In a letter that will reach some fans as early as today, the Ravens are notifying season-ticket holders the prices of their seats will increase $5 to $15 per ticket for the 2009 season.
The majority of seats in the bowl of the stadium will increase by $10, and some upper-deck seats will go up by $5. The biggest bump of $15 is for some club seats and lower-level seating around midfield, which are the most sought-after tickets at M&T; Bank Stadium.
In the letter, which was obtained by The Baltimore Sun yesterday, the Ravens say they need their average ticket price to be in the top third of the NFL to stay competitive.
The Ravens, who have increased ticket prices every other season since 2001, said the evaluation process was "very thoughtful and detailed."
"We understand that we are in a down economy, but to change our every-other-year philosophy would likely mean even greater increases in future years," said Baker Koppelman, the Ravens' vice president of ticket operations. "The economy is only one of many factors, but ultimately our goal is to provide a product that fans can take pride in. To do that, we must remain financially competitive with other teams."
This is the fifth price increase since the downtown stadium opened in 1998 and the first since after the 2006 season. Prices were locked from 1998 to 2000.
When 25 NFL teams increased their ticket prices last season and the Ravens did not, team officials said the Ravens dropped out of the top tier of teams.
According to the Ravens, player costs have grown 15 percent since the last ticket increase.
The Ravens face a strong challenge when free agency begins at the end of this month. Five starters are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents: linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott; center Jason Brown; and safety Jim Leonhard.
"We are committed to spending what is necessary to field a championship team," Koppelman said. "This ticket price increase will help us achieve that goal."
The increase will also help with stadium improvements. The Ravens are looking to upgrade their Smartvision boards in the "near future" and are in the process of completing a $4 million club-level improvement project.
"Enhancing fan experience has always been a top priority," Koppelman said.
There has been a strong demand for tickets since the Ravens relocated to Baltimore in 1996. Every game in franchise history has been sold out, and there is a waiting list of 3,000 for permanent seat licenses.
The Ravens announced they have "committed" to not increasing prices next season.
Said Koppelman: "We think it is important for fans to know a year out whether prices will increase so they will not have to worry over the potential of price increases after each season."