Leading up to the 2018 NFL season, M&T Bank Stadium and Raymond James Stadium have been receiving the latest upgrades in their ongoing renovations. For their respective teams—the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers—the renovations effectively modernize facilities that are turning 20 years old.
M&T Bank Stadium (then known as Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards) and Raymond James Stadium both opened in 1998. Two decades later, it can be argued that the two stadiums have fulfilled the ambitions of their respective teams. For the Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium has been the modern NFL facility that Baltimore sought for decades and played an integral part in cementing the franchise’s place in the city. Raymond James Stadium, meanwhile, has been a worthy home for the Buccaneers in addition to serving as a draw for major events in the Tampa Bay region, including two Super Bowls (a third is on the way in 2021).
Yet, with most stadiums from that era having been renovated or eyed for a replacement in recent years, both teams have made upgrades to keep their facilities competitive. Those improvements will be evident at both M&T Bank Stadium and Raymond James Stadium in 2018 and should position the venues to remain viable going forward.
The Buccaneers have been renovating Raymond James Stadium for the last several years, continuing with this offseason’s overhaul of the East Stadium Club and Atrium. That includes the addition of Bar 76, a 10,000-square foot restaurant and bar that will be located in the East Stadium Club atrium, along with two new bar areas at each end of the club lounge, the addition of more than 160 HDTVs, and a new audio system.
That follows upgrades that were completed in previous years as part of a $160 million renovation project. In 2017, the West Stadium Club underwent a renovation that resembled what has been taking place in the East Stadium Club, while two new main video displays highlighted a round of technology improvements completed before the 2016 season.
In a sense, the Raymond James Stadium renovations allow it to keep pace with modern facilities and provide a more comfortable experience (especially in premium areas). How the renovations affect the stadium’s chances of landing a Super Bowl after Super Bowl LV in 2021 remains to be seen, but they certainly cannot hurt.
At M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens are working with a slightly different situation. The cold-weather environment almost assures that the open-air M&T Bank Stadium will not compete for a Super Bowl, though it is used for other sporting events and the occasional large outdoor concert. With their $120 million investment in the facility, the Ravens are focusing on several areas—particularly access and technology—that should make the gameday experience more comfortable.
Last year saw the Ravens install two new main videoboards and LED ribbons, and the technology upgrades are continuing into this year. New corner videoboards are being added within the stadium and are part of a project that will include new “corner notch” suites. Meanwhile, the Ravens have upgraded M&T Bank Stadium’s WiFi network, a move that not only helps fans stay more connected while they are at the game but assists the team as it implements a new digital ticketing program. Escalators and elevators to the 500 level are being installed, with the first escalator set to open in October.
Those improvements, along with future upgrades to the club level and kitchen facilities, should make M&T Bank Stadium a more modern facility once the final rounds of renovations conclude. In addition, the Ravens have announced an initiative to reduce concession prices that takes effect this year.
Overall, M&T Bank Stadium and Raymond James Stadium are unique facilities that face distinct challenges going forward. However, as both turn 20, the Ravens and Buccaneers are using similar blueprints by upgrading the stadiums through renovations that affect the fan experience through technology, premium areas, and other amenities.
Renderings courtesy Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens.