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Ravens fans already are making Super Bowl travel plans as flights and hotels book up — and prices rise

For Marty Girch and many other confident Baltimore football fans, a Ravens Super Bowl appearance isn’t an “if.”

“When [the Ravens] go to the Super Bowl,” said Girch, stressing the first word, “we’ll probably drive down and hopefully get tickets.”

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With the most wins in the league, including one over the NFC’s top team, the Ravens are Super Bowl favorites. Presumptive NFL Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson and company’s franchise-record 14-win regular season — which they finished Sunday on a 12-game winning streak — have fans already eyeing flights to and hotel prices in Miami for the first weekend in February.

Fans’ plans for the weekend are as varied as the team’s unpredictable pistol-formation offense. Some will fly to Miami International or nearby Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airports. Others plan to take a few extra days off to make the 17-hour, 1,000-mile drive down Interstate 95 and back. Some say they’re already lining up tickets to see the Ravens play for the Lombardi Trophy in person, while others just want to tailgate in the Super Bowl atmosphere outside Hard Rock Stadium.

However they do it, most who go will spend thousands.

Southwest Airlines typically adds flights between the Super Bowl teams’ hometowns and the city where the game is being played once they’ve been determined, spokesman Dan Landson said. But the airline’s flights between BWI Marshall Airport to Fort Lauderdale for that weekend already were filling up this week, with many of the cheapest seats sold out, and prices for most of the remaining ones in the $500 range each way.

Ravens fan Marty Girch, who recently moved to Charleston, SC from Ellicott City, has attended every Ravens home game for ten years. He dresses as "King of the North" at every game. Girch said if the Ravens make the Super Bowl, "we will drive down to Miami for sure."
Ravens fan Marty Girch, who recently moved to Charleston, SC from Ellicott City, has attended every Ravens home game for ten years. He dresses as "King of the North" at every game. Girch said if the Ravens make the Super Bowl, "we will drive down to Miami for sure." (Amy Davis)

American Airlines, the largest carrier at Miami International, is offering round-trip flights from Baltimore/Washington International ranging from $544 to more than $1,000.

Most Miami-area hotels, recognizing the demand, are requiring guests to book three or four nights and are not offering refunds if their team gets eliminated from the playoffs, said Martin Spence, owner of Sportstours, a Florida-based sports travel agency. But many allow name changes on reservations, he said, which offers a chance for recouping an ill-fated investment.

“After this weekend, things are starting to heat up, as you can imagine," Spence said. “Hotel space is at a premium, if available.”

Sportstours sells tailored hotel and Super Bowl ticket packages to individual customers, groups, corporations and other travel agencies. Its least expensive option, a three-night package with Super Bowl tickets in the upper-level end zone, ranges from $2,500 to $3,500, depending on the hotel, Spence said.

That price range likely will increase as the big game nears, but it also could fall, depending on who wins in the playoffs. Teams from bigger markets, such as New York, generally bring more demand and more affluent fans willing to shell out top dollar for tickets and accommodations, Spence said.

“Those ticket packages will go up and down based on who actually makes it into the Super Bowl,” Spence added.

Holders of Ravens general and suite permanent seat licenses, or season tickets, will be entered into separate lotteries — one entry for each seat they own — for the chance to purchase a limited number of Super Bowl tickets, said Patrick Gleason, a team spokesman. The lottery will take place just before the AFC Championship game, and selected accounts will be notified by email.

Official NFL ticket packages range from $4,500, which includes a pregame party and NFL alumni appearances, to $20,250, which gets you seats on the 50-yard line, access to the pregame party inside the stadium and a chance to do snow angels in the confetti on the field after the game.

BMORE Around Town, a Baltimore tailgate and event planner, had 150 people on its wait list this week to put down refundable $312 deposits for its travel, lodging, party and Super Bowl ticket packages. The packages range from $1,995 to $8,495 per person, depending on a variety of factors, including how many people are in a group, how many nights they’ll be staying, and whether airfare and Super Bowl tickets are included.

“We have a lot of fun options set up and truly believe we will sell this out before the Ravens even clinch their hopeful Super Bowl ticket,” said Brian Snyder, BMORE Around Town’s owner.

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Girch, an Ellicott City resident for 25 years, kept his Ravens season tickets when he moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and flies back to Baltimore for home games. He dressed up as the “King of the North” — a reference to “Game of Thrones” and the Ravens’ AFC North division title — in a crown and a purple cape for Sunday’s game against the Steelers.

Girch and his wife, Tara, traveled to London to watch the Ravens play, but they couldn’t justify the price of attending the team’s first two Super Bowls, he said.

“This time, I’m in a position after selling my house,” he said. “We’re going."

Dante Watkins, 38, of West Baltimore, has been a Kansas City Chiefs fan since age 9. When the Ravens came to Baltimore six years later, he began rooting for the hometown team as well.

With Watkins’ two favorites entering the playoffs as the top seeds in the AFC, he’s been checking out flights and Airbnb options in Coconut Grove, a neighborhood on Miami’s south side. He’d be excited to see either team come home with Super Bowl rings.

“I’m planning to go whether it’s the Ravens or the Chiefs," he said. “If it’s the Ravens, it’s gonna be the home team, so it’s gonna be party time.”

Buddy Welsh will be part of a group of about 10 Ravens fans who plan to fly to Miami and go to the game.

A friend of a friend works with the team and is helping the group get tickets, said Welsh, 60, of Linthicum. He gives this year’s Ravens a 99.9% chance of making it through the AFC divisional and championship rounds to reach the Super Bowl.

“All we’ve got to do is take care of hotel room, the flight down, but we’ve got our tickets,” he said.

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For years, at the beginning of the season, Lori and Eric Fisher used to pay for airfare and a hotel room in whichever city was hosting the Super Bowl — just in case.

The Glen Burnie couple would cancel the reservations if the season didn’t go well, but they followed the Ravens to both of their Super Bowls, in Tampa in 2001 and in New Orleans in 2013, Lori Fisher said.

The Fishers don’t have a flight, a hotel room or Super Bowl tickets this year, she said. But if the Ravens make it, there’s a good chance they’ll drive down for the atmosphere alone.

“We can find someplace to stay," she said. “If we don’t get a ticket into the game, it doesn’t matter. ... We’ll figure out a way to get down there if we get to the Super Bowl.”

Those who can afford tickets and accommodations will be purchasing “a lifetime memory, something that you’ll never forget,” said Phil Laumann, a Ravens fan who drove 14 hours to Tampa to witness the Ravens’ victory over the New York Giants for their first Super Bowl win in 2001.

The 52-year-old, who lives in Pasadena, reminisced about “the most awesome experience, sports-wise, I’ve ever had,” as he tailgated outside M&T Bank Stadium before the final game of the 2019 season. The fierce defense led by Hall-of-Fame linebacker Ray Lewis and the legions of New York fans outnumbering the Baltimore faithful came to mind, he said.

“If you have the money, spend it," he said. “With Baltimore’s fan base, if Baltimore goes to the Super Bowl, I think that the demand is gonna be strong.”

Baltimore Sun photojournalist Amy Davis contributed to this article.

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