The days when fans came to the games just to watch their favourite players in action, and went home right after the final whistle was blown, are long gone. Now spectators expect much more entertainment accompanying the NFL match. These new circumstances are well understood in Baltimore.
In the largest city in the state of Maryland, the operator of the two most important stadiums wants to spend as much as $1.2 billion on renovations. It's about the arenas of the NFL's Ravens and Major League Baseball's Orioles. This approach differs from that in Las Vegas, where a completely new facility was built for the Raiders. The same was done in Los Angeles, with a stadium built from scratch for the Chargers and Rams.
At the moment it is difficult to predict what changes will take place at the Ravens Stadium, as we only have a draft of the upcoming improvements. Perhaps, if permitted by law, some sports gambling lounges can be installed there, and if not, fans can always check where and on what terms it is possible to bet on football when trying out online gambling in the United States.
M&T Bank Stadium, which is the home of the Baltimore Ravens, has been in existence since 1998. In the last decade, it underwent smaller and larger modernisations. The last, more serious one took place in 2016-2019, when $120 million was spent on the upgrades. In total, well over $200 million has been paid to cover renovations costs since the inauguration of the venue.
All improvements planned for the coming years must be made within the existing stadium. We already know that in Baltimore there will definitely not be a completely new arena for the NFL games, because no one will invest well over $1 billion on just one facility.
On the Ravens wish list are new premium seats on the lower level and better access to the growing Warner Street corridor. The franchise is working with Populous, a sports architecture company that was involved in the previous M&T Bank Stadium revamp. The new amenities in the arena are expected to bring additional financial benefits to Ravens and will be a fundamental part of their long-term business strategy.
Upgrading the stadium is absolutely necessary to keep the NFL in the city. There is no need to joke about that. Suffice it to recall the story from almost 40 years ago, when Baltimore lost the NFL franchise to Indianapolis. In March 1984, the Colts moved to Indy after failing to convince the Baltimore officials to modernise their well-worn Memorial Stadium.
It is difficult to say at this point what the final financing model for the renovation of the Ravens stadium will be. What is certain is that a large part of the costs, if not most, will be borne by local taxpayers.
The franchise officials are conducting preliminary talks with the relevant authorities regarding the extension of the stadium's lease agreement as the old one expires in 5 years. It may be a lot of time, but it is worth having this contract extended now so that the Baltimore Ravens can plan long-term stadium investments. As a result, the Maryland Stadium Authority, which is the stadium operator, could now apply to the state authorities for approval to borrow $1.2 billion to pay for the redevelopment of the venue.