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Ravens change game plan by tying single-game ticket sales to Thursday's schedule release

The Ravens are updating their ticketing game plan, putting single-game seats up for sale when the NFL schedule is released Thursday night — instead of months later — to try to tap into fans' anticipation and better compete with secondary ticket brokers.

"It's a change in the business model a little bit,' said Baker Koppelman, the team's senior vice president of ticket sales and operations. "We're adapting to the world that is in front of us."

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The secondary ticket market "has really become a significant thing in the past few years," Koppelman said. "We're competing with it. If you're going to compete with something, you want to compete from start to finish."

Last year, individual-game tickets — which range from $80 to $430 — did not go on sale until June. Koppelman said the shift to what he called "the highest demand day of the year" is not the result of "any negativity or any panic."

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Baker Koppelman grew up a passionate Baltimore sports fan. Now, he taps that same wellspring of loyalty as the Ravens' senior vice president of ticket sales.

The Ravens finished 9-7 last season, missing the playoffs for the third straight year.

The club said season-ticket renewals are down nearly 5 percent compared with this time a year ago. The renewal deadline is June 1.

"We've been 99 percent or higher [in renewals] for at least 15 years in a row," Koppelman said. "If we're not there, we're going to be close. There are plenty of people who choose to pay at the very end."

The league schedule is to be released on the NFL Network at 8 p.m. Thursday. The names of each team's opponents are already known, but the dates of each specific matchups have not been released. The Ravens said tickets will be available at 8 — or immediately after — at baltimoreravens.com/tickets.

Teams on Baltimore's home schedule are the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ravens are advertising tickets for ‘sold-out’ games, adjusting to a new NFL reality. That's because so many fans have put their tickets back into the club's official resale online market, another sign of the troubles the NFL faces amid anthem protests, injuries, concussion worries and spotty play.

NFL teams' tickets are available each year on a number of online sites not connected to the league. The league established the NFL Ticket Exchange in 2011 to compete with third-party resellers and give teams a slice of the resale pie.

"Getting ahead of the secondary market is a smart idea," said T.J. Brightman, president of A. Bright Idea, a public relations and marketing firm with offices in Bel Air and California. "The other major factor is whether attendance around the league will see a downturn in 2018 following widespread criticism of the NFL last year."

About a dozen teams, including the Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs, are also selling single-game tickets Thursday or soon after — more teams than in years past.

The NFL endured a stormy year that included injuries to star players and fan discontent over players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequity and police brutality.

The Ravens acknowledged that there were a noticeably higher number of no-shows at M&T Bank Stadium and said the organization was reaching out to many fans about player protests and "redoubling the efforts of both the organization and our players to make the Baltimore area a better community."

Brightman said the player protests mostly began affecting attendance "later in the fall. I suspect the Ravens like other teams will want to get out in front early and create the greatest impact not knowing what lies ahead."

Koppelman said selling some tickets early was not part of the effort to curb no-shows.

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"Let's get the ticket sold and we'll plug away at initiatives to get people to show up. Put a product on the field that people are enjoying," he said.

The Ravens declined to say how many individual-game tickets will be available Thursday. The season-ticket base accounts for about 65,500 of the 71,000 seats in the stadium.

"We're going to put as many out as we can tomorrow night," Koppelman said. "There will be other opportunities down the road."

NFL schedule release

Thursday, 8 p.m.

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