Attendance at Ravens games is down this year and team president Dick Cass believes players’ protests during the national anthem are at least partly to blame.
Cass wrote a letter to season-ticket holders, suite owners and sponsors on Thursday night urging fans to come out and support the team in their final two home games of the season. The 650-word letter spends 290 words addressing the controversy over Baltimore players kneeling during the national anthem before their game in London in September.
Here is a transcript of that section, courtesy of CBS Baltimore.
“We had the poor showing in London, complicated by the kneeling of a dozen players during the National Anthem. That became an emotional and divisive issue. We know that hurt some of you. Others saw it differently and welcomed the dialogue that followed. Others bluntly told us to keep statements and protests out of the game. There are some of you who have stayed away from our games.
We have had significant numbers of no-shows in the past when our play on the field has not met the high standard we and you have set for the Ravens. But this year has been different. The numbers are higher, and it is noticeable. There are a number of reasons for the no-shows, but surely the one-time protest in London has been a factor.
We have responded to your concerns about the protest by re-doubling the efforts of both the organization and our players to make the Baltimore area a better community. We have also reached out to a number of you who wrote or called about the protest. I personally made a number of phone calls and met with some of you. Some of my Ravens colleagues have also made a number of calls. While we have not been able to reach all of you, we have learned a lot from these interactions.
We want the Ravens to continue to be a strong, unifying force and source of pride in our community. When the Ravens win, we can bring families and the community together. We’ve done that before, and we can do it again. In light of recent events, we are also reminded that winning alone is not always enough to make the Ravens the unifying force we want to be.”
The Ravens have had an average of 70,602 fans (99.4% of M&T Bank Stadium’s capacity) at each of their first six home games this season. In 2015, home attendance averaged 71,002 (100%) and 71,102 (100.1%) in 2016.
This season, the Ravens increased ticket prices for the first time since 2013, raising prices by between 4.7% and 10.3%.
The Ravens are 8–6 and can clinch a playoff spot with wins at home over the lowly Colts and Bengals in the final two weeks of the season.