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In 2013, ESPN The Magazine compiled surveys and financial analysis to determine which teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL offer the greatest awards for all of the time, emotion and cost that fans invest into them. The Baltimore Ravens were ranked #2 (behind the Green Bay Packers) of all NFL franchises, and #10 of all U.S. based sports franchises. The atmosphere at M&T Bank Stadium is a major part of the reasons behind this.
Art Modell moved the Browns out of Cleveland in 1996. He had to leave behind the Browns' name, colors and heritage in Cleveland for a replacement team that took the field in 1999. In four short years, the new Baltimore franchise, renamed the Ravens, won the first of their Super Bowl championships, followed by another in 2012.
The city of Baltimore has a history of winning teams. The Baltimore Colts won the NFL Championship Game before the Super Bowl even existed, in 1958 and 1959, as well as the Super Bowl in 1971. The Baltimore Stars of the USFL were led by coach Jim Mora to that league’s championship in 1985, the final year of the league and team. And of course, the well-loved Canadian Football franchise, the Baltimore CFL Colts/Stallions won in 1995, before the Ravens came to town and prompted their move to Montreal to become the Alouettes. Those seven championships show that Baltimore is a hard-nosed football town with a history of success.
The Baltimore Ravens spent $35 million in 2013 and 2014 to upgrade the fan experience at M&T Bank Stadium. The concourse features new, updated signage, better audio quality, enhanced cellular coverage from multiple carriers and remodeled concession stands. New artwork on the club level depicts some of the Ravens' most successful seasons of the past.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The Ravens have done a good job of improving the concession stands around the stadium. There are many stands, offering options such as beer for $8.25 to $11, depending on the size and brand. Bell's famous chili bowl ($6), Papa John's pizza ($8), stadium dogs ($5) are all nice options. Many stands tend to have generic names, such as Goal Line Grill, Kickoff Classics and the Chesapeake Market.
Kiosks will sell a Guinness draft for a good value of $9. There are also a few full-service bars scattered around, such as the Talon Pub, Bud Light Party Zone and The Bacardi Zone, offering top-shelf spirits for $12.50, with premium drinks for $9.50. There are several kiosks that also sell a variety of domestic and craft beers.
The best deals are the Subway six-inch sub for $7, the Double Bacon Dunk Burger for $9 and authentic Maryland crab cakes for $11. Another good Baltimore option is Attman's Deli Corned Beef or hot pastrami for $11.
Sodas are $5.25 for a regular size, but the $7.75 souvenir size comes with one free refill, and is a better choice. Also, look for the booth offering a free soda for those who are willing to be the designated driver and not drink alcoholic beverages.
From the Ravenswalk area outside of the stadium to the purple seats and concourse lighting, the Ravens have set a fine stage for enjoyment of NFL football. Expect the games to be loud inside the walls of the stadium. Every play, whether it be on defense or offense, will have the fans screaming at every detail. Even special teams plays are paid attention in great detail. The fans are knowledgeable about all aspects of the game.
The large video boards, known as RavensVision, past both end zones are amazing visual spectacles. The Ravens Cheerleading Squad and mascot Poe offer traditional cheering options. Note that the cheerleading squad also has a male stunt squad, as well.
New 22-foot long LED screens were added to the upper level concourses. These screens are big enough to be a normal video screen at many stadiums, and here, they are just for patrons on the concourse to enjoy. These go along with relatively new large LED screens at the entrance gates. The signage around the stadium is consistent, modern and appropriate.
The neighborhood is generally the same as Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but does suffer a slight bit, as it is further away from downtown Baltimore. The newly opened Horseshoe Casino, located south of the stadium, has the potential to make this "other" side to the stadium become more and more important to the Ravens' social scene.
Close to the stadium, and right across from Oriole Park, are Pickles Pub and Sliders Bar & Grille. The Federal Hill neighborhood is also close by. There are a few fun restaurants and bars here. Abbey Burger Bistro (1041 Marshall Street) is one great choice. The beer selection is good, and they offer a dizzying array of burger choices, which are all likely to satisfy. Mother's (1113 S Charles Street) and Magerks (1061 S Charles Street) are also good places for a pre or post game meal.
The Inner Harbor is a popular tourist destination, and is a short walk from Camden Yards. There are numerous options here but will be expensive and more touristy. If you do want a reasonable option here, look for the value of the M&S Grill (201 E Pratt Street in the Pratt Street Pavilion of Harborplace) happy hour, as it is considered the best in town.
Baltimore is home to many touristy attractions, such as Harborplace, Fells Point and Fort McHenry. The American Visionary Art Museum on Key Highway is located on the way to Fort McHenry and should not be missed, although its unique collection will not be for everyone.
If looking for a bit of Baltimore sports history, the Sports Legends Museum is located adjacent to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Baltimore is a football town. They love smash-mouthed football and have no problem if the defense wins the game by smothering their opponents. Even when there was no NFL team in town, they embraced football variations offered by the USFL and the CFL in ways that other cities may have a hard time following.
The fans will still respect fans who wear the opposing team's colors, but they still should not expect too much love. The fans are serious about the Ravens and defensive football.
Just like at Oriole Park, the Ravens' fans commemorate the local creation of the Star-Spangled Banner, and the love of the other big league team in town, by shouting a loud "O!!!!!!" during the appropriate spot in the anthem. In other places, this would seem to be disrespectful, but in Baltimore, it shows the love of country and the team. If you hear that yell at other parks throughout the country, rest assured that there is a Baltimore fan in the house. Fans also love to chant along with the "Seven Nation Army" song by the White Stripes.
