Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Baltimore Sports, Two Inches & 15 Years

We had the great pleasure of having Dick Cass, President of the Baltimore Ravens speak to our Sports Leadership and Management class at Georgetown University, recently. Our students were treated to a marvelous presentation regarding the business of the NFL, as well as the importance of the local franchise. Dick was very thorough and our students learned from an important and respected sports executive, once again.

While we were all off paying attention to other things, there were a few important points that Dick made, regarding the Ravens franchise:

-The Ravens have been in the playoffs in 4 of the last 5 years. In three of those years, they made it through to the division round, at least. This is a remarkable achievement in a league that is ultra competitive. In a league where 12 teams make the playoffs, in the last several years there have been 5 new playoff teams each year! The Ravens have done well to be in that elite group of teams returning to the playoffs.

-Baltimore's market size is #27 in the country. Despite the market size, the Ravens have been in the top tier, even in the top 10 in team revenues among league teams. In a market that has NFL franchises to the immediate south, north and west, their territory is relatively small, by comparison to other markets. For example, Tampa is a top 15 market, with Orlando less than 100 miles away being a market that is about the same size as Baltimore in which it can claim television and marketing rights. The Ravens sellout their stadium, while the Buccaneers can go all season without a sell-out.

These points are illustrative of just how effective and efficient the Ravens franchise is run by it's current management team. The Ravens have only been in Baltimore since 1996, just over 15 years.

15 years ago, one could have said that the Orioles and Ravens were just "this much" apart.

Here in Baltimore we are often reminded that 15 years ago, the Orioles had their last winning season........For nearly 15 years prior the Ravens arrival, the Orioles had the market all to themselves, not another professional franchise in town. There was not even another MLB team within 150 miles.

The times have changed, but so has how we measure winning and losing.

Now, hold your thumb and index finger about two inches apart. That can be the difference between a winning and losing franchise in professional sport. In Baltimore, that small gap has become so much larger, 15 years later.

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