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Volume 23 No. 18
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Ravens enlist help of diehard fans in season-ticket push

The Baltimore Ravens are trying out a new method of recruiting season-ticket holders that leans on some of their biggest fans.

The “Ravens Scouts” program is a “volunteer ticket sales force” that deploys a small group of devoted fans tasked with finding new opportunities to sell season tickets and group packages. “Scouts” will mine their networks, connecting with family, friends and colleagues to help the team broaden its reach, Ravens officials said. 

“We’re trying to take advantage of the market we’re in and the community here,” said Baker Koppelman, senior vice president of ticket sales and operations for the Ravens. “This is the kind of community where this can succeed, because we’re very close-knit and everybody knows somebody.”

The initiative is the latest measure the team is taking to bolster its season-ticket sales as the public’s ticket-buying habits change. The Ravens have seen season-ticket renewals tick down from 99% a few years ago to the mid-90s more recently, Koppelman said. The team as of last week had renewed more than 90% of its season tickets for 2019-20. 

Koppelman said the Ravens Scouts program is more of a proactive effort meant to help the team adapt to a growing secondary ticket market and the ever-present allure of watching football from the couch rather than in stadium seats.

“Our lifeblood is season tickets,” he said. “I think everybody in this town wants a sold-out stadium, an energetic crowd, because we know how that can impact the team on the field. Part of this is to provide a little bit of insurance to make that happen.” 

The Ravens also recently completed a three-year, $120 million update to M&T Bank Stadium as part of the push to get fans in the stands. Earlier this year, the team announced a new pricing system for single-game tickets that aims to align ticket prices more closely with their expected demand on the market. 

Ravens Scouts won’t be paid for their efforts but will be rewarded with team-related perks. Koppelman said possible incentives include tickets, trips to road games and player meet-ups. 

The inaugural group of 24 people has a roster that features some members of the greater Baltimore business community, including Hal Hackerman of Ellin & Tucker, Chris Helmrath of SC&H Capital, Scott Attman of Acme Paper & Supply, Nadege Lane of JLL and Craig Schulman of Evermore Cannabis Co. 

Scouts from the Washington, D.C., suburbs also have a strong presence in the group. Koppelman said Ravens research shows the team has a good number of fans in what’s traditionally considered Washington Redskins territory.

“Part of this is trying to grow our region a little bit,” he said. “Certainly we want to have a presence in the south, because we know we have fans in the south.” 

Koppelman hopes to grow the Ravens Scouts program over time to between 75 and 100 members, with “involvement throughout the region.” 

“We want to be as diverse as we can and have a group that really covers the spectrum of our fans,” he said. 

The team hasn’t set any specific goals for how many new ticket holders it hopes to bring in under the program, Koppelman said, though he noted that a similar effort from the Orioles — “Designated Hitters” — has had success in recruiting new fans since it was established in the 1970s. The Kansas City Royals have a volunteer program called the Royal Lancers, which started around the same time.

Koppelman hopes the Ravens Scouts becomes not only a ticket-selling effort but a social club for dedicated fans who want to help the team grow. 

“We’ve told them this is not intended to be a second job,” he said.

Amanda Yeager writes for the Baltimore Business Journal, an affiliated publication.