For Immediate Release: August 7, 1998 - HOK Sport
The opening of the Baltimore Ravens' new NFL football stadium at Camden Yards celebrates the completion of a vision that dates to the mid-1980s, a time when the leaders of Baltimore saw an opportunity to revitalize a declining urban neighborhood with the addition of a separate football stadium and ballpark.
Reassembling many of the team members who designed the acclaimed Oriole Park at Camden Yarks, HOK Sport Facilities Group has designed a 68,915-seat stadium for the Baltimore Ravens that complements Oriole Park while capturing the distinctive essence of professional football. Since 1995 the Ravens have played their games in the historic Memorial Stadium. Construction for Memorial Stadium began in 1949 on the site of the original Baltimore Municipal Stadium but wasn't finished until 1954. The new stadium made its September 6, 1998 debut when the Ravens hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 1 p.m. soldout game.
"This is a one-of-a-kind design that matches the spirit of the city, team and spectoators to create a defining football experience," said Jim Chibnall, HOK Sport vice president and senior project designer. "This sports complex places Baltimore in the forefront of stadium design. It will have a leading role in further defining and shaping the image of Baltimore by creating a national reputation for sports entertainment and enjoyment and urban revitalization."
The side-by-side stadiums, separated by a 2,200-stall parking lot and service drive, create the second major sports complex in the United States. The Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City, MO., home of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, was the first baseball/football complex. But the Camden Yards Sports Complex is the first to offer twin stadiums in an urban setting.
Built adjacent to Oriole Park, the $220 million facility incorporates brick and exposed steel as well as reinforced concrete and glass. The stadium's facade has more than one million hand-laid bricks and 4,000 pieces of buff-colored architectural precast. Although the prominent archways at the stadium entrances recall Oriole Park, they are heavier and sturdier than Oriole Park's to reflect the power and ruggedness of the sport and athletes.
"This project is a tribute to the people of Baltimore and Maryland who influenced both buildings at Camden Yards in significant ways," said Steve Evans, HOK Sport vice president and project manager. "We did not feel that anything less than the best design for this community would be acceptable. The Maryland Stadium Authority and the Baltimore Ravens were our partners and believed that together as a team we could accomplish another memorable, civic milestone for Baltimore. I believe we did just that."
The firm, known for such design innovations as club seats and upscale lounges and many other amenities, adds to its impressive list a design feature that separates the upper deck into four individual sections. The notches in the seating bowl imitate the letter "V", which the Ravens have nicknamed victory notches. But, these notches play a vital role in the stadium's design. Ticket holders get stunning views of Baltimore's downtown skyline and feel a significant sense of location and connection to the city, while passer-byers are allowed exciting glimpses of the activity. The design innovation also allowed the designers the opportunity to create better sightlines and eliminate the unpopular corner endzone seating.
Baltimore is the first NFL stadium that breaks up the upper concourse into four distinct areas. This is a design feature currently being imitated at other NFL stadiums under construction.
"After years of stadium design that kept the spectators confined within the oval seating bowl, the notched upper deck is an exciting change," said Dennis Wellner, HOK Sport senior vice president and principal-in-charge. "This unprecedented design innovation really raises the level of stadium design expectations."
Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium is located within the south end of the Camden Yards complex, the world's premiere dual stadium complex. The site is surrounded on all sides by elevated roadways, including I-95 and I-395 ramps (plus an extension of the Light Rail line) to the east, the Ostend Street Bridge to the south and the Russell Street viaduct to the west.
From the South (Airport and Washington, D.C.) I-95 North toward Baltimore. Take Exit 52 to Russell Street (heading North). The stadium is on the right.
From the North:
I-83 South (towards Baltimore) to Lombard Street, turn right. Turn left (south) onto Greene Street. The stadium is on the left.
From the Northeast:
I-95 South through the Ft. McHenry Tunnel. Take I-395 towards Baltimore. Take Exit 53 to Russell Street (bearing right). Turn left onto Lee St., then left on Russell Street. The stadium is on the left.
In another unprecedented design innovations, HOK Sport moved the three pedestrian ramps inside the exterior skin of the stadim. By doing this, an atmosphere of anticipation is created as ticketholders enter the stadium and ascend the ramps to their seats. In many NFL stadiums these pedestrian ramps are located on the outside of the building and create a sense of separateness from the activity.
