The Ravens and M&T Bank first came together in 2003, developing a partnership based on financial and charitable support, and a desire to establish an even stronger foothold in the community.
Feeling that the agreement has been mutually beneficial, both sides wanted to make sure it continued in the foreseeable future. The Ravens and the M&T Bank announced Wednesday they have agreed to a 10-year, $60 million extension of their partnership, which includes the naming rights for the downtown football stadium and various community endeavors.
When the original 15-year pact expires in 2018, the new deal will kick in and be in place through 2027.
"It was a game changer for us when we entered into that agreement in 2003 and it's been a wonderful partnership with them," Ravens team president Dick Cass said. "The reason our partnership has been so strong is we share values. We want to be successful off the field or in the financial arena in their case. But we also want to have a major impact on our community. We have done a lot of projects together and over the next 14 years — because we have four years left on the current agreement and 10 new ones — we're going to do a lot more together in this community to try to make this community a better place to live and a better place to work."
The announcement was made during a news conference at M&T Bank Stadium that was attended by team, stadium and M&T Bank officials, Ravens' cheerleaders, the team's marching band and select student and community groups.
Another key component of the deal is the establishment of a Judith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and Family Education Center, which will provide services for at-risk children under age five and their families. The "Judy Center" will be housed at a Cherry Hill elementary school and be the result of a $600,000 pledge by the Ravens and M&T Bank.
"When we did this announcement 11 years ago, we made a visible, permanent commitment to the city. Our commitment to this community hasn't changed in those 11 years and we think the extension through 2027 just reinforces our commitment to this market," said Augie Chiasera, a senior vice president at M&T Bank and the president of the bank's Greater Baltimore/Chesapeake region.
"The community pieces are huge. Last year alone, our employees dedicated 11,000 hours to community efforts. We've donated in excess of $30 million to charity causes here in the Baltimore community over the past 10 years. Look, those things make a difference. I live here, my daughters were born here. This place needs to be successful."
M&T, which is an abbreviation of Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company, was founded in 1856. At the time of the initial stadium rights deal in 2003, executives of the Buffalo, N.Y.-based bank were hoping to expand its profile in the Chesapeake region.
As of June 2013, M&T Bank was the 31st largest bank holding company with over $85 billion assets, according to the United States Federal Reserve system's information center.
"They were new to Baltimore and it enabled them to be established in Baltimore," Cass said. "It was a very attractive deal for them and to continue to renew it, I think, is a vote of confidence in us that it has worked for them. This is a naming rights deal that has really worked and that's because … there's a lot more to it than just putting their name on the stadium."
M&T Bank Stadium was the third name for the $226 million, taxpayer-financed facility, which opened in 1996. Originally known as "Ravens Stadium," it was renamed PSINet Stadium in 1999. However, the partnership between the Ravens and PSINet dissolved in 2002 when the Internet service provider went bankrupt.
The Ravens had to buy back the naming rights, which they originally acquired from the state for $10 million, back from bankruptcy court.
The initial agreement with M&T Bank paid the Ravens $5 million annually and at the time, was one of the five most lucrative stadium naming deals in the NFL. Since then, teams like the New York Giants and New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have agreed to stadium rights deals that reportedly paid them well in access of $10 million annually.
However, the latest agreement for the Ravens certainly is among the biggest of its kind for teams in similar market sizes.
"It's meant a lot. It's the largest financial local partner that we have," Cass said. "To find a company like M&T Bank, a first-rate company, to be on our stadium was an enormous benefit to us. It provides the kind of money that we need to make renovations to the stadium. It's all part of the financial picture for us — an important part."