Ravens ticket prices to rise

Cost of club seats to increase as much as 50% by 2003 season

No changes until 2001

Club customers asked to sign multi-year lease

January 30, 1999|By JON MORGAN | JON MORGAN,SUN STAFF

In the first glimpse of Ravens ticket prices in the next century, the team has notified its club seat customers that their annual bills will be going up by as much as 50 percent by 2003.

That means the most expensive club seats -- the best seats in the house, outside of a skybox -- will cost $337.50 a game by 2003.

Ravens vice president of sales and marketing David Cope said the increases for club seats, a luxury category that comes with waiter service and other amenities, do not necessarily mean other fans will see their tickets go up as much.

"We have no idea yet and don't need to," Cope said. The team has promised to forgo ticket-price increases until 2001.

Letters from the team that went out to club seat customers Jan. 20 revealed the new prices and requested they sign a three-, five- or seven-year lease.

Some club seat fans are grumbling about the new prices, as well as the requirement that they sign a multi-year lease.

Insurance executive Jerry Veydt, of Phoenix, said the lease is overkill for fans who already had to purchase permanent seat licenses, which require them to buy a ticket every year or default on the license. Club seat licenses were sold for $1,000.

He said the increase is especially disturbing because it came just before the team announced a $105.5 million, 20-year stad um sponsorship with PSINet Inc.

"How many insults do we fans have to endure?" Veydt said.

Cope said club seats, like skyboxes, require multi-year leases throughout the league. Sales brochures that were sent to fans before the stadium opened said, "New Club Seat holders will be offered an option of either a five- or seven-year lease."

But Veydt said the documents represent a change in the contract that is being forced upon seat license holders. He declined to sign his and sent in a check for a single-year payment.

"This is so duplicitous," he said.

Cope said fans will still pay season-by-season, even though they are being asked to commit to multi-year agreements. The team feels the long-term leases provide it more revenue security than the seat licenses, which fans can drop at any time, even though they will forfeit the license.

"We said when they bought these things that they would have to commit to a five- or seven-year lease," he said.

Cope said the Ravens decided to raise the ticket prices because there has been strong demand for the 8,200 club seats, most of which were sold out before the stadium opened. A few hundred more than planned were created during construction and are for sale.

Club seat buyers have access to the stadium lounges used by skybox customers.

Sean Brenner, editor of the Chicago-based newsletter Team Marketing Report, said luxury seating has seen the highest increases in prices in recent years across all pro sports.

"There is probably more price flexibility at the high end, because of the corporate clientele," Brenner said.

"Teams also, to the degree that they need to increase revenues from tickets, don't want to pass on too much to the regular fans," he said.

Ravens club seats now sell for $1,075, $1,675, $2,375, and $2,975, for eight regular-season and two preseason home games. Prices vary depending on location and do not include the one-time, $1,000 seat license fee.

In 2001, the cost of the tickets will climb to $1,475, $1,675, $2,500 and $2,975. Fans buying a seven-year lease get one break: the increase that goes into effect in 2002 for everyone else won't affect them until the next year.

The costs top out in 2003 at $1,625, $2,100, $2,625 and $3,375.

Because there are no scheduled price increases in the team's first three years in the new stadium, the average annual increases for club seat customers work out to, depending on price category and term selected, a low of about 2 percent a year to a high of nearly 12 percent a year.

The cheapest categories will see the steepest increase: fans now paying $1,075 and opting for the five-year term will be hit with a 37 percent increase in 2001 followed by a 10 percent jump the following year. That works out to an annual average increase of about 12 percent, or 8 precent for those on the seven-year plan.

The highest rollers, who are now paying $2,975, will see only one increase, 13 percent, in 2001 or 2002, depending on whether they opt for a five- or seven-year term. That gives them an average annual increase of a little more than 2 percent or slightly more than 3 percent, depending on the term.

Pub Date: 1/30/99

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