"Typically, stadium designers do not take their inspiration from ballparks. But we could not ignore the tremendous impact Oriole Park has on this sports complex," said Ron Labinski, HOK Sport senior vice president and project adviser. "The football stadium fits gracefully into the context of its historic neighborhood, while providing a high-energy catalyst to continue the revitalization of the area." Designers added lush trees and greenery around the venue, making a parklike setting as people approach the stadium.
The NFL facility is the crowning touch of a 1998 masterplan for the 85-acre site that proposed integrating two stadiums into the urban neighborhood.
RK&K - Subconsultant
As a subconsultant to the Maryland Stadium Authority and HOK Sport Facilities Group, is RK&K which is providing geotechnical engineering, civil/site design, structural engineering and utility design for this fast-track project. In addition, RK&K is providing consultant services to address transportation access, bus transit and parking issues for the 1996-1997 seasons at Memorial Stadium as well as at the new M&T Bank Stadium. RK&K also served as the meeting coordinator for several critical issues including advance utility contracts, transportation access needs and stadium parking requirements.
Civil/Site: RK&Ks civil/site design activities encompassed all aspects of site design including parking layouts for approximately 350 spaces, erosion/sediment control design for numerous construction phases, site grading, stormwater management/bio-retention facility design to satisfy both the Maryland Department of the Environment, and the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission, coordination of site engineering with pedestrian accessways and landscape treatment.
Utility: RK&K prepared construction documents for the Advance Utility Relocation contracts in a three month period. Regularly scheduled review meetings with City and private utility owners facilitated approval of the designs. The utility relocations included 2,000 feet of 20-inch water main, 2,300 feet of storm drain and 3,000 feet of electric ductbank. Of special interest was the replacement of the 90-year old Fremont Drain with an 8x4' precast box culvert located directly underneath the football stadium.
Structural: RK&K designed the loading dock truck ramp and adjacent retaining walls for the M&T Bank Stadium. The concrete truck ramp provides access from the stadium perimeter road to the underground loading dock. The pile foundations for the retaining walls required thorough coordination with numerous underground utility systems. RK&K also prepared structural design for the 8x4' precast box culvert under the stadium with special design details to minimize leakage through the joints.
Construction Manager: Whiting-Turner/Barton Malow/Essex
Engineer: Ross Murphy Finkelstein, Incorporated
July 16, 1998 (Reuters)
Toilet Humor - (BALTIMORE) -- More than 600 football fans flushed on command today to see if the toilets in Baltimore's new NFL stadium could withstand a half-time rush. They did, and the stadium was pronounced in midseason form. Gary Parks of Hunstville, Alabama, came with his son-in-law, who had won passes for the big flush in a radio call-in contest. "People will ask me what did I do in Baltimore," Parks said. "I went to the stadium and flushed some toilets."
July 17, 1998 (Reuters)
Ravens Unveil Video Scoreboards - (BALTIMORE) -- The next generation of stadium scoreboards will greet Baltimore Ravens fans this season as they watch the team in the city's new pro football stadium. The Ravens have unveiled their ten-Million-dollar video and sound system. The 24-foot-high SACO Smartvision boards stretch 100-feet across the stadium above each end zone. Owner Art Modell says they provide fans everywhere in the stadium with an experience that canNOT be duplicated by watching on T-V. Modell's Hollywood producer son, John, joined forces with his father to design the system. John Modell says his crew produces videos that look like wide-screen movies... using high-definition T-V technology.
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
October 24, 2004 - Expectations were high for us as we made the trek to Baltimore to see our Buffalo Bills play the Ravens and see this companion facility to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the first time. But we were not prepared for this - a totally spectacular football venue, easily amongst the absolute best in the NFL. And on our return visit in 2004 just confirmed our initial impressions, that Baltimore continues to rank among the elite in the NFL
|M&T Bank Stadium Ranking by USRT|
|Fan Support|| 6|
|Concourses/Fan Comfort|| 8|
|Bonus: Tailgate Scene|| 3|
|Bonus: Inner Harbor|| 1|
|Bonus: Colts Banner|| 1|
|Bonus: "Don't Be a Jerk" Video|| 1|
|Total Score|| 71|
M&T Bank Stadium opened for the 1998 season, and the promise of this publicly financed facility was the primary reason why Art Modell took his franchise away from Cleveland and its wretched stadium and here into Baltimore.
Getting to the Venue
The stadium is on the fringes of downtown and accessible by expressways and public transit. Numerous private lots surround the stadium, and plenty of people come down to tailgate, thus creating a festive outside atmosphere. Quite a few of the nearby lots are reserved for permit holders, but surface lots and ramps are plentiful throughout the Inner Harbor area in downtown Baltimore. Prepare to shell out at least $15 and as much as $35 to park. Another great way to get down here is to park and ride the light rail system or MARC trains which takes you right to the doors of the stadium.
