OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens are raising ticket prices for the 2009 season, informing season-ticket holders in a letter mailed this week that cited rising player costs and a desire to remain competitive as the primary reasons behind the change.
The price increases range between $5 and $15 per ticket, going up $5 for upper-deck seats, $10 for most of the lower-level seats and $15 for club-level and lower-level seats in the vicinity of the 50-yard line. This marks the Ravens’ fifth ticket price increase since opening their stadium in 1998.
The team said that it has committed to not raise prices for 2010. Team officials said that the bleak economy was considered when making the decision to increase prices.
"The decision to raise prices came after a very detailed and thoughtful process," Ravens vice president of ticket sales and operations Baker Koppelman said in the letter. "We must continue to stay competitive with other NFL teams, both in terms of revenue we generate and in our spending on players who will help us achieve our goals. Every dollar we generate stays with the team. No distributions are made to ownership."
Koppelman said that player costs in regards to the salary cap, which is expected to go up to $123 million for this fiscal year, and benefits are rising and have gone up by 15 percent since 2007.
That was the last year the Ravens raised ticket prices, continuing a trend of raising ticket prices every other year since 2001.
"This ticket price increase helps us keep pace with these rising costs and puts us in a better position to attract and retain the kinds of players we all want to see in Ravens Purple," Koppelman said. "To remain competitive, we believe that it is important that our average ticket price remains in the top third of the NFL."
According to the team, Baltimore dropped out of the top third of ticket prices when 25 of 32 teams raised ticket prices last season and the Ravens’ prices remained the same.
"Our price increase for 2009 will allow us to stay in the top third of the NFL for the next two seasons even though we will not raise our ticket prices in 2010," Koppelman said.
The Ravens are also hoping to make stadium improvements to their scoreboards and club level area.
The Ravens have several key players, including linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott, center Jason Brown, strong safety Jim Leonhard and kicker Matt Stover, that are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents by Feb. 27 when the free agent signing period begins.
Last month, team owner Steve Bisciotti said that the Ravens aren’t immune to the economic downturn.
"I’ve been through economic downturns in my other business, and so I think that we know how to prepare for those kinds of things, but you can’t prepare for loss of revenues," Bisciotti said. "You just have to try and manage it the best you can and minimize the losses. We know what the economy is like. We’re running on fairly small margins when it comes to cash flow.
"So, all those companies in Baltimore that buy our suites and everything, I need them to keep on going, and I need the people to keep on buying tickets. So, we have to be sensitive with increases and everything else, but the economy is definitely a factor, and it’s the first time we’re going to go through it."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.