Navy and Notre Dame met for the 95th time this past Saturday, with the Fighting Irish winning, 35-32, after holding off a rally from the Midshipmen. More than 4,000 midshipmen, who came up from Annapolis, were among the 62,124 in attendance at M&T Bank Stadium for the game televised on ABC.
For such special events held at the venue, the stadium’s owner, the Maryland Stadium Authority, and the Ravens, who operate it, split the profit or loss from the event. The stadium authority also receives amusement tax from ticket sales — each ticket includes a 10% amusement tax, with 80% of that (8% of the total ticket cost) going to the stadium authority.
The stadium authority contributed $300,000 of those tax dollars to the Ravens, according to figures obtained through a Public Information Act request.
Although the stadium authority is not contractually obligated to give the Ravens any of the tax money for such events, it often does in an effort to promote a “live, work, play” environment at the Camden Yards complex and encourage more special events — beyond just Ravens and Orioles games — to take place there, like the Paul McCartney concert that Oriole Park hosted in June.
The stadium authority has given the Ravens about $2.4 million for the past four Navy games in Baltimore: $900,000 each for the 2014 and 2016 Army vs. Navy games and $345,532.61 for a 2014 game against Ohio State. The authority did not contribute such tax dollars to the Ravens for the two most recent Maryland games at M&T Bank Stadium (against West Virginia in 2013 and against Penn State in 2015).
Earlier this year, the stadium authority gave the Ravens $150,000 for hosting the Arsenal vs. Everton soccer match and, at that time, Maryland Treasurer Dereck Davis, a Democrat, said the stadium authority was being “callous and reckless with the people’s money.”
He pointed out that there is no formal agreement between the stadium authority and the Ravens to bring in future events. Davis declined to comment specifically on the contributions to the Navy vs. Notre Dame game, but a spokesperson for Davis said his stance has not changed.
The stadium authority this summer explained its reasoning for not maximizing its revenue from individual events, saying it has a long-term vision and wants to increase the total number of events hosted at the stadium and ballpark, which it says will generate more revenue down the road.
Stadium Authority Chairman Thomas Kelso said this summer that denying financial requests from the Ravens or Orioles could reduce the incentive for the teams to bring in more concerts and games.
“We’re not thinking in terms of maximizing it at one event,” Michael Frenz, the stadium authority’s executive director, said this summer. “We’re looking at maximizing revenue over some longer-term horizon.”
For example, with the McCartney concert, the stadium authority allowed the Orioles to keep all revenue generated by the show (while the stadium authority still took in hundreds of thousands of dollars in admissions tax).
According to Frenz, the Orioles have said that sharing revenue from such events with the stadium authority is a “significant disincentive” to the team bringing in future events. He previously said that’s why the stadium authority “elected to acquiesce to what they have told us and opt out from this financial participation in the Paul McCartney concert.”
The Ravens did not reply to a request for comment regarding the contribution to the Navy vs. Notre Dame game, but the stadium authority said in a statement that, over the last 30 years, “in an effort to enhance the [Camden Yards] complex as a year-round entertainment destination, MSA has entered into various agreements with the teams to successfully bring concerts, college and international sports events, television and motion picture film crews to Maryland.”
The stadium authority said that it intends for the MSA’s contribution to the Ravens for the Navy and Notre Dame game to be “funded via the Major Sports and Entertainment Events Program,” a $10 state million fund to attract special events that was created by a bill passed earlier this year.
“MSA’s direct financial contributions to these games, similar to a convention center model, are off-set by the strong fiscal benefits to the state through tax revenues, economic activity, job creation and media exposure while providing entertainment and event diversity for both Marylanders and out-of-town attendees,” the stadium authority said in a statement.
The Orioles and the Ravens each have leases as tenants of the venues, with the Orioles’ set to expire at the end of 2023 and the Ravens’ in 2027.