If Baltimore's football fans are serious about obtaining a National Football League expansion franchise, they had better start lining up at Memorial Stadium early Saturday morning to buy tickets for a late-August exhibition game between the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints. NFL owners will be watching carefully to determine the depth of this city's devotion to the football league that left here under cover of darkness eight years ago.
This is Baltimore's chance to impress pro football's moguls. At $25 a ticket, it will take $1.5 million in sales to sell out the 61,000 stadium seats for the Aug. 28 or Aug. 29 games (the date depends on whether network television plans to make the game a nationwide event). The faster tickets are purchased, the better this city will look in the eyes of the NFL's expansion committee. A one-day sellout is the goal -- and it can be achieved.
"Once you lose a team, it's hard to get one back," Gov. William Donald Schaefer said. He should know. He's been trying to do just that since that infamous night in 1984 when the NFL let Robert Irsay creep out of town with the city's precious Colts for greener monetary pastures in Indianapolis. The road back to the NFL could begin with a prompt sellout of the Saints-Dolphins matchup.