A $144 million upgrade of M&T Bank Stadium is going to alter the city skyline as well as the fan experience.
As part of the improvements planned for the 19-year-old facility, the Baltimore Ravens plan to light up the sky at night with four beams shooting high into the air.
The Ravens unveiled a rendering today showing that the lights would rise from the four corners of the stadium, where open “notches” currently allow spectators to look in and out of the seating bowl.
The beams would supplement the purple lights that illuminate the stadium exterior now. Rising hundreds of feet into the air, they’re reminiscent of the double beams of light that an artist devised to rise from the site of New York’s Twin Towers after they were toppled in a 2001 terror attack. The Baltimore lights would be visible from all over the city every night, not just on game days, and they could change in color.
Ravens president Dick Cass said the team realizes that M&T Bank Stadium marks an arrival point in the city for people traveling north on Russell Street. He said the lights are a civic gesture that will reinforce the building’s presence.
“It will be a new gateway into town,” he said. “It’s iconic. Whenever you pass the stadium, this is what you will see.”
The lighting plan is one of many features planned for M&T Bank Stadium by the Ravens and the building’s owner, the Maryland Stadium Authority. Other changes include a new sound system and high definition video displays, upgraded kitchen facilities and escalators and elevators to the upper deck.
The seating capacity, now 71,008, will increase slightly with the construction of eight new club suites that can hold 50 people each, for a total gain of 400. The Maryland Board of Public Works last week approved plans for up to $144 million worth of improvements, with the Ravens paying $120 million and the stadium authority covering the rest. The work will be carried out in phases during 2017, 2018 and 2019.
In a news conference today, Cass noted that the team is making the investment to keep the stadium up-to-date and remain competitive with newer facilities opening around the country, some costing upwards of $1 billion.
“Not only will these improvements keep the stadium fresh, but they will enrich our game day experience by delivering added convenience, entertainment and excitement,” Cass said. “We constantly strive to create a ‘wow’ factor for our fans.”
The stadium, which originally cost $220 million to build, opened in 1998. Since then, the Ravens have spent approximately $100 million on past enhancements, including a $45 million investment from 2013-15 to install Wi-Fi capabilities, advanced LED video displays, redesigned concession stands and upgraded concourses.
“We maintain the goal of providing consistent satisfaction for everyone who attends Ravens games and other events we host,” said Ravens senior vice president of stadium operations Roy Sommerhof. “We believe this is an important investment that will continue to make our venue one of the NFL’s best.”
Here are the improvements as outlined by the Ravens and the stadium authority. Populous is the architect for the latest improvements. Gilbane is the contractor for Phase One.
The following enhancements will be completed by the start of the 2017 NFL season:
- Video Displays: Two dramatic, 4K ultra-high definition video displays, which will double the width of the stadium’s current standard HD boards and remain positioned behind each end zone below the upper level. The boards will be approximately 200 feet wide and 36 feet high and have “the highest resolution and clearest picture of any stadium video display in the United States,” according to the franchise.
- An expanded audio/video control room and 4K cameras, lenses and control equipment. The Ravens have also invested in 11 manned cameras and additional robotic cameras to give fans more angles of live action, statistics and replays.
- Additional LED ribbon displays, which will be installed around the seating bowl’s suite level.
“The size and resolution of the new video boards will display breathtaking images, and the new 4K cameras, lenses, replay and graphics systems will enable us to cover the game like never before,” said Jay O’Brien, the Ravens director of broadcasting and gameday productions, in a statement.
Phases 2 and 3
Construction will begin after the 2017 and 2018 NFL seasons for each phase, respectively. Improvements will include:
- Escalators and Elevators: Escalators and elevators to the 500 level, which will “improve crowd flow and ensure convenience for fans accessing seats in the stadium’s upper level,” according to the franchise.
- “Corner Notch” Suites and video boards: New “double decker” suites will be built into each open notch of the stadium’s upper bowl. They’ll have two separate suites that each fit up to 50 people, or one double decker suite that fits 100 people. 4K ultra-high definition video boards (33 feet wide by 44 feet tall) will be installed above each of the four suites.
- Club Level: Upgrades to all concession stands, restrooms and bar areas and lounges on the stadium’s club level.
- Kitchen Facilities: The stadium will undergo kitchen renovations and an additional kitchen will be built to improve the quality of food and providing more options at concession stands.
- Sound System: Installation of a new sound system in the seating bowl.