Ravens ‘Blessed’ To Have Passionate Fans

Owner Steve Bisciotti said the rest of the league is impressed with the Ravens’ fan base.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Categories: Garrett Downing

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the NFL’s youngest franchises, in one of the league’s smaller markets.

The franchise, however, has seen tremendous success in recent years, both as an organization and as a football team. 

“We are blessed to be in a small, but passionate market,” Owner Steve Bisciotti said at the league meetings this week. “My NFL partners and the NFL office are very impressed with our fan base. Constant sell outs. In the top half of the league in revenues, when we’re in the bottom half in population. Those are the things that I’m very proud of.”

Since coming into the league in 1996, the Ravens have sold out every home game and the team has made the playoffs in eight of the last 12 seasons.

Bisciotti recognizes that success on the field has translated to a growing fan base. 

“The only way you keep accumulating fans is to win,” he said. “I’m a realist: If we were to lose consistently, that would halt and maybe even start to retreat. I’m very cognizant of the fact that when we win, we have the ability to add more fans to our base, and we certainly need them because we’ve got a lot smaller margin of error than some of the big-market teams in the northeast.”

The Ravens are within 400 miles of some of the biggest markets and most successful and storied franchises. The Redskins, Giants, Jets, Steelers, Patriots and Eagles are all within that vicinity, and those six franchises have seven Super Bowl titles between them in the last 11 years.

The Ravens are also competing with the Redskins over the largely transient Washington, D.C. population. Many of the residents in the southern Maryland counties – Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Howard and Prince George’s – have moved to the region in recent years and work in the Washington area.

As newcomers to Maryland, they may not have a natural allegiance to the Ravens or Redskins.

“They’re up for grabs,” Bisciotti said. “We’re not stealing lifetime Redskins fans, but because of the transient nature of those four counties, we have [an] opportunity where we can compete on an even playing field when it just comes to winning over those fans.

“If they didn’t like our product then it would be natural for them to gravitate toward the Redskins.”

In addition to putting a winning product on the field, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh also talked at the owners meetings about the importance of connecting with the fan base, specifically in regards to training camp.

The Ravens made the decision this year to hold training camp at the team’s facility in Owings Mills, rather than going back to McDaniel College in Westminster, meaning that the practices would no longer be open to the public.

Missing that element will be a change for the fans and the team.

“The best part of training camp is the kids, and going over and hanging out with kids,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the best part of training camp.”

To recreate the intimate atmosphere that existed with training camp in Westminster, the Ravens are planning to hold three off-site practices open to the public, which will allow fans the chance to interact with coaches and players. The team is also planning to put together youth coaching clinics.

“We’re doing everything we can do to mitigate the fact that we don’t have training camp in Westminster,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got to recapture that [atmosphere]. We’ve got to find a way to do that in our three events. We have to do that, it’s important.”

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