Review originally published on Stadium Journey.
Remember that super hot girl from high school that everyone was in love with? You know the one. Always had the huge crowd around her locker, and she was a nice person to boot. Remember her little sister? Remember thinking she might eventually get to be like her big sister, only she never quite measured up? Oh, she was alright, I guess, but standing next to her sister, boy, not even close.
Oriole Park is the hot girl. M and T Bank Stadium is the little sister. It would be better off in another part of the city, or, even better, in another city to avoid the comparisons.
Here is the FANFARE rating for Baltimore’s M AND T BANK STADIUM:
Food & Beverage: 4 (out of 5)
In a word: eh. I mean, it’s alright. One extra point is given for a few specialties, the obligatory Maryland Crab cakes, veggie burgers and burritos, a decent BBQ stand and gluten free pretzels, which is a neat trick. They have a stand from Attman’s deli where you can get a decent, not great, pastrami sandwich. They have a full bar inside the stadium called the Talon Pub. Beer there, as well as throughout the stadium has a good, not great variety for a good, not great average price of around eight bucks on average. There is nothing in the stadium I’d say you have to try, but anything you do try will be better than average. Like I said, in a word, eh. In three words, good, not great.
The atmosphere here is terrific. The sightlines are amazing, and the giant TV screens at either end are a sight to behold. The seating is second to none, not a bad seat anywhere. It has a remarkable history for such a young stadium. Part of that may be from the grand history of football in Baltimore. NFL, USFL, Super Bowls, all won in this city. The vibe is here and is palpable. Adding to it on the way into the stadium from Oriole Park is RavensWalk, games, food and fun.
Space does not permit the description of the greatness of this area, as long as you walk towards Oriole Park and turn RIGHT, not left when you pass it. (Turning left can put you in a shady part of town.) The stadium is a 15 to 20 minute, leisurely stroll from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. But before you get there, you have to pass Pickles. If you are a Ravens fan, or like to be with hometown fans, or just like $2 draft beers on game day, Pickles is the spot. The food is generic pub food, but, come on, $1 a beer, who cares about the food? There are a number (a large number, I stopped counting at 10) of bars also very close to the ballpark, so if you need something fancier than Pickles, you have lots of options.
I feel compelled to also mention the ESPN Zone at the Inner Harbor. Great place before, during or after any sporting event.
Baltimore fans, as a rule, are intelligent and involved. They were a solid four points here, with my thinking that a five point score would require more of an edge. A little touch of crazy, if you will. Then I met this guy:
That is not a plastic raven attached to his hat, it is a stuffed raven.
The man has a dead, stuffed bird attached to his hat.
This stadium is right off I-95, the main interstate on the East Coast. It is easy to find. Parking is plentiful but not at all cheap. You will pay a minimum of $20 to park. The closer you are, the more you will pay, as much as $50. There are plenty of clean bathrooms.
Return on Investment: 3
This is a great stadium in which to watch a football game, but not much else. I mean, you can eat and drink and be full while you do it, but the best thing going on here is the view from your seat. Not a lot to do inside other than that. Outside is another story.
Extra Points: 1
In a word, OK. If you want to watch a football game and then hang out at the harbor later, this is a good place. If you are looking for the full, interactive, all inclusive game day experience that many other parks offer, this is not the place. Great neighborhood, and great sightlines though.
FANFARE Total: 27 (out of 35)
Good, not great. It pales in comparison to its big sister, Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It is miles better than Memorial Stadium was, and way better than that disaster to the south in DC. But I left feeling like I needed more. If my team was playing, I would go back, but only if my team was playing.