Friday, June 26, 2009 Updated: July 1, 11:41 AM ET
Ultimate Standings 2009: No. 29
By Anna K. Clemmons ESPN The Magazine
Last Year's Rank: 76 Title Track: 18 Ownership: 18 Coaching: 25 Players: 18 Fan Relations: 43 Affordability: 66 Stadium Experience: 27 Bang for the Buck: 51
It's amazing what a good draft pick (QB Joe Flacco, first round, 18th overall); a good coach (John Harbaugh); and a good finish (the AFC Championship game) can do. Led by rookie Flacco, the Ravens bumped up 47 spots, most impressively in Coaching (118 to 25), Players (78 to 18) and Fan Relations (105 to 43). Owner Steve Bisciotti threw in a huge chunk of change toward the renovation of Baltimore City's Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School football stadium. He also had the organization partner up with the local American Heart Association to promote physical fitness and healthy living among local kids in the What Moves U program. Since the Ravens settled in Baltimore in 1996, they have gotten plenty of love from the fans. Baltimore has sold out every home game, and there is a waiting list of 3,000 for permanent seat licenses. But the announcement of a ticket price increase, the fifth since the stadium opened in 1998, has hit a nerve. User JPIII pulled no punches on the Ravens message board: "Just got my invoice for my season tix … they raised the prices on my seat $20 a game. $200 in this economy??? GEEEEEZ, give me a break here … !!!" So while fans may have their sites set on next year's Super Bowl, even a love of Flacco may force some ticket-holders to say, "Nevermore."