"The quest begins to find tickets," said Ryan Langhauser, 25, of Ellicott City, who hopes to follow the Ravens to the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., on Sunday.
Tickets to the game at Gillette Stadium were going for as low as $181 for nosebleed seats and approaching $3,000 for those in lower sideline sections on Stubhub.com, one of the secondary markets that fans generally will be using.
Langhauser, who works for a wireless company, was part of the Ravens Nation that made a similar trek to Foxborough two years ago and was rewarded with a 33-14 victory over the Patriots in the wild-card round. He, his father and two older brothers found tickets for about $150 each on Craigslist, and piled into the car for the seven-hour drive to the stadium.
Now Langhauser, who went to Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium, is going to see if he can get time off work and make a weekend trip out of the AFC title game with his girlfriend, Casie Pellegrini.
"No doubt I want to be there," he said, "and watch it happen."
Even before Sunday's divisional victory over the Houston Texans, Bill West and his fellow members of Ravens Roost No. 15 were talking about following the team to the likely next stop, to the Patriots' home turf. Now West, 45, of Linthicum, has his eye on even further prizes.
"We're going to go up [to Foxborough] and cheer them on, and then our next trip is to Indianapolis," he said, referring to the Super Bowl host city.
West has hotel rooms booked, and his friends are checking train schedules to Boston. And they're bracing for sitting elbow to elbow with fans notorious for their aggressive devotion to their sports teams.
"We've been there for a couple Orioles-Boston games," said West, who hosts the Saturday "Purple Pride" Ravens chat show on Fox 1370 AM. "They like their teams up there."
Bill Rohrbaugh's Charter Service, based in Manchester, is among those offering to ferry fans to Foxborough. For $85 round-trip, fans will leave about 3:30 a.m. Sunday and be dropped off at the stadium by about 11 a.m. for the 3:30 p.m. game, and then picked up afterward for the trip home.
About 14 people had booked seats by Monday afternoon, Rohrbaugh said, and he expected more later in the week as fans first secured game tickets and then started to arrange for transportation. While his business has been down during the economic downturn, Rohrbaugh said, trips like this seem pretty recession-proof.
"What I have found, and I've been doing this for 40 years now, is people are more inclined to spend money on something they really don't need," Rohrbaugh said. "People will give up something else to go to the game."
Many fans were hoping for a second post-season game at home, given the expense of an out-of-town trip.
"The prices were off the hook," said Darryl Despeaux of Ravens Roost No. 65. "The way the economy is, that's detracting from traveling to New England."
Despeaux, 52, said he and his fellow Roost-ers will be happy to watch the AFC championship game at their usual home base of Beefalo Bob's in Pasadena.
Depending on how they travel, and where or if they spend a night or two in a hotel, fans can indeed spend some money traveling to Foxborough.
A search for flights on Orbitz on Monday, for example, showed a range from $192 for a US Airways flight from Baltimore to Boston with a stopover in Philadelphia on the way there and a layover in New York on the way back, to $233 for a direct flight on AirTran. One-stop flights to Providence, according to Orbitz, ranged from $184 to $448, while Southwest had some direct flights to the Rhode Island city for about $233.
For those who want to really open up their wallets, the Renaissance Boston Patriot Place Hotel & Spa next to the stadium has packages that include two lower bowl tickets to the game for $1,799 for a Saturday night stay or $1,999 for a Sunday night stay. Plus taxes.
"It's one-stop shopping for people," said Scott Williams, assistant general manager of the hotel. "We're 200 yards from the west side of the stadium, so you don't have to deal with traffic. And we keep the tickets locked up in the safe so you don't have to worry about losing them."
So far, Williams said, he's sold four packages and has about 20 left.
"The phones started ringing a little bit more" on Monday, he said. "Generally, people call, then have to talk to their husbands or wives before they book."