Photograph courtesy of Scott Suchman
Only two NFL franchises each year enjoy the extended benefits—added revenues, increased exposure, fan satisfaction—that a Super Bowl appearance provides. For the team both good—and perhaps a bit lucky—enough to prevail in the big game, the windfalls for the organization and its city are presumed to be even greater. But how much greater?
The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers to claim their second championship—the team’s first in 12 years—in Super Bowl XLVII. The long period in between victories created a heightened sense of excitement for those in the greater Baltimore area. Customers motivated by game-related deals helped drive business during a normally slow period for consumer sales, and the game broadcast set record-breaking ratings numbers. More than 200,000 purple-clad fans welcomed the team back from New Orleans for a victory parade where players and coaches were given heroes’ welcomes by Baltimore’s civic leaders. Optimism and a general sense of goodwill have prevailed throughout the region since.
But will this sense of pride translate into measurable economic gains for the Ravens and Baltimore—and if so, how long will they last? This month’s feature explores the lasting impacts of the Ravens’ victory. Ed Burchell, Ravens vice president for regional partnerships and sales, considers what the victory means for his organization and its future. J. Thomas Sadowski, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, addresses the immediate and lasting effects of the Super Bowl run from a regional economic perspective. Finally, John Michel, Ph.D., assistant professor of management and international business at the Sellinger School of Business and Management, examines how the Ravens’ performance has affected and will continue to influence attitudes among Baltimore- area residents.
How do you leverage the Super Bowl for your work in the long run and how long do you expect the impacts of the victory to last?
Other than our organizational leadership, we will do our best to leverage our Super Bowl victory in a way to communicate the Ravens’ ongoing commitment to excellence in producing the best product that we can provide, both on and off the field. In many ways, it further validates to all of us that we are clearly on the right path of performance and achievement over a long period of time. We have been fortunate to have made the playoffs in each of the past five years and the AFC Championship in three of those years. We are humbled and proud to represent this great city and region. We have the unique ability to positively impact how our fans, our partners, and the future of our franchise—our youth—feel about themselves, this city and region, and we must continue to steward this opportunity with great responsibility. To see our fans’ and business partners’ energy throughout the season, especially at M&T Bank Stadium and during the playoff run, is inspiring. The energy and enthusiasm of the send-off celebration at the Inner Harbor, and then the parade and M&T Bank Stadium celebration after our victory, was incomparable. I have never witnessed anything like it. The fact that we were able to deliver to our fans a World Championship was unbelievable and very rewarding. I was raised in Baltimore, and the memories of the victory will be ever-lasting. Hopefully we can produce another similar memory in the near future.
How does the victory change any partnerships or relationships you have established with the business community? Are there any new doors opening or opportunities for enhanced partnerships?
We have been fortunate on both the local/regional as well as national level to work with great companies. Our business relationships and partnerships are a part of the fabric of what makes us successful along with the energy and commitment of our fan base. Our partners’ (suiteholders, sponsors, partners, PSL holders) investment in us financially, emotionally, as well as in the community is why we have been successful over the past 16-17 years. We have to continue to produce for them and we are confident that we will be able to continue to build our relationships with them into the future. The victory can only strengthen these relationships with our partners. We are fortunate to have great leadership in our organization—owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, head coach John Harbaugh—and across the board at every level which we believe, along with our steadfast commitment to performance, will certainly open doors for us with new relationship opportunities. The victory will help us to extend our brand in the regional market and nationally and create new opportunities for the Ravens organization.
Are there any challenges from an organizational perspective, such as short-term costs, to making and winning the Super Bowl? If so, do the implications for the long-run outweigh them?
Organizationally, making our way into and through the playoffs creates many demands on the entire organization. Everyone pulled together to make sure we were prepared for a home playoff game, and then for away playoff games, and advanced planning in New Orleans if we were fortunate to have that opportunity. It is a tremendous challenge for the organization to plan, execute, and produce an excellent result both within our football and business operations. It took every Raven associate to make it happen, which is why it was also so special. In addition to the organizational challenge, there are short- term costs that come with the territory, which are hard to recover. However, the long-term benefit far exceeds any short-term costs. It is important to remember that the Baltimore Ravens organization is a private company in a national landscape. With our ownership and leadership, we are fortunate to be able to work toward long-term opportunities and solutions while we move through our short-term goals and challenges. The long-term benefits far exceed any short-term costs. We would be more than happy to have this situation any year.
Are there particular industries that stand to perform well in the short-term as a result of the victory? Are there any that may enjoy long-term positive impacts?
In the very immediate short-term, many bars and restaurants around Baltimore saw a boost on the night of the Super Bowl. Pictures of Federal Hill and Canton show huge crowds of people, many of whom were at the local establishments before and after the celebration. The victory parade brought a couple hundred thousand people into Baltimore who had to eat during the day. A lot of the money spent on those days was from people in the region who would have spent their money here anyway, but there was likely an increase in what people would normally spend.
The retail industry will also see a positive impact in the short term. Because of the victory, stores have Super Bowl XLVII Champion shirts to sell that otherwise would have been in San Francisco. Local wholesalers that design and screen print their own Super Bowl shirts will see a boost, too.
Positive long-term effects are harder to discern. Most of the long-run gains will be driven by positive externalities, such as people wanting to be near or associated with the Super Bowl champions. Maybe some out-of-town fans were created during the game who will want to see an open day of training camp or a game in Baltimore next year.
At the end of the day, there is no price one can put on the value of the enhanced sense of team and community pride that has resulted and the rise in national profile of our market.
