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M&T Bank Stadium Concerts Provide 'Positive Boost' For City

April 17, 2017
When Metallica takes the stage at M&T Bank Stadium May 10, Kirby Fowler will be waiting for one thing.

"I really associate Ravens games with 'Enter Sandman,'" said the president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore of one of the iconic group's best-known hits. "I think it's going to be great when they play that."

This will be Metallica's second concert at the home of the Ravens -- the heavy metal group also played there in July 2000. Beyonce played M&T in 2016; Billy Joel and the teeny-bopper group One Direction played there (separately!) in 2015; Jay-Z and Beyonce played (together!) in 2014; Jay Z and Justin Timberlake (together!) in 2013; U2 in 2011. The stadium has also hosted two HFStivals, in 1999 (when it was known as PSINet Stadium) and 2005. 

Those types of events are a big deal to the city, said Fowler and others.

"Hosting concerts of big-name bands, such as Metallica, is important to building Baltimore's brand as a first-class entertainment destination," Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, the city's tourism agency, said in a statement to PressBox. "When loyal fans travel to Baltimore to see a concert, they often also support our local hotels, restaurants and attractions, which positively impacts our economy. Everyone wins."

Said Fowler: "It's another positive boost for the city."

According to Fowler, it's hard to quantify just what that boost is, but he compared it to a Ravens game or a sold-out Orioles game. And, he added, the anecdotal evidence says it's significant.

When his wife and daughters were taking in One Direction in 2015, he was at a bar in Federal Hill. And he's sure he wasn't the only parent waiting for their children there.

"Remember, that there's no tailgating allowed at the concerts," Fowler said. "So many of the attendees are going to restaurants before and after the concert. There is so much spinoff. I remember going to the U2 concert. There were so many people leaving restaurants, emptying their wallets."

Fowler doesn't think the type of artist -- hip-hop; geezer rockers; teeny-bopper -- has any effect on how much spinoff spending there is, as long as they're a big name and as long as they sell out. He pointed to the "diversity" of acts that play the Royal Farms Arena and draw big crowds.

Fowler would love to see Bruce Springsteen play M&T, and he would have loved to have seen Prince there as well.

"There just aren't that many bands that have that kind of appeal," he said, also mentioning Taylor Swift and Adele.

And while Metallica is certainly a heavy-metal band, they are "a little more accessible than most," he said.

"These concerts are tremendous generators of tax dollars for the city and state."

About the field

Metallica won't be the first concert to take place on a natural grass field at M&T Bank Stadium. 

The stadium had grass during its first five seasons, 1998-2002, and hosted concerts then, including the HFStival in 1999.

And last June, not long after the new grass field was installed, Beyonce strutted her stuff.

The Ravens didn't respond to requests for comment from PressBox, but in the December 2015 announcement that they were switching back to natural grass, team president Dick Cass said measures would be taken to protect the field because they didn't want to give up events like concerts.

When the stadium had a grass field for the first five years it was open, the root layer was only six inches deep. The new field has a root depth of 12 inches, which helps the grass withstand not only collisions between 300-pound players, but events that put multi-ton stages on the field.

Issue 232: April 2017