BALTIMORE, MD – On Tuesday, the Baltimore Ravens announced a three-year improvement project for M&T Bank Stadium, in the ballpark of $120 million. Maryland Stadium Authority will contribute $24 million to the project, making the grand total around $144 million.
“Not only will these improvements keep the stadium fresh, but they will enrich our gameday experience by delivering added convenience, entertainment and excitement,” Ravens president Dick Cass said on Tuesday. “We constantly strive to create a ‘wow’ factor for our fans.”
There will be three phases to the project. Here is what will be upgraded or added to the stadium, which is entering its 20th season of use.
Bigger Video Boards
The first change coming to M&T Bank Stadium will be bigger, better video boards. The boards going in will be approximately 200 feet wide and 36 feet high, which is more than double the size of the video boards currently in the stadium. These video boards will be located in the same place as the current ones, in the end-zones below the upper bowl and above the lower level. They will feature the highest resolution of any sports-complex video board in the United States.
These boards will be installed before the 2017 season. Along with the video boards, the Ravens will also be making the following upgrades before the first kickoff of 2017:
- Expansion of the audio / video control room
- Installing more cameras to provide more angles of game action
- New LED Ribbon displays
Jake’s take: The Ravens are completing all of their visual improvements in time for the 2017 season. The bigger video boards will be a nice addition. You look around the NFL and see all of these impressive new stadiums being built with huge video boards. The Ravens currently have the 12th oldest stadium in the NFL, making upgrades like this a continual point of discussion.
* The following renovations will take place after the 2017 season, and will be completed by the 2019 season. *
For fans sitting in the 500 level, the Ravens will make the travel to your seat a lot easier. Escalators will be installed that will carry fans from the ground level to the upper bowl. The Ravens’ brass acknowledged that they have an aging fan base, and a number of their PSL holders sit in the upper bowl. These escalators will be located in the northwest and southeast corners of the stadium.
Jake’s take: This is an upgrade that is long overdue. As someone who sits in the upper level fairly often, it has been a pain in the neck to either walk up stairs or take the ramp to get up to the 500 level. The Orioles have already installed escalators at Camden Yards to help fans get to the upper deck, so its nice to know that both Baltimore stadiums will now have this feature (not to mention how much easier it will make things for older fans).
New video boards and suites in stadium corners
There will no longer be open ends in the upper corners of M&T Bank Stadium, as the Ravens will be filling in those corners with suites and video boards. Each corner of the stadium will receive two levels of suites, with a 33-by-34 video board on top of them. The boards will not only display in-game content, but will also show out-of-town scores as well as fantasy news.
Jake’s take: This part of the renovation is a little odd to me. The pictures themselves look a little weird. Believe it or not, there is a such thing as having too many video boards in a sports complex, as they can be a distraction for fans. Nevertheless, I am interested to see how they look. The new suites will be a nice addition, and will touch up those corners of the stadium that are still open.
- A new sound system that will be installed in the seating bowl
- Upgrades to the kitchen facilities, to improve the food quality throughout the stadium
- General club-level upgrades to concession stands, restrooms, and bar/lounge areas.
Jake’s final take: With M&T Bank Stadium being the 12th oldest stadium in the NFL that is also outdoor, the Ravens will always be looking to make renovations. This three-year plan is just the latest of a string of improvements that Baltimore has made over the years.
Part of me wonders if the recent attendance drop has anything to do with pushing these enhancements. The Ravens have sold out all of their games since the team’s inaugural 1996 season, but not all of the ticket holders have been showing up as much as years past. A lot of that has to be attributed to the Ravens not making the playoffs three times in four seasons, but some of that can also be placed on the enhanced experience that fans receive by watching the NFL at home.
I do not know if bigger video boards or escalators will draw more people to M&T Bank Stadium; I think a winning football team will be more successful in filling the empty seats. These stadium enhancements will certainly be kind to the eyes, but hopefully the on-field product improves for the Ravens in the coming seasons so that attendance is not an issue.