"We’re seriously considering a price increase, but we won’t announce what we’re going to do until probably the end of January or early February," said Ravens president Dick Cass. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Though owner Steve Bisciotti noticed empty seats during a season in which his team missed the playoffs for the third time in four years, the Ravens are considering raising ticket prices at M&T Bank Stadium for the 2017 campaign.
A final announcement is not expected until later this month or in early February, but a price increase would mark the first hike since the organization raised prices after it won the Super Bowl to cap the 2012 season. Team president Dick Cass pointed out that a price increase has occurred just once in the last eight years.
"Also since we last raised prices, we've spent about $45 million improving the stadium and over the next 2½ years, we're going to spend an additional $120 million, and that will include putting in some escalators and elevators to the top level, which will make a lot of our PSL holders up there happy," he said during the franchise's annual season review at its training facility in Owings Mills. "So we're seriously considering a price increase."
The average ticket for a Ravens game in 2016 was $112.11, which – according to the Team Marketing Report – is the seventh most expensive in the NFL.
Despite weekly sellouts, Ravens fan attendance lagged this season. Fans of the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins were a visible presence at games on Oct. 2 and 9, respectively, and when the Philadelphia Eagles visited on Dec. 18, quite a few seats were empty.
While acknowledging that he has noticed the change of the environment in the stadium, owner Steve Bisciotti disputed the idea that it has to do with the team's recent lack of success.
"I'm always concerned," he said. "I said apathy is the worst emotion in the past. There's a lot more disappointment and anger than apathy. So I don't think we're at a critical stage there. But the fact that our renewals have always – good times and bad – even back in the '04, '05, '06 area, our renewals are always in the 97½ to 99 percent, and then we have other people willing to buy those PSLs. So we've kind of been through the same slump. Let's face it, you talk about people moving out of town and people divorcing and giving up their tickets. So we've never seen the fluctuations based on our success."
Help wanted: Coach John Harbaugh said he is currently interviewing for the vacant quarterbacks coach job, and the candidates include one internal option as well as coaches at the NCAA and NFL levels.
Harbaugh said whoever is hired for the role will defer to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in terms of being the primary communicator with quarterback Joe Flacco.
"You don't want a bunch of voices, I don't believe, talking to your quarterback," Harbaugh said. "You don't want him to hear a lot of different ways of doing things. You want it to be straightforward, and when the quarterback and play caller are on the same page, you're a lot farther down the road. The most important relationship is between Marty Mornhinweg and Joe Flacco, in terms of how we build this pass offense and the offense generally and including his fundamentals and his technique. The quarterback coach will be the guy to execute that."
Mornhinweg, who was Flacco's quarterbacks coach until he replaced former offensive coordinator Marc Trestman on Oct. 10, is also involved in the interview process, according to Harbaugh
"We're going to try to bring the best guy in here that fits what we're trying to accomplish," Harbaugh said. "It's got to be a guy that understands where we're going offensively and how our concepts work, and it's got to be a guy that I think can really relate to Joe in a good way to help him and really do a great job with him on the field in terms of the technique stuff."
End zone: Bisciotti said he still harbors a glimmer of hope that wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. could return to the team, even though Smith already notified the league he will retire. "I haven't given up hope that Steve Smith is going to come walking in here in September because he's probably not coming in August," Bisciotti said, referring to training camp. "But we'll see about that character. I haven't counted him out."
… Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs finished the season as the defense's leader in sacks with eight, but turned 34 this past October while battling a torn left biceps and an elbow injury. Still, Newsome said front-office executives and coaches agree that they want Suggs to return. "'Sizz' brings another element — not only with his performance on the field, but with his leadership," Newsome said, referring to Suggs' nickname. "As [defensive coordinator] Dean [Pees] said, when Sizz is at practice, practice is different. When Sizz is not, then it's different. You're talking about a guy that played with two injuries at the end of the year. He had the bicep, and he had the elbow, and he was still out there giving 100 percent. He's had some great discussions with John about what his plans are for this offseason. But we expect him to be back."
… Bisciotti joked that he thinks about selling the team after losses and after seasons that don't end in Super Bowl titles, but he acknowledged that he enjoys being part of the organization too much to walk away from it at this point. "I just had my second grandbaby," he said. "You bounce him on your knee a little bit, and you play golf. And you go to the gym, which I hate. This consumes a lot of my life, and I really like doing it, and I really like doing it with these guys."