Fans who needed a Sherpa and emergency rations to get to their seats in the upper level of M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore will get some much-needed relief by next season.
Construction of 16 total escalators and several more elevators to the 500 level has begun at the stadium that the Ravens have called home since it officially opened in 1998. The escalators and elevators are part of a three-year, $120 million renovation that could be completed by the start of the 2019 season.
The second and third phases of the project will also include new giant video displays and a refurbished sound system, but the addition of escalators and elevators will help address a long-standing complaint among some fans about the trek to get to seats in the upper bowl.
“I think it’s going to be a great improvement,” Ravens senior vice president of stadium operations Roy Sommerhof said Tuesday afternoon during a tour of the stadium. “I think the escalators for the people that have been sitting up in the upper level for many years, it’s going to make their visit here much more enjoyable, a lot easier to get up and down through the stadium.”
Crews have been working since October to remove concrete ramps around the stadium to prepare the sites for escalators, elevators and stairs. Several of the escalators will be ready for use by the start of the 2018 season, and all of the escalators will be installed by the start of the 2019 season.
Another portion of the project involves building “corner notch” suites on the upper level of the stadium. Each corner will contain two large suites and a 4K ultra-high definition video board 33 feet wide by 44 feet high.
Sommerhof said the video displays will be used to provide fans with in-game statistics, fantasy football stats and video highlights from other NFL games.
“I think the corner boards that we’re putting in the corners of the stadium will really enhance the experience just because it will give us the ability to provide more content to folks without necessarily impacting what’s appearing on the big boards,” he said. “We’ll have the ability to provide that instantaneously for fans now.”
Sommerhof said he anticipates the corner suites on the west side of the stadium will be completed by the start of the 2018 season, while the suites on the east side will be available for the start of the 2019 season.
The project will also include upgrades to the concession stands and bar/lounge areas on the stadium’s club level, renovations to the kitchen areas and new equipment, and installation of a new sound system to replace the original system from 1998.