Ravens seats not all sights to behold Some ticket holders ticked off by location

July 11, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Brendan Sullivan wanted a live voice on the other end of the phone, not a pre-recorded message that offered little hope and no satisfaction.

When none was forthcoming yesterday, Sullivan, in equal parts exasperation and anger, faxed a letter to the Ravens requesting full refund of his season-ticket and permanent seat license money.

"I'm starting to like the Steelers," said Sullivan, 29, a computer sales executive who joined a group of dissenting fans who leaped off the Ravens' bandwagon. "It just was not handled right."

After the Ravens sold approximately 54,000 season tickets for Baltimore's long-awaited return to the NFL, the other shoe dropped for the club, when many of those prospective season-ticket holders received notice this week of their seat assignments for the next two years at Memorial Stadium.

The growl of discontent was loud enough to keep the team's hot-line number (1-888-9RAVENS) tied up in a constant busy tone much of the past two days. That's what disturbed Sullivan. When he finally got through, he still couldn't get an explanation for why his first three seat-location requests had been rejected or why he wound up with a $35 end-zone ticket.

The Ravens may not have heard Sullivan's complaint, but they heard enough others to know they have some upset customers.

"We had a lot of volume," Roy Sommerhof, director of ticket operations, said of the calls. "I would say there's a balance between people that have questions about where their seat locations are, questions about when the tickets are coming and finally, people disappointed with seat locations. People disappointed, I'd say, were about 30 percent" of the calls."

Sommerhof said the team had a bank of 20 people answering information lines. Most were paid employees, he said, mixed with volunteers from the Colts Corrals.

"In 1998, in a new stadium, I think we can do better because there are more quality seats, more seats along the sidelines, rather than end-zone seats," he said.

"This was a blind lottery. I think we did the best we could with the time constraints we had, plus the facility we're dealing with. We hope fans understand that."

Sommerhof said one of the recurring problems was groups of fans who were split up by the computer that sorted applications and assigned seats.

"The most pressing issue is group people," he said. "We are addressing those situations as they come in."

There appears little chance disgruntled fans will be able to upgrade seats, however. When Jim Chester of Dundalk found out he had been assigned two bleacher seats at the far end of Section 22, he started calling the hot line.

"They were saying this is a done deal," Chester said. "But they have 3,000 seats left, and there must be something better than this. If not, I'm going to get my money back."

Ken Rohrer Sr. and son Ken Jr. said they sought $35 seats and got $25 seats -- this despite meeting the June 12 deadline for "first priority" and despite, they say, that the team advertised $35 seats two weeks after that deadline.

"The ad is the kicker," Rohrer Sr., of Bel Air, said. "I was ticked off about it. I was upset with two things. The woman [on the hot line] hung up on me. She didn't give me a chance to get a substantial explanation."

Then there was Mike Cox, 63, a longtime season-ticket holder with the Orioles and Colts. He said he made two separate applications for $75 seats.

Although he had not received seat assignments, Cox said he was told he would not get the $75 or $55 seats. "But they're still charging me for $75 seats anyway," Cox said. "So I'm aggravated with them. And I'm just not going to pay the credit-card people."

In the letter sent out to season-ticket holders, the Ravens added a P.S., saying that unless otherwise notified, they would credit any fan's overpayment of season tickets to his PSL costs.

Not everyone was unhappy with seat assignments. Jerry Brotman, who held Colts season tickets for 30 years, got $55 seats in Section 40 of the upper deck. "I couldn't have been more pleased if I picked them myself," he said. "[But] it wouldn't have made any difference where the seats were. Baltimore football is in my blood, and I just wanted to be there."

Frank Fillmore called it luck, but he wound up with what he wanted, too.

"I was prepared for the worst," Fillmore said. "It looks like the process was all on the up and up."

Sullivan, meanwhile, made his own determination and found the Ravens lacking. "This was a test with so many things coming up, like when they move into the new stadium," he said. "It was a big test with me and they failed. They failed with a lot of fans."

Pub Date: 7/11/96

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