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Growing the ‘sea of screaming purple’

When Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass looks into the stands at M&T Bank Stadium,  he sees “a sea of screaming purple.”

His goal is to grow that sea, Cass said in a speech at the Downtown Partnership’s 2012 State of Downtown Breakfast on Thursday.

“We don’t take anything for granted,” Cass said. “We are the second youngest franchise in the NFL. We don’t know what will happen to us and to our fans if we suffer through three years straight of 5-11 football. We don’t want to find out, either.”

If that were to ever happen, Cass said he knows fans would be “angry” and “disgusted.” The hope, however, is that they won’t turn their backs on the team, regardless of what’s on the scoreboard.

“When you think about teams like the Steelers, the Eagles and the Giants, they’ve reached that status. We’re not there yet,” he said. “That’s our goal, that’s why we’re working hard to grow our fan base in any way we can.”

But that’s not to say the Ravens’ fan base is struggling: In the team’s 2000 season, an average of 18 percent of households in the Baltimore metropolitan area – the city and its five surrounding counties –  tuned into TV broadcasts of the team’s regular season games. In the 2007 season, that number jumped to25 percent, and the 2011 season saw 37.3 percent of households tuning in, Cass said.

Cass also highlighted improvements at the team’s stadium, including the completion of a 4G wireless network in December and ongoing capital upgrades.

“We’ve got 15 years left on our lease, and we always want to be the very highest and best stadium in the league,” he said.