H still will be welcome in the Tailgating Zone.

"We anticipated that several people who will park in the regular lots are ones who own suites and skyboxes, and wouldn't necessarily be interested in the tailgating scene," Cope said. "That's why we created this designated Tailgating Zone. But every one of the 5,000 spaces is tailgateable."

When the Ravens played at Memorial Stadium, tailgating was limited because of the lots' proximity to residential neighborhoods, which is generally not the case at Camden Yards.

North of the new stadium, near the Gate A entrance, the Ravens are creating a Hospitality Village, for groups from 30 to 90. Prices will range from $3,750 a game for a group of 30 to $11,250 for a group of 90. For that price, each person in the group will receive a game ticket, game program, parking pass and an all-you-can-eat menu. The village will open 2 1/2 hours before kickoff.

"The Hospitality Village was started as a 'tweener' opportunity for groups of fans or companies who didn't buy a skybox suite, but want to be more involved than just a having a game ticket," Cope said.

The village will have the capability of holding 26 tents.

The Ravens also will offer what they're calling the "fifth quarter." Fans will be able to remain after the game and watch the first half of late games on the stadium's scoreboard. There will be no charge.

"This will extend the game to make it a full, game-day experience," Cope said. "Also, people will have less stress as far as traffic. Instead of 70,000 people leaving at once, it will be spread over a few hours."

Pub Date: 7/07/98

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