The economic impact of the Super Bowl on the host city is a topic that has come under recent scrutiny –some see it as a straightforward boon while others argue the economic boost is inflated. Less coverage, however, is devoted to the economic impact on the winning team’s city or region. What effects have you seen thus far as a result of the Ravens’ victory?
The average game watcher this year spent about $70 on Super Bowl parties, a number probably higher here in Baltimore. That gives us a solid baseline to work with. This year’s Super Bowl was the most watched Super Bowl, and the most watched TV show ever, with over 164 million viewers total. One and a half million of those viewers were in Baltimore, a local record. Based on those numbers, we would expect at least $105 million to have been spent on the Super Bowl in Baltimore alone—likely more.
The hidden effect is in the games leading up to the Super Bowl. To get there, the Ravens had to beat the Broncos and the Patriots, and both of those games drew people to restaurants and parties. Beating the Patriots also gave the Ravens the title of AFC Champion, meaning there was an entire stock of apparel to be sold by retail stores. The nature of those games is smaller though, so consumer expenditure on those games is probably far less.
It can be difficult to estimate how much of that would have been spent on the Super Bowl and in the region without the Ravens playing, but we are probably safe in assuming that fans here spent more than they otherwise would have to watch their team win the big one.
Another difficult-to-quantify but important aspect to the Ravens’ victory is the free positive exposure the city received. The Today Show was in the Inner Harbor for the send-off and national media outlets like ESPN covered the parade and post-game celebrations. These cast a very positive light on the city in a way that can’t be bought. People now associate Baltimore with the fun activity that surrounds and supports their football team in a very organic way.
How much of this impact can be directly measured to the Ravens’ victory? In other words, how does economic data compare now to this time last year or in the few preceding years?
Last year, each Super Bowl viewer spent an average of $63.87 on watching the Super Bowl, and not nearly as many people in Baltimore tuned in to the game. That $63 is also a national average and was probably buoyed by spending in New York and Boston. Viewers in Baltimore could have spent less than that. Even if the same number of people in Baltimore watched and spent the national average, the consumer expenditure in Baltimore would have been $95,805,000 – a full $10 million less than this year. That estimation for last year is the max, and the estimation for this year is the minimum: people in Baltimore spent at least $10 million more to watch the Ravens.
Last year, we didn’t have AFC Champion or Super Bowl Champion shirts to sell either. It’s hard to put an exact number on those sales this year, but the fact that we can make the sales at all means that the region is seeing a boost just from the Ravens’ victory.
John Michel, Ph.D.
Is the Ravens' Super Bowl run a legitimate source of widespread optimism among the team's fan base and/or Baltimore in general? If so, how will that optimism impact the local economy in the short term and long term?
The experience that fans take from things like winning teams isn’t really optimism, but rather general happiness or psychological well-being. This is not to say that some will not become more optimistic about whether or not the Ravens will win games. Optimism refers to an expectation that actions will lead to a specific outcome. So I would say that the players on the Ravens are optimistic about their ability to win.
What other people really experience in important victories, like Super Bowl wins, is a sense of happiness or general satisfaction with their lives, which has a strong impact on our behavior and attitudes. The reason that Ravens fans experience happiness from a Super Bowl victory is that they identify with the team and see it as an important part of “who they are” as Marylanders.
Research shows that positive mood experienced in one context often spills over to other contexts. So Ravens fans are experiencing a more positive mood since the Super Bowl win. This positive mood will spill over into their work and non-work lives for a short time following Super Bowl weekend. From an organizational perspective, there is a lot of evidence that happier employees are valuable assets. Research demonstrates that happier employees perform their jobs better, are more likely to help coworkers, exhibit greater job satisfaction, and provide better service to customers. Moreover, happier employees tend to receive better performance ratings, have higher incomes (probably because they are rated higher on performance evaluations), and even get more involved in volunteering programs. So it is very possible that organizations in Baltimore will benefit greatly from the Ravens win.
Happiness also impacts people outside of work. So again, with the Ravens winning, the Baltimore area could benefit. For example, happier people tend to experience greater satisfaction from friendships and social activities, are happier with their marriages, and more likely to provide support to those around them.
Happy people also tend to experience fewer health problems, become more optimistic about their own future goals, and even engage in fewer destructive behaviors like alcohol intake and cigarette smoking.
What does increased fan demand for Ravens/Super Bowl related goods and services mean for local vendors?
Because most people in the Baltimore area identify with and are “cheering for” the Baltimore Ravens, they share a common bond. As such, people wanted to be out with other like-minded fans before, during, and after the game to share in the excitement and cheer on their team together. This means that bars and restaurants in the area will likely profit. While most of the economic benefits will be short-lived, Baltimore may benefit from the phenomena of “basking in reflected glory,” in which more people, in Baltimore and beyond, will become Baltimore Ravens fans because they are winners. As such, more Ravens gear and memorabilia will be purchased. Furthermore, the Ravens win might motivate people to visit Baltimore and even relocate to the area. This commonly happens when a college wins a major sporting event, like when Loyola won the men’s lacrosse championship last year. Winning colleges often experience increased applications the year following a major championship in sports.
Does the community as a whole feel more unified? Does that feeling have an impact on consumer spending habits?
People will feel more unified because they all identify with the Ravens. So this will likely have an impact on the spending habits of people on Ravens gear, but I don’t expect it to change their spending habits in general. It will raise the general mood of people however, and people will likely get along while they celebrate with each other, even if it’s only for a short period of time.