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Posted: Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:49AM; Updated: Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:49AM
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NFL Fan Value Experience
5 Baltimore Ravens
M&T BANK STADIUM :: Opened 1998 :: Capacity 70,107

Chris McGrath/Getty Images
 
TICKETS
Average Price Per Ticket $77.20
Price Range Of Tickets $50-$345
Ticket Availability Games sold out since beginning of 1996 season.
This is a "fierce" group whose "loud participation, especially during key plays," can be "deafening while the defense is on the field." "Everyone gets on their feet on big drives and on third downs." "If you fed gerbils a pot of coffee, they wouldn't be as frantic" as this "sea of purple and white" is "at kickoff." The "fans are intense" and "nasty enough to let visitors know we don't like them, but not so much that people often leave in handcuffs (or on stretchers)." That zealotry does, however, produce "comments that would make your grandmother blush." "This is not a place to take anybody under the age of 18 who cannot defend himself." "Most fans are well-behaved, but some are clearly drunk" and belligerent." "If you cheer for the visiting team, you'll get destroyed, especially in the upper deck." Ravens fans aren't much easier on their own team. "If the Ravens are down by two scores, fair-weather doesn't even begin to describe the shift in atmosphere" in a crowd some feel is "too quick to boo." "Baltimore fans are some of the most passionate you'll find in the league; it's why M&T bank Stadium is always a tough play to play for opposing teams."
SCORE 6 out of 10
 
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Hot Dog $4.00
Soda (32 oz.) $5.00
Beer (24 oz.) $7.00
Expected Meal Cost $10-$15
Program $0
Cap $14.00
"There are a number of local eatery spots," many of which "serve crab cakes." Notably, Attman's Deli, "a Baltimore institution," has gained a reputation for its "famous corned beef and pastrami sandwiches," and the "Talon Pub draws crowds for halftime drinks." Chains such as Papa John's and Subway also line the "pricey" concourses, where "a beer can set you back $7." The pain of those prices are mitigated some by the "many carts selling miocrobrews and specialty beers." For those on the club level, "several full-service lounges offer something for every taste and thirst." "With so many great bars and restaurants in the area", though, "in-stadium food is not really a concern."
SCORE 6 out of 10
 
ACCESSIBILITY
Parking $25
"With exits directly into the parking lots off of I-95," and "numerous downtown streets leading right up to the stadium" "it's so easy to drive into the stadium." "Stop lights are numerous, but traffic flows pretty well" despite "very poor coordination of traffic by Baltimore police." "It's downtown, so traffic is rarely easy," especially with "a lot of one-way streets" and "foot traffic" from the "touristy areas" at the nearby Inner Harbor. "There's plenty of parking" at a lot shared with Oriole Park at Camden Yards and "getting in is even easier if you park a few blocks away" at "multiple parking garages near the stadium." Easiest of all might be a "great light-rail system" that brings fans from as far as Washington, D.C., and "deposits" them "right outside the stadium."
SCORE 6 out of 10
 
TAILGATING
"Surrounded by a flood of purple, RVs, grills and Ravens' flags," the lots near the stadium "resemble a Ravens village" that is "packed from the second they open five hours before the game." With "stadium tailgate lots," "team-sponsored events," "bars" and "street parties" all at a fan's disposal, there's "enough variety for you to do something different for every game." Tailgates offer "regional food" such as "crab cakes" and "oysters" or more traditional fare such as "hamburgers and ribs," and "even pancakes in the morning," for an equal variety of dining options. But "in Baltimore, it's not about the food; it's about meeting like-minded friends and having a party," and "lots of cold beer makes the taste of the food a moot point." Indeed, "a lot of people walk from nearby downtown neighborhoods just to tailgate and then walk to local bars to watch the game." "For a downtown stadium" "there isn't much more you could ask for."
SCORE 8 out of 10
 
TEAM
Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis :: Jim Rogash/WireImage.com
Record through Week 9 4-4
Players Worth Watching Willis McGahee (WR), Derrick Mason (WR), Ray Lewis (LB), Ed Reed (S)
SCORE 5 out of 10
 
STADIUM ATMOSPHERE
Though a relative newcomer, M&T Bank stadium exudes a "classic Baltimore" feel. A bronze "statue of Johnny Unitas greets you on the way in the main gate" and fans have taken to rubbing one of the figure's cleats before games as a good-luck ritual, "brick and steel architecture" blend in with the same elements used at Oriole Park at Camden Yards next door (and across much of the city, too) and "open corners in the upper deck" "expose the city's skyline" "reminding you that you're in the middle of downtown." Aside from "purple seats," the interior is "all about football, not frilly amusements". "Every seat in the stadium has an unobstructed view of the field;" "dual mega screens" -- measuring 120 feet long each -- "allow for great view of live action or replays." "The stadium has no open seats, making it feel like a huge wall of people and noise" and the "sound system is as good as any in the league." Like many true football facilities of the past, however, Ravens fans are asked to compromise a little for the greater good that is the NFL. The upper deck is "steep" and is only accessible via "long, long, long ramps." "Woefully few men's rooms" mean it's "not uncommon to see guys urinating in the sinks," "Three levels of club and luxury seats" further tax the tolerance of average fans by "removing the upper deck from the action." As inconvenient as those design elements are, those are burdens most appear willing to bear for the "real football-feel" of the place.
SCORE 9 out of 10
 
NEIGHBORHOOD
"Blocks from the Inner Harbor", Baltimore's famed collection of shops, restaurants and museums on an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay," M&T Bank Stadium is located in one of the "safest parts of the city." It's "touristy" but "attractions, including the National Aquarium" and "plenty of bars and restaurants on the waterfront" make the Inner-Harbor area "a must see." "Right next to the Ravens' home is the Orioles' "Camden Yards in an area that has been renovated into a chic part of town over the last 20 years," complete with "classy hotels and an apartment building." "But like a lot of Baltimore, if you head down the wrong street" you could find "some pretty seedy areas." For the most part, though, the "warehouses and businesses" of the "industrial district" bordering the stadium offer a "perfectly safe," "blue-collar" complement to the "white collar" area near the water.
SCORE 8 out of 10
 
BOTTOM LINE
M&T Bank Stadium offers a fan-pleasing mix of the old and the new. Lights and buzzers are kept to a minimum while the design reflects not only the city outside its walls, but the Colts team with which much of the city identifies. At the same time, seats are comfortable, the video replay screens are gargantuan and the dining options well beyond hot dogs and hamburgers. Ravens fans on the whole return the favor by cheering on the team with a fervor matched by few NFL fan bases. Unfortunately, more than a few find that zealotry crosses into boorishness or outright harassment. That's a shame, because that isn't the type of fan history suggests Baltimore produces, nor the kind the Ravens' comfortable, unpretentious home encourages
FINAL SCORE 48 out of 70
 
 

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