Most Ravens fans upscale, male Poll: A survey finds that the club's fan base is well-off, highly educated, male-dominated and pretty much pleased with the game experience at the new stadium, if not the food and drink prices.


Ravens ticket buyers are an upscale group that rates the new stadium as somewhere between good and excellent but wishes the beer didn't cost so much.

A survey conducted for the team by J. D. Power and Associates -- the folks who rank consumer satisfaction with cars and other products -- confirms what many Ravens fans have guessed about football's changing fan base in Baltimore.

The average household income of people attending Ravens home games is $78,322, and 40 percent reported household incomes of $90,000 or more. Only 6 percent earn $30,000 or less.

More than three-quarters have college degrees, including 26 percent who report having postgraduate educations.

It is, consistent with its reputation, a male bastion. Three-quarters of the attendees are men. And they aren't teen-agers. Nearly two-thirds of the fans are 30 to 50 years old, and one quarter are older than 50.

The team's high ticket prices -- some go for nearly $300 a game -- and accompanying requirement that season-ticket holders invest an average of $1,100 in a permanent seat license, no doubt skewed the income results. It also put pressure on the team to be sure it was giving people their money's worth.

"We're asking a lot from people. When your ticket prices average $45, you are asking a lot. I understand that. You better be giving them a level of service and amenities that matches their experience," said Ravens executive vice president David Modell.

According to the study, which the team received two weeks ago and shared with The Sun last week, the Ravens are off to a good start, but could improve a few things.

Food and drink service, for example. Although fans ranked this service overall as "good," it drew the lowest numerical ratings in the survey.

Especially troublesome were the food and drink prices, rated as "poor" in the survey. Even though an industry newspaper recently ranked the Ravens' stadium as just above average for food prices, fans apparently find the $3.25 hot dogs and $4.25 beers a bit pricey.

Taste, speed and server courtesy drew overall "good" marks, but fans would like to spend less time in line.

Ticket prices, too, were unpopular. Fans rated them "just OK."

Drawing the highest satisfaction ratings was the "seating/game experience" category. Leading the charge here was the stadium's gigantic video boards, which employ a new technology and are the biggest in sports. Fans said their ability to see these boards was excellent and the quality of the presentation on the boards was nearly excellent.

Also drawing excellent ratings: stadium cleanliness. The $223 million, 69,000-seat facility at Camden Yards opened in August.

Overall, Modell said he was pleased with the results and hopes to study the data with an eye toward improving service.

The Ravens are the only NFL team to hire Power for a customer survey, he said. Previously, the Ravens have used other modern techniques to gauge and improve their customer service. Focus groups have been convened, season-ticket holders canvassed and employees sent for training to Disney World.

"To me, it just goes back to Marketing 101. You need to be providing a product to your customers that they want," Modell said. He intends to conduct follow-up surveys this season, he said.

Modell said he may address the concern over prices revealed in the study with some new packaging of food, along the lines of the "value meals" offered at fast-food restaurants.

He said he was "shocked" at the high-end demographics of the crowd and the disproportionately male breakdown. He suspects some fans handed survey forms by J. D. Power workers may have turned them over to fathers or husbands to fill out, skewing the gender results a bit.

But Glen Goodstein, director of the sports division of J. D. Power, said the poll is an accurate sampling of the crowd and that known variables -- such as the percent of season-ticket holders at a game -- matched up with the poll results.

He declined to compare the Ravens with the company's other sports clients. "I'd say the Ravens seem to be doing pretty well in some areas and less well in other areas," he said.

Other results from the poll:

Fans had some qualms with the souvenir merchandise at the stadium. Prices of these goods were rated "just OK." The variety, quality and service available in the team-operated merchandise stands were rated "good."

Restrooms -- an amenity that fans in earlier research had indicated would be a top priority for them in the new park -- drew ratings high on the "good" scale. People found the bathrooms easy to locate and generally well-kept.

Transportation was an issue. A category called "leaving the stadium" got rankings on the lower end of the "good" scale. The lack of signs, and the ability and availability of staffers to give directions, were the biggest complaints.

The polling, which was performed on 6,000 fans at each of the first four games of the season, found that a Ravens win had little to do with a fan's overall enjoyment of the outing. More important was seating location. Fans in the pricey club level reported the most satisfaction, and those in the upper deck the least.

Pub Date: 11/25/98

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