SBJ/Sept. 30-Oct. 7, 2013/NFL Stadium Experience

Ravens roll out small-town feel

The Ravens’ first home game this season seemed a celebration of all things Baltimore as much as anything else. The team’s first home game since winning Super Bowl XLVII had the appearance of a local festival at times. Less than two hours before the game, the outside of M&T Bank Stadium was a sea of purple, visiting sponsor tents, listening to an outdoor concert and generally milling around.

Inside a stadium named for a bank based in Baltimore, there was a distinct Charm City feel to the game. An Under Armour ad played on the big video board several times during the game. (“Will you protect this house?” “I will! I will!”) Under Armour, of course, is based in Baltimore. The Maryland Lottery bought a 30-second commercial that ran during the third quarter. And Baltimore-based McCormick bought a sponsorship on the video board in the fourth quarter.

Granted, plenty of national brands aired their messages in the stadium (the Gatorade game highlights, Verizon presents NFL RedZone, Ruth’s Chris Steak House’s Sizzling Scenes). But it was the local brands that really seemed to stand out among the sponsor clutter. It all added to a small-town feel around a game from one of the world’s biggest leagues.

Throw in the Baltimore Marching Ravens band, on top of the T. Rowe Price QB challenge with local prep football stars, and the scene evoked certain Norman Rockwell images. It’s not easy for teams to foster that type of community around NFL games, especially given the amount of alcohol consumed and the number of boys behaving badly in the stands, and there certainly was some of that at M&T Bank Stadium.

But the Ravens were able to tap into a small-town feel throughout.

— John Ourand

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