Freezing fans are warmed by hope

January 25, 1992|By Jon Morgan

Eric Crawford readily admits it's not just a ticket to a football game that he's after.

Bundled tightly against the cold wind lashing Memorial Stadium last night, the 20-year-old Perry Hall resident said he has never even been to a football game.

But there he was at 8 p.m. with about 75 other people who were claiming their places in line -- and, they hope, in local sports history -- waiting for the ticket windows to open this morning.

At 9 a.m. today, 32,000 tickets were scheduled to go on sale for the first pro football game in Baltimore in nine years. The city is hoping a quick sellout of the Dolphins-Saints game will prove the mettle of local football fans.

"It's a real blast, as long as your feet stay warm," Crawford said.

He has camped out for tickets about a dozen times, for a variety of sporting events and concerts. His best showing to date: a 1988 INXS concert for which he was No. 3 in line outside the Hecht's at Golden Ring Mall.

Encamped with a tent, folding chairs and quilted blankets, the veteran ticket buyer was confident he would do well today. He arrived mid-morning yesterday to find himself about 20th in line.

The camaraderie in line was obvious, from the pair of matching, white poodles frolicking to the plastic cups of warmth-inducing beverages being passed around. A touch football game in the parking lot yesterday afternoon was reported to have been spirited.

"While you're in line you're buddy-buddy with everybody," Crawford said. "But after they get their tickets, everybody goes their own way."

At the front of the line was Chris Kiefner, 23, of Pasadena, who arrived at 4:30 a.m.

"I want to keep football alive," Kiefner said. For those who missed it, yesterday's pre-dawn weather was "howlin' cold," Kiefner reported.

Charles McCready, 31, of Baltimore, had heard about the fans who ordered tickets by mail and were disappointed with their seat selections.

"Tough," he said. "They should be down here in line. You get to pick your seat here. It's only fair that we get the best ones."

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