The agreement Maryland reached with the Baltimore Ravens to play two of its home football games in M&T Bank Stadium in coming seasons will net the Terrapins roughly $2 million more per contest than if the games were played at Byrd Stadium, a school official said Thursday.
Randy Eaton, the school’s deputy director of athletics, said in an e-mail that Maryland’s contract to play West Virginia in 2013 and Virginia Tech in 2014 at the NFL venue calls for the athletic department to earn $3.5 million in net revenue for each game.
A home football game at Byrd Stadium “of similar magnitude” typically yields roughly $1.5 million, according to Eaton.
“In addition to all the other benefits of playing this type of game in Baltimore – extending our fan base, recruiting, enhancing the experience for our student-athletes and fans – the additional revenue is vital for the ongoing financial challenges facing Maryland Athletics,” Eaton said.
Maryland announced Wednesday evening that its football team will play West Virginia on Sept. 21, 2013, and Virginia Tech in 2014 at M&T Bank Stadium, which seats 71,008 people. Byrd Stadium, Maryland’s on-campus football stadium, has a listed seating capacity of 54,000.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson said the school and the Ravens began discussions about the possibility of moving the two home games to M&T Bank Stadium roughly six months ago.
“There’s no question there is a financial benefit to this, and it achieves all our objectives,” Anderson said. “So it was like the perfect storm.”
Because the 2013 contest against West Virginia and the 2014 game against Virginia Tech were Maryland home games, the Terrapins did not need any sort of permission from either opponent to shift venues.
Mike Parsons, West Virginia’s deputy athletics director, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that Maryland officials had consulted with the Mountaineers in recent months about the potential change, “but it was really their call.” Parsons said West Virginia had no problem with Maryland’s decision.
In a telephone interview before Maryland sent out its press release Wednesday, Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver said he was unaware that his program’s football team would be playing the Terrapins in Baltimore in 2014 and that he had not had any discussions with Maryland officials about such a possibility in recent months.
“It would not be unusual not to have conversations about that because that game is three years out, and them having dialogue about the possibility of playing there is obviously their business,” Weaver said. “Whatever stadium they want to play in, we’ll be glad to play there.”
Anderson said Maryland has been approached about the possibility of playing other home games away from Byrd Stadium, though he would not go into specifics about such potential arrangements.
“We’re going to try to keep the majority of games at Byrd,” Anderson said. “But when it comes to something special like this, it does fulfill what our fan base wants throughout the state, and we’re definitely going to look at it and give it consideration.”