Ravens' price tags turn off some fans Today's NFL tickets evoke sticker shock

June 13, 1996|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

As yesterday's deadline for priority Ravens seating came and went, football fans across the region wrestled with conflicting emotions and financial means.

Some were just happy to be back in the game and plunked down hundreds, even thousands of dollars for tickets and the required seat license deposits -- a controversial fee new to Baltimore sports.

Others were troubled by the manner Baltimore got a team, and the pain inflicted on Cleveland. And for many the stiff prices brought into conflict the modern realities of the NFL and their own fond memories of $10 Colts games.

"When the application came out I briefly looked at it and thought I'd get the top of the line. But as I delved into it all and the prices and the PSLs I decided I'm not going to do it," said Ron Manno, a 30-year-old salesman for a Baltimore lighting and chemical firm.

He considers himself a football fan and spent plenty of Sundays at Memorial Stadium rooting for the Colts before they moved to Indianapolis in 1984. But the price of admission is just too high, he said, and he's sad for what happened to Cleveland.

"It's not that I don't have the money. I think it's ridiculous to pay that much money for a football team. It's highway robbery," Manno said. He'll watch the games on TV instead.

Football has clearly become more expensive since the Colts moved. Ravens season tickets will average $400 this season and require a $100 deposit on seat licenses for the new, downtown stadium to open in 1998. Tickets are $75 per seat for the "premier" level, $55, $35, $25, $20 and $17. The season-ticket package includes the eight regular-season home games and two exhibition home games.

Licenses, which will cost $500 to $3,000 depending upon the quality of the seat, can be paid for in installments over the next three years. Fans who decide not to get a seat license can get the deposit back later this year but won't be able to get season tickets for next season without commiting to a license.

Jim Bradley, who started going to Colts games during the 1958 championship season, considered the price high, but not too high. He bought a pair of the $750 premier season tickets.

"I'm just a working person but I wanted football back in town," said Bradley, who put down deposits in 1993 on club seats as part of Baltimore's failed expansion-team bid. "This is a hobby and I enjoy it and I went for it. I like football and I enjoy watching it and I'm not denying it."

Besides, he said, "I think Art Modell will put a good team on the field."

The Ravens estimated having 35,000 seats sold going into yesterday with thousands more applications waiting to be processed. All applications are being dated and those received by yesterday were stamped "first day." Those fans will get top pick of seats to be assigned randomly by a computer.

Later applications will be assigned priority in the order they arrive.

For the team, the response will be the first test of Baltimore's once-legendary thirst for football. Between 1964 and 1970, the Colts sold out a record 51 straight games. During the 1993 expansion drive, the city sold out 100 sky boxes and 7,500 club seats in a matter of weeks.

"It's going well so far and we're encouraged. To sell 35,000-plus in 14 or 15 days is pretty good," said Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne.

Dennis Hand, who helped organize a letter-writing campaign to try and convince the Rams to move here, said he's in for two of the premier seats. His father, who was one of the 15,000 charter ticket buyers who convinced the NFL to replace the first Colts franchise with another in 1953, died recently. Hand plans to start a new tradition with his son.

He said he waited 11 long years for Baltimore to get back into the league. "I wanted it to happen badly and when it did, I wasn't going to complain," he said.

Bob Leishear, a 67-year-old retiree who attended the first Baltimore Colts game in 1947, said he wishes the new team well but probably won't be at the Ravens' debut. "I just can't afford it when you get into that kind of money," he said.

For Rodney Joyner, a 30-year-old counselor at City College high school, the decision was both financial and philosophical. "Once they came up with the licensing fees and everything I was just out of the ballpark," he said.

Pub Date: 6/13/96

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