M&T Bank Stadium is right off I-95, with only a couple of turns putting you on the highway home. Parking garages can be found in all directions from the stadium. Street parking is not a great option.
Parking near the Inner Harbor is a good option. Check the parking link on the Ravens' website to find bargains that are a pretty close walk away. The 400 E Pratt Street garage with entrances off of Lombard Street and Gay Street is a nice convenient choice for a little over $10, if paid ahead of time.
If you're not driving to the game, the other primary mode of access is the MTA Light Rail. From points north and south of downtown Baltimore, you can take the train to the ballpark. The Light Rail is slow, so make sure you know that beforehand, and the crowds will be overwhelming after the game.
The cost of an NFL game is expensive. There is no way around it. You do get a good deal, because of the high entertainment value and the extremely high level of competition. The parking costs, if done correctly and cheaply, can alleviate some of the expense.
The Ravens make sure the fans know they are valued for spending their money on the team. Free programs are available for all games, and the pre-game ritual of walking the Ravenswalk (located between the two Camden Yards stadiums) is a treat for all fans.
The Johnny Unitas statue located at the end of Ravenswalk and in front of the stadium is a gathering spot for pre-game meetings, as well as a place to honor the Baltimore Colts legend. A Ray Lewis statue will be added in 2014 to honor one of the other most important Baltimore football players.
Ravenswalk is the place to be and watch the excitement of the game day grow to a fever pitch.
The only marching band in professional football, the Marching Ravens, plays at Ravenswalk as well at points in the game. This is the same band that was known as the Baltimore Colts' Marching Band, and was started in 1947.
The newly-spent renovations and additions have made the purple colors and signage seem consistent, and scream out RAVENS at all points.
M&T Bank Stadium shows that the Ravens have done an outstanding job with their franchise. The fans who attend will always have a memorable game day experience and get good value.
Remember that super hot girl from high school that everyone was in love with? You know the one. Always had the huge crowd around her locker, and she was a nice person to boot. Remember her little sister? Remember thinking she might eventually get to be like her big sister, only she never quite measured up? Oh, she was alright, I guess, but standing next to her sister, boy, not even close.
In Baltimore, Oriole Park is the hot girl. M&T Bank Stadium is the little sister. It would be better off in another part of the city, or, even better, in another city to avoid the comparisons.
My one experience here was not exactly typical. I was here shortly after 9/11 and during the 1st quarter, news broke that we were bombing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Midshipmen from Annapolis carried a huge flag onto the field at halftime and the halftime show consisted of a televised speech from President Bush. The whole crowd was chanting "USA! USA!" It was surreal. Even before all that happened, we found the fans were very friendly and the prices were a little more reasonable the in Philly. Parking was a little tough but not terrible. The Inner Harbor is great.
I went to a game here in December 2010. It was absolutely freezing but everyone was still very into the game. The PA always tried to keep fans involved and I remember them making great use of the video board since it's hard to see everything down on the field, live.
As I walked to the stadium that day I could see there was a lot of pre-game stuff going on outside before the game started. Radio stations were there, there were a bunch of tents, and I think there was even a marching band somewhere. For note, this was a 1PM game. Looking back at the stats for the game I went to, it was a sellout. I could definitely tell; it was LOUD.
The city of Baltimore could seem intimidating but I think there's definitely a lot to do if you know the right places to go. I've been to the American Visionary Art Museum and it's less than 2 miles away from M&T; beautiful place. Inner Harbor is great too, and I hear a lot about the nightlife at Fells Point.
Again, I don't know what's changed in the last two years, but I had a lot of fun at M&T. If you just want to watch football, there are plenty of college games around Maryland that could spare you the traffic and parking that goes with Baltimore on gamedays, but if you want some good professional football, M&T Bank, where the Ravens went 9-0 last year including playoffs, is a good place to go.
There are no bells and whistles here, and the main review is quite accurate except on Extras. The Ravenswalk that joins Camden Yards and this place is dotted with concessions and sponsored stalls and is worth a few minutes. The Johnny Unitas statue is a must see, and the club level (not accessible to all sadly) contains a lot of trivia about football in Baltimore.
Fans are spoiled after a second Super Bowl but they show up in numbers and cheer loudly the whole game. Getting there is easy on light rail and the concourses are more than wide enough for the crowd.
Great place to watch a game with few distractions, other than the marching band, which remains unique in the NFL.
In 2011, the Baltimore Ravens were looking for an unofficial anthem to fire up the crowd during key points of the game. After receiving hundreds of selections, the players narrowed the list down to a final five for the Ravens fans to choose from; ultimately, the fans selected The White Stripes classic “Seven Nation Army” as their anthem. Ever since, it’s been impossible to attend a Baltimore sporting event without hearing the popular hook during games.
M&T Bank Stadium (capacity 71,008) opened in 1998, and was the direct result of Art Modell and the original Cleveland Browns moving to Baltimore following the 1995 season. While the team name, colors, and history have remained in Cleveland, the organization has done an incredible job of creating their own niche and history. Since their move to Baltimore, the Ravens have won four AFC North Divisional titles (2003, '06, '11, '12) and two Super Bowl championships (2000 & 2012), making them one of the most successful teams in the last 20 seasons. The devoted Ravens fans have reciprocated the love affair with their team by selling out every home game since its inception in 1996.
520 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21230
601 E Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21202
1041 Marshall St
Baltimore, MD 21230
1113 S Charles St
Baltimore, MD 21230
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