The Ravens ranked No. 12 in the NFL last year in average home attendance (70,431), according to ESPN, but their season-long capacity at M&T Bank Stadium, once holding strong above 100%, dipped from 99.4% to 99.2% in 2018.
The Ravens ranked No. 12 in the NFL last year in average home attendance (70,431), according to ESPN, but their season-long capacity at M&T Bank Stadium, once holding strong above 100%, dipped from 99.4% to 99.2% in 2018. (Larry French / Getty Images)

As sports franchises reckon with how e-commerce and the secondary market have altered the ticket-buying process, the Ravens are looking for another way in: through someone you might know.

With the introduction of a volunteer sales force, the Ravens hope to expand the scope of their ticket sales outreach to overlooked groups. The inaugural 24-person class of “Ravens Scouts” is composed of “civic-minded,” “connected” and “personable” leaders in the team’s fan base, senior vice president of ticket sales and operations Baker Koppelman told The Baltimore Sun.

Advertisement

“This is not intended to be another job for them,” Koppelman said. “This is intended to allow them to be a representative of ours, identify themselves that way and, as they live their lives, they have conversations with people. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m involved with this Ravens Scouts program. And, hey, do you have any interest? Do you go to a lot of games? Do you have any interest in tickets?’ ”

Before joining the Ravens’ ticket sales force over two decades ago, Koppelman worked for the Orioles. He likened the Ravens Scouts initiative to the Orioles’ Designated Hitters program, another volunteer sales force founded over three decades ago. But elsewhere, Koppelman has found few other analogues in professional sports. (One exception is in Kansas City, where the Royals have the Royal Lancers, and the Chiefs have the Red Coaters.)

Koppelman said he’d had an idea for a program like the Ravens Scouts since the franchise moved to Baltimore. But it didn’t begin to take shape until the team held focus groups with season-ticket holders who expressed interest in joining. Koppelman also worked with an industry consultant and former Orioles colleague, David Cope, to identify Ravens fans who they thought could help with the program’s grassroots efforts.

“All of them, once we kind of laid out what we were looking to do, were interested and on board,” Koppelman said.

The early results have been promising, Koppelman said: One program member’s relationship with local police organizations could lead to an in-person sales pitch. Another member hopes to host tailgate parties for interested fans “because they want them to experience the Ravens like they do.” Membership in the program itself has grown since its formation.

Because Ravens Scouts are unpaid, ticket sales are rewarded with team-oriented incentives. Koppelman said the program will work “in hand” with the Ravens’ sales team.

“You get a different feeling about the conversation when you're dealing with someone who lives it and breathes it versus a guy where it's his job” to sell tickets, he said.

The Ravens ranked No. 12 in the NFL last year in average home attendance (70,431), according to ESPN, but their season-long capacity at M&T Bank Stadium, once holding strong above 100%, dipped from 99.4% to 99.2% in 2018. Koppelman stressed that the Ravens Scouts program is “not a reactionary move”; the team’s season-ticket base is still over 60,000, he said, and the renewal rate, while no longer at 99%, is in the mid-90s.

With the cost and convenience of at-home viewing, the Ravens have invested heavily in their game-day experience in recent years, slashing concession prices and completing a $120 million stadium renovation project. Koppelman called the Ravens Scouts program just one more part of the franchise’s goal to “stay ahead of the game.”

“People’s options have just been increased dramatically in terms of how they can get a ticket and what they pay for it,” he said. “And it’s changed the sense of urgency. It’s changed the demand for the product. And so we have to adapt to that. It’ll never go back to the old way, so we have to adapt to that, and this is one way to do that.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement