This guest blog was submitted to us by Debra Gardner, a fan who wished to express her frustration with what she sees as the organization ignoring their fan base.
Thoughts from a frustrated fan as to why there are so many empty purple seats & tickets are not selling.
Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass said that even though every game has been sold out at M&T Bank Stadium in Ravens’ 20-year history, they’ve noticed an increasing number of empty seats since the 2016 season. He also acknowledged that the renewal of season tickets is “a little bit slower” than they were last year at this point. Cass continued: “We’re not worried about them [sales] right now,” and the team needs to “do a better job of engaging with our fans.”
The Ravens need to do that and much more to change things around in Baltimore.
My husband and I have been Baltimore Ravens PSL owners since 1996 and have been loyal to the team regardless of their win-loss record. We have recently moved out of town and will no longer be able to go to the games and have been trying unsuccessfully to sell our season tickets and PSLs. We have posted them for sale on every available website and have talked to several brokers who, in the past, would have begged to buy the tickets. This year however, they are not interested because, as they explained, “they cannot dump the tickets.”
In the Ravens’ 2017 holiday letter to season ticket holders, Cass acknowledged that the team “is concerned about no-shows during a playoff race.” He continued to say “we had a poor showing in London, complicated by the kneeling of a dozen players during the National Anthem.” My son spent his hard-earned money to support his team in London and was told by Londoners that the Ravens fan base was the largest that they have ever seen.
While Cass acknowledged the team’s “poor showing,” I find it insulting to blame fans for not showing up to games late in the year, based on the reasons I will lay out below.
I believe that the Ravens fan base has been quickly eroding for the following reasons:
— Fans believe that the Ravens players, who chose to take a knee during the national anthem, especially during the September 24, 2017 game in London, are being disrespectful to our flag and country. The Ravens are not the only NFL team that is experiencing the negative impact caused by this kneeling.
— During the 2017 season, many of the Ravens players appeared to lack the desire to play and simply failed to show up, especially in the London game and the subsequent 26-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home.
— The Ravens failed to make it to the playoffs the last three seasons.
— The offensive line, which started out the season with injuries but continued to improve, still had not been able to keep the opposing defenses off Joe Flacco, which has led to hesitancy on his part. The offense averaged the league worst 4.6 yards per play last season. In March, the Ravens signed James Hurst to a four-year deal — he is assumed to be the starting right tackle but his struggles at left tackle do not encourage confidence of his success on the line. In the 2018 draft, to enhance the offensive line, the Ravens picked up OT Orlando Brown Jr. (#83), OT Greg Senat (#212), and C Bradley Bozeman (#215). Brown is the only one who is in position to play immediately, but there are questions about his athletic ability.
— The fans are tired of watching Flacco and the offense struggle to convert third downs. I don’t know if it is the play calling, Flacco’s inability to find someone open or the ineffective wide receivers failing to get open, but he needs to stop throwing a three-yard pass when he needs 7+ yards for a first down. The team’s third-down percentage in 2017 was only 34.1%. Also, Flacco telegraphs to the defense where he wants to throw the ball, which makes it difficult for any wide receiver to get open. According to USA Today Sports, Flacco was identified as one of the nine NFL veterans who have been put on notice after the NFL draft with the first round pick of Lamar Jackson. The Ravens deliberately passed on two WRs to take Hayden Hurst (TE). Fans wanted a WR. We’ll have to see if Hurst was the correct pick.
— The draft, under Ozzie’s leadership, has failed to produce any outstanding talent by sticking to the mindset of finding the “best player available.” Sports Illustrated gave the Ravens at B- grade for their overall 2018 draft selection picks. This is the second time recently where Ozzie has drafted two tight ends early in a draft and the last time, neither nor Maxx Williams nor Nick Boyle worked out well. In this fan’s opinion, the only great pick and truly the one that saved the draft was Lamar Jackson. They have him locked in for four or five years, but realistically need a plan to not only develop him, but develop an offense and personnel around him.
— In 2017, the Ravens were the 25th oldest of the of 32 teams based on the roster at the time of the 53-man cut downs. It seems that getting older free agents that are past their prime has not been a recipe for success, except in a couple few-and-far-between circumstances.
I think that there needs to be a change to the overall vision and future of the Ravens organization. The organization needs to start thinking about their fans, listening to what they are saying and taking them seriously or those purple seats will remain empty. The team’s recent announcement that they will lower concession prices (“Flock-Friendly Fare”) at M&T Bank Stadium is no solution, in my opinion, and will not bring back many fans. Reducing the price of items by an average of 33% is not going to incentivize folks to head back to the stadium. Fans care about the play on the field first and foremost, then beer prices, then food prices.
Ravens fans are loyal, but we are tired of paying a lot of money for tickets to experience all of what I’ve identified above. Until things change, I fear that I will never be able to sell my seats and have to take a loss of $2,625.