Outside the Venue
Connecting the stadium and the adjacent ballpark is a brick paved walk of fame decorated with banners on the poles of Ravens players and Orioles greats. Here one can find entertainers, the marching band warming up, radio stations passing out promotional items, and a complete carnival atmosphere. Absolutely awesome. Besides tailgating, plenty of fans come down early to hang out and enjoy the atmosphere. Salted pretzels, jumbo sized, seems to be the food staple sold outside the venue.
The exterior of the stadium sports a brick and glass facade and is surrounded by a spacious outdoor plaza aptly named the Johnny Unitas Plaza.
Concourses are very roomy and the lower concourse is decorated by over sized backlit advertising panels. On our first visit, we had club seats and we were overwhelmed with the opulence and roominess of the entire club level - carpeted, with numerous restaurants, bars, lounge areas with television monitors, and total comfort and luxury. Escalators take club seat holders to the 200 level, but the upper level is served only by ramps and stairs. Plenty of room to easily navigate the building.
Absolutely stunning! The seats are all colored in Ravens purple,with the club seats a matching gray, and dominating each end zone is a Smartvision video board, among the largest we have seen in the NFL. Unlike some stadiums which position these boards high above the seating bowl, here in Baltimore the video boards hang at club level, thus providing a closer viewing experience. Surrounding the club level balcony is a smart combination of digital LED boards, synchronized ad panels and dot matrix boards all working in unison. The Ravens do a great job with video clips, highlight reels and special effects to keep the fans entertained.
Good food selection. On the club level the crab cakes were really great! Daiquiri bars weren't bad either! Concession items include Papa Johns Pizza, steak hoagies, various brands of Esskay hot dogs and brats, and dessert carts including some sort of mini pumpkin pies. Food items are on the pricey side though, prepare to shell out some bucks.
Since our first visit, the Ravens have added a "Ring of Honor" to celebrate their history. Owner Art Modell, Earnest Byner and Michael McCreary are the first honorees. Most significantly, the Ravens also reserve a place of honor for "Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts", celebrating the retired numbers of the city's first NFL franchise. The Ravens also list their 2000 World Championship along with their division titles.
Touchdowns, Extra Points, Fumbles...
Touchdown - Before the game, the team outlines their fan courtesy policies on the video board and implore fans to behave and everyone to have a good time. The crowd joins in shouting the last phrase "Don't Be A Jerk!". We wore visiting Bills colors and were treated well and welcomed by all who we encountered. Very nice!
Extra Point - The Baltimore Marching Band, the in house band for the team entertains outside before the game and during the game as well. This tradition goes back to Colts days at Memorial Stadium.
Touchdown - with music of chains clanging, the "Chain Gang" sitting in one lower corner leads the cheer of "move those chains" each time the Ravens get a first down.
Extra Point - We saw our Bills play here on both of our visits,and our guys turned in wretched performances each time, but with different results. On the first trip our Bills pulled it out 13-10 despite a horrible day by Doug Flutie, and we went home happy. Fast forward to 2004 and Drew Bledsoe yucks it up with 5 turnovers, and this time the Ravens prevail 20-6, but we go home... happy??? Hey, it's Baltimore... Inner Harbor, great downtown, great sports venues, always a nice trip here!!
Newer venues have opened in the NFL since this one, but M&T Bank Stadium still stands head and shoulders above its peers. Spectacular architecture fitting in with the Camden Yards district, a great downtown location, a world class American city with a pulse and an energetic beat, and fans who love their football and who have consistently sold out Ravens games since this franchise hit town. If we're lucky enough to score some tickets, we will be glad to come back anytime!
October 8, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
The Maryland Stadium Authority has approved a plan to borrow $24 million to pay for renovations and repairs to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, as well as upgrading the video scoreboard and video control room at M&T Bank Stadium. Of that money, $10 million will go toward maintenance and safety upgrades at Oriole Park, $10 million will go toward renovating and repairing the seating bowl, and $4 million will go toward replacing the new scoreboards for the Ravens. The bonds will be repaid by setting aside the first $1.3 million each
year that the Maryland Stadium Authority receives from the state lottery. The Ravens are contributing $6 million toward the video scoreboard and control room part of the project. After a study that included input from the Ravens, the authority decided to go forward with a plan to add high-definition video boards similar to the ones inside Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets.