Full disclosure. I am a rabid football fan. I love watching my Baltimore Ravens. There are few times in the year where I really allow myself to unplug, kick back, drink a few beers, and not feel guilty about not working…Sundays in September – January, I’m your typical NFL fan. I love it. LOVE IT. Why?
What is it about professional sports that has us by the short-hairs? What is it that causes folks to fork out hundreds of dollars for tickets, miss important life events because the “game is on,” spend way too much money on merchandise/beer/dogs at the game, while their “heros” get paid millions per year to play a game (not to mention the attention that their occasionally less-than-stellar off the field behavior garners from the media, while we eat it up.)
As our Baltimore Ravens go deeper into the playoffs, I’ll admit…it is absolutely fantastic to see a city rally around their team. I loved being here in 2000, when the Ravens won the superbowl. I loved seeing city hall, Penn Station, and other buildings all lit up in purple. I loved the attention that Charm City was getting on the national stage, and I can only begin to imagine the financial impact that a superbowl win has on our city.
Where have we gone as a city when we can support a baseball team that has been a joke for years, yet our beloved opera company was allowed to crumble, over less money than many of these stars get paid in a week? Where have we gone as a city when the players in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (one of the world’s finest, I might add…year after year) are forced to take pay-cut after pay-cut, while the NFL players salaries climb through the roof?
Granted, I do understand that the careers of some of these athletes are finite, and they need to make their money while they can. A ton of sacrifice, hard work, training (not to mention natural talent) goes into becoming a professional athlete. Well, same story with a classical musician…yet they seem to have even less opportunity.
Take a minute. Go back to the top of this post. Re-read my disclosure. I freakin’ LOVE football, and I’m not suggesting that opera will ever have the same broad appeal as football…but shouldn’t we get some of it?
- Ravens stadium seats over 70,000 people.
- They Lyric Opera House (which now bears the name of the former Ravens owner!) seats under 2,500.
- The new opera company that will be performing there, Lyric Opera Baltimore, will have SIX performances next year…15,000 people for a sold out season!
- The Ravens will have eight home games…and those 56,000 seats will sell out in a matter of minutes.
- Incidentally, Baltimore Concert Opera will have eight performances, and we seat 222 (and our tix start at $25).
One of the most common objections that we have to overcome at the opera is the price. People always seem to complain about the price. Yet, many of the same folks, and 70,000 of their friends will gladly shell out more money just to park their car at M&T Bank Stadium eight times a year, than it costs to go to the opera (not to mention, our beers are much cheaper!)
Am I suggesting that you give up football and support the opera? Heck no. I would like to steal an idea however from a new friend to the BCO, Dr. Tom Ritter. In a recent conversation, he told me that there is a rule in the Ritter house. If you are going to watch a Hollywood movie, you have to go see two live performances in your community. What a simple, yet incredibly powerful idea.
Support the Ravens. Wear purple on Friday. Light your house up in purple. Go to games (if you can get a ticket). Then, go to the symphony. Go to the opera. Go to an art museum….tell your friends about it…or we might just not be here for your kids and grand-kids. Go support your team…but whatcha doin’ in the off-season?
See you at the game, and hopefully at the opera!