Ravens plan up­grades for M&T Bank Sta­dium

$110 mil­lion plan in­cludes new video boards, cor­ner suites, es­ca­la­tors

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeff Barker

The Bal­ti­more Ravens want to up­date 18-year-old M&T Bank Sta­dium with $110 mil­lion in im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing large new video boards, new cor­ner suites, and es­ca­la­tors and el­e­va­tors so fans would no longer need to walk to the up­per level.

De­tails of the pro­posed im­prove­ments were con­tained in a Mary­land Sta­dium Au­thor­ity doc­u­ment ob­tained in a pub­lic records re­quest and con­firmed by the Ravens.

The sta­dium au­thor­ity has al­ready ap­proved some of the ren­o­va­tions — in­clud­ing re­plac­ing the east and west video screens with larger boards, up­grad­ing con­ces­sions spa­ces and adding a “rib­bon board” en­cir­cling the up­per level — that are to be com­pleted dur­ing the com­ing off­sea­son.

The foot­ball team and the au­thor­ity are still dis­cussing the other en­hance­ments, which could come over the next three years.

Th­ese in­clude adding es­ca­la­tors and el­e­va­tors, and build­ing suites in each of the four cor­ner notches of the up­per bowl, ac­cord­ing to a writ­ten agree­ment be­tween the au­thor­ity and the team.

Video boards would be in­stalled above the cor­ner suites. The gaps in the cor­ners, which the team nick­named “vic­tory notches,” were a dis­tinc­tive trait of the The Ravens are also propos­ing adding a sec­ond “rib­bon board,” like this one cir­cling the lower deck, to the up­per level for mes­sages, pro­mo­tions and up­dated NFL scores.

orig­i­nal sta­dium de­sign, cre­at­ing views of the city for fans.

The team would pay for the im­prove­ments. The $110 mil­lion price tag for the projects would be about half what the brick-sided, 71,000-seat sta­dium cost when com­peted in 1998 with $205 mil­lion from the state and $24 mil­lion from the team.

“The Ravens are of­fer­ing to ex­pend a sig­nif­i­cant amount of cap­i­tal into the sta­dium, so that’s a pos­i­tive thing,” said Michael Frenz, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the sta­dium au­thor­ity, which serves as the team’s land­lord on be­half of the state. “I think it’s pretty clear that what they’re try­ing to do is im­prove the fan ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The sta­dium au­thor­ity also may kick in some more money. If it reaches agree­ment with the team on the $110 mil­lion pack­age, the doc­u­ment says the au­thor­ity “will use its best ef­forts” to pay up to $24 mil­lion for var­i­ous projects that could in­clude work on me­chan­i­cal sys­tems or floor­ing.

“It’s re­ally nuts-and-bolts type things,” Frenz said.

Frenz cau­tioned that a large chunk of the ren­o­va­tions — amount­ing to $71 mil­lion of the $110 mil­lion — were still ten­ta­tive

“We’re ne­go­ti­at­ing with the Ravens on an agree­ment. It’s still un­der dis­cus­sion,” he said.

In the doc­u­ment, the sta­dium au­thor­ity re­tained the right “to re­view and com­ment on all de­sign and con­struc­tion con­tracts.”

Frenz signed the Sept. 29 mem­o­ran­dum along with Ravens pres­i­dent Dick Cass, and the au­thor­ity’s board ap­proved the ini­tial ren­o­va­tion plans in Oc­to­ber.

The Ravens con­firmed last week that they had reached agree­ment on the ini­tial im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing the video boards and a sec­ond “rib­bon” board — the sta­dium al­ready has one on the lower deck — for mes­sages such as pro­mo­tions or out-oftown NFL scores.

The club de­clined to com­ment fur­ther, say­ing it would be pre­ma­ture to dis­cuss de­tails of the pro­pos­als still un­der dis­cus­sion.

This sea­son, the Ravens added a nat­u­ral grass field to re­place the ar­ti­fi­cial turf that had been there since 2002. In 2015, the team added 360-de­gree re­plays with a newly im­ple­mented sys­tem called “freeD.” The club also said it spent more than $5 mil­lion be­fore last sea­son to im­prove Wi-Fi ac­cess in the sta­dium for fans.

While the Ravens have had no prob­lem sell­ing out games, of­fi­cials said last year that the team — like oth­ers — must com­pete with evolv­ing tech­nol­ogy such as high­def­i­ni­tion tele­vi­sion.

M&T Bank Sta­dium is unique for its pur­ple seats and gap-toothed up­per deck. And most other foot­ball sta­di­ums of its The Ravens are propos­ing to re­place the east and west video boards with larger ones un­der the $110 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion plan. gen­er­a­tion used con­crete, glass, stone and steel — not brick.

Al­though some­times over­shad­owed by its neigh­bor — the pop­u­lar Ori­ole Park at Cam­den Yards — M&T Bank Sta­dium is still well re­garded. Sta­dium Jour­ney, a site that an­nu­ally ranks ball­parks, re­cently listed M&T Bank sta­dium as No. 17 on its top-100 sta­dium ex­pe­ri­ences.

Lu­cas Oil Sta­dium in In­di­anapo­lis was the only NFL sta­dium listed ahead of it. Ori­ole Park at Cam­den Yards was ranked No. 1.

Ravens fan Bill Lam­bka of Pasadena said while Bal­ti­more is for­tu­nate to have “ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic” sta­di­ums, es­ca­la­tors would be wel­come at Ravens’ games.

“It’s get­ting up to that up­per level and get­ting back,” Lam­bka said. “There are a lot of fans who have health is­sues. I have a very good friend with health isues, and he’s very lim­ited.”

The cur­rent sta­dium es­ca­la­tor is for the club level. El­e­va­tors are for fans in the suite or club lev­els but not those in the up­per bowl un­less they have dis­abil­i­ties.


Ravens fans walk up sev­eral flights of stairs to their up­per-level seats at M&T Bank Sta­dium be­fore the Ravens-Browns game Thurs­day night. The Ravens are propos­ing adding es­ca­la­tors and el­e­va­tors to elim­i­nate the walk.


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