Ravens' ticket requests zoom Orders for 50,000-plus processed

more await

June 14, 1996|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

The Ravens have sold nearly 90 percent of the season tickets available for their debut season, despite above-average prices and an unpopular licensing requirement.

Wednesday was the deadline for first-day priority, and all applications received by then will be randomly sorted by a computer and assigned seats. Applications received after that will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the day they get to the team.

The team began accepting ticket orders by mail last month and by phone this week, and also set up drop-off boxes on Wednesday for first-day priority. By midnight, the team had processed orders for 50,118 tickets and still had some envelopes to open.

That represents 88 percent of the 57,000 season tickets available for sale. The team will play the next two seasons at the 63,668-seat Memorial Stadium but is reserving 6,000 tickets for single-game sales, keeping them out of the season ticket pool.

Ticket prices -- which averaged just over $400 for a 10-game season -- required an additional $100 deposit per ticket on a seat license for the team's downtown stadium, set to open in 1998. That added up to the most expensive football tickets in Baltimore history.

"If this doesn't show the commitment Baltimore-area fans have to NFL football, I don't know what could," team owner Art Modell said in a written statement.

"I thought the number would have been lower for this first grouping."

Baltimore has a history of football fanaticism, dating back to the 1960s and 1970s when the Colts established a 51-game sell-out RTC record, but interest waned after Bob Irsay bought the franchise and traded away popular athletes. He moved the team to Indianapolis in 1984.

Ravens officials, who had been privately anxious in the past few weeks, viewed the sales drive as an important test of the team's decision to move to Baltimore from Cleveland this year. Although team officials did not make predictions in advance of Wednesday, yesterday spokesman Kevin Byrne said they would have considered 30,000 to 40,000 a respectable showing.

"We were hopeful that if we could get at least half the stadium sold, we'd be in good shape," Byrne said.

Among the first to sell out were the most expensive seats, the $750 "premier" seats and the next level, $550. Both categories sold out.

Ticket prices were announced May 16 and applications accepted through June 1 for fans who participated in a premium-seat sales campaign as part of Baltimore's 1993 expansion bid. Wednesday was the first priority deadline for the general public.

Sean Brenner, editor of Team Marketing Report, a sports industry newsletter, said, "It sounds as though the Ravens are off to a good start."

He said the team faced a number of obstacles, including 12 years of no NFL football in the city, an Orioles team that is drawing strongly, and above-average ticket prices.

"That certainly is a good sign that Baltimore is interested in the NFL," Brenner said of the sales so far.

Team Marketing Report prepares a comparison of ticket prices for the four major leagues each year. It has not compiled the NFL report for this season, but, assuming 7 percent price increases from last year, estimates the average NFL ticket this season will be about $35.72.

That puts the Ravens in the upper half of teams by price, but not at the top. The Oakland Raiders unveiled the highest prices in the NFL last season, an average of $51, and suffered anemic sales as a result.

Pub Date: 6/14/96

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