Just because the Ravens won the Super Bowl doesn’t mean they’re content sitting on their laurels.
On Thursday, Team President Dick Cass announced a two-year, $35 million project to drastically upgrade M&T Bank Stadium mainly with improvements to video boards, concession stands and all concourses.
The project has been in the works for a year and the first phase, which includes the lower concourse and video boards, is expected to be completed by the start of the 2013 preseason, even though it’s on a tight schedule. The second phase, including upgrading the upper concourse, is scheduled to begin in 2014.
“Obviously we’re competing against the home viewing experience, so we have to do everything we can to keep improving the gameday experience,” Cass said.
The project is being paid for by the Ravens organization, not the Maryland Stadium Authority.
The Ravens have called M&T Bank Stadium home for 15 years and put millions of dollars into improvements. Although 17 teams from around the league are in newer stadiums, M&T Bank Stadium is still regarded as one of the NFL’s top venues. The Ravens have sold out every one of their games in the stadium.
The organization has typically spent about $4 to $5 million each year in stadium upgrades under Owner Steve Bisciotti. That investment will be more extensive this offseason.
“It’s a never-ending process,” Cass said. “This is a bigger step than that, but I don’t expect any slow-down.”
Here’s a more detailed look at what will be improved:
- The main concourse that currently features concrete columns will be wrapped with brick and steel. There will be LED lights added to each of the pillars that will shine mostly purple beams of light.
- Vice President of Stadium Operations Roy Sommerhof: “I think what we’ve done in bringing the brick and steel inside the building will warm the building up, but will really give a sense of the Camden Yards experience inside the stadium. … You’re going to know you’re in Ravens country.”
- Cass: “I think the outside of our stadium and the outside of Oriole Park are really attractive and nice, and they fit into the city and fit well with the warehouse building. Then you come inside our stadium, inside M&T Bank Stadium’s lower concourse, and it looks like you’re in a different world. We’re trying to bring the outside into the interior of the building.”
- Two high-definition video boards measuring eight feet tall and 30 feet wide will be installed at the Gate A and Gate D entrances so fans can watch other games being played or get Ravens video or information upon entering the stadium. “It’s really a way of jolting you to remind you that you are now at the home of the Ravens,” Cass said.
- Four new LED boards will replace the static boards on each side of the RavensVision HD video boards behind each end zone. They will allow the team to display more scores and stats from around the league (including fantasy football stats), as well as more creative replays and video.
- New LED ribbon boards around the entire seating bowl that will display a crisper image.
- All 16 lower concourse concession stands will be upgraded by making them bigger in appearance and moving the preparation to the public view. It’s an open-kitchen concept not prevalent around the NFL that will improve the freshness and quality of the food.
- Concession stands will get digital menu boards and upgrades to the payment system that should speed up the process.
- The new concessions allow for changes to the menu on a game-to-game or season-to-season basis, according to ARAMARK General Manager Joe Arena. He did not announce any new menu items.
- The four team stores will be slightly increased in size and updated appearances. That will allow more merchandise in the stores. They will also have faster check-out to cut down on lines.
- Local artwork featuring Baltimore and the Ravens will be added throughout the interior of the stadium. Beginning in 2014, stadium suites will also be upgraded.
- Specialty areas, such as the lower concourse’s Barcardi Bar and Talon Pub, will be renovated with design upgrades.