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Ravens, State Budget $144M for Stadium Improvements

JACK CHAVEZ, Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Board of Public Works voted 3-0 Wednesday to allow the Maryland Stadium Authority to accept $120 million from the Baltimore Ravens to upgrade several areas of M&T Bank Stadium, and granted permission for the stadium authority to commit $24 million of its own earnings for infrastructural renovations.

With the improvements, however, Ravens fans could expect an increase in ticket prices.

“We’re seriously considering a price increase,” team President Dick Cass said at the annual “State of the Ravens” press conference earlier this month. “But we won’t announce what we’re going to do until probably the end of January or early February.”

Cass pointed out that it’s been four years since the team increased ticket prices and that the improvements will enhance the game day experience for fans.

“(Improvements will include) putting in escalators and elevators to the top level, which will make a lot of our PSL holders up there happy,” Cass said.

A PSL, or a public seating license, grants the holder the right to purchase tickets for a certain seat in the stadium.

The stadium authority’s portion comes from its own retained earnings, Executive Director Michael Frenz told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service.

These earnings come from a variety of sources, including rent from the Baltimore Orioles and a 10 percent admissions tax on all games and events at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, Frenz said.

The stadium authority receives 8 percent of that tax, while the city of Baltimore receives 2 percent. Its retained earnings are the leftover funds after expenses like salaries, utility maintenance, and the agency’s own debt service, Frenz said.

While the Ravens are the primary tenant of M&T Bank Stadium, they do not actually pay rent. Instead, they assume all utility and maintenance costs for the stadium, as well as pay the salaries of everyone who works there, including stadium authority employees. Frenz said that these costs amounted to $9.7 million for the 2016 fiscal year.

Frenz called the deal “extraordinary” for the state of Maryland.

“The team has been proactive enough to spend this money to keep M&T Bank (Stadium) at the top of the league,” he said.

As a state agency, the stadium authority needed the approval of the Board of Public Works to not only utilize its own funds, but also to accept money from a private entity like the Ravens.

The state’s contribution will equal 20 percent of the Ravens’ contribution. Once all of the renovations are put in place, they become property of the state of Maryland.

M&T Bank Stadium was built for $220 million in 1998, according to the Ravens website. The improvements to the 19-year-old stadium will not only enhance the game day experience for Ravens fans, Frenz said, but also the experience of anyone who attends any of the many sports and entertainment events the stadium hosts year-round.

Frenz said these renovations also ensure that the stadium authority has a “turnkey” situation for a future franchise to step in right away, if the Ravens were to ever leave.

The Ravens are the primary tenants, but the stadium also hosts a variety music and sports events year-round. M&T Bank Stadium hosted the 117th Army-Navy football game in December.

A Ravens official reached by e-mail Friday did not have a comment for this story, but said that the team plans to hold its own press conference concerning the renovations in the near future.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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