Study: NFL support here would be 'overwhelming'

September 17, 1991|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Evening Sun Staff

If Baltimore were granted an NFL expansion franchise in 1994, local support for that team would be overwhelming, according to a consultant's study commissioned by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

In fact, the report said, the team could sell out a 66,000-seat stadium three times over for every game.

It could sell seven times the number of sky suites that are penciled in for a new, football-only stadium at Camden Yards.

And it could sell well in excess of the 7,500 club seats that will be available in the new stadium.

The results of that survey were included in Baltimore's expansion application that was delivered to league headquarters in New York yesterday, along with voluminous data about demographics, the stadium that would be built, and projected revenue.

Although specifics of the application were not available yesterday, Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said he believes the two-volume report gives Baltimore its "proper appearance."

"I'd be surprised if any application is stronger on its merits than ours," he said. "It is detailed, responsive and done in a professional way."

Months in the making, the application contains several studies commissioned by the GBC. One of them, done by Migliara/Kaplan Associates, projected an overwhelming fan response to a team here. In phone polling of individual consumers and local businesses in the Baltimore area, the study indicated the team would be able to sell 199,000 tickets to each game, along with 700 sky suites -- when only 100 suites are scheduled to be built in a new stadium.

Other studies detailed Baltimore's ability to support an NFL franchise, the impact of an NFL team on the Maryland economy, revenue projections, and a consultant's report on the stadium to be built at Camden Yards.

Baltimore's application also lists five potential ownership groups: novelist Tom Clancy; Malcolm Glazer of Rochester, N.Y., the head of First Allied Corp.; Bethesda real estate developer Nathan Landow; a group that includes former Packers quarterback Bart Starr; and clothing store magnate Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass.

"What we have is a composite picture," Belgrad said of the application. "We rate high in demographic and statistical information, higher than many current NFL cities.

"In the area of facility, we are offering a state-of-the-art, new, football-only stadium. If you judge it on the basis of our baseball stadium, it will be a facility the NFL would be proud to play in."

Baltimore, which lost the Colts to Indianapolis in 1984, was one of 11 cities that filed applications for the proposed two-team expansion in 1994. Also meeting yesterday's deadline were Charlotte, N.C., Honolulu, Ha., Jacksonville, Fla., Memphis, Tenn., Nashville, Tenn., Oakland, Calif., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Sacramento, Calif., St. Louis, Mo., and San Antonio, Tx.

Cities that requested application forms but did not file include Anchorage, Alaska, Birmingham, Ala., Fayetteville, Tenn., Orlando, Fla., and Portland, Ore.

Prospective owners must submit a $100,000 filing fee with their application by Oct. 1, although a league spokesman yesterday said both deadlines were flexible and late entries would be accepted.

The NFL's expansion committee is expected to reduce the field of candidates to a short list of finalists at its March meetings in Phoenix. As many as six cities might make the cut.

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