NationsBank backing Baltimore's bid, too Charlotte bank pledges support

August 04, 1993|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Staff Writer

NationsBank has agreed financially to back the NFL bids of Baltimore and its hometown, Charlotte, N.C., equally -- including a pledge to buy several hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of premium seats here.

"We're very much committed to Baltimore and Maryland. We spent an awful lot of money to get in there, and we care about the community and its success," said NationsBank chairman Hugh McColl.

The banker met yesterday morning at the State House with Gov. William Donald Schaefer and a number of community and business leaders,including Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad and Rouse Co. chairman Matt DeVito.

NationsBank is on the verge of becoming the state's largest bank as its merger with MNC Financial Inc. nears completion.

MNC had pledged to buy a $105,000-a-year sky box -- the most expensive -- at the proposed downtown football stadium. The NFL has asked Baltimore, Charlotte and the two other finalists for an expansion franchise to collect deposits on sky boxes and pricey club seats as a way to test the demand for football.

"An ideal world would be Baltimore and Charlotte getting the teams. We're going to be supportive of whichever city gets it," McColl said.

He said he also would support Memphis, Tenn., another contending city where investors have approached NationsBank for financing. Investors in St. Louis, the fourth finalist, have not requested financing through the bank, he said.

McColl said he would take two more boxes and 75 club seats here in the name of NationsBank, bringing the company up to the level of investment it has at Charlotte's stadium, where it is leasing a $296,000 box, Belgrad said. The NFL has limited individual companies to three sky boxes and 75 club seats for purposes of the market test.

"It was a major step for us," Belgrad said.

NationsBank's highly public support for the Charlotte effort has been seen as a potentially important tactical advantage for the city.

"We recognize he has a long-term close, personal relationship with the Richardsons, so we were not critical of the fact that he would personally support his community's effort," Belgrad said.

But Belgrad said any potential advantage for Charlotte investors, led by food service executive Jerry Richardson, was minimized with McColl's promise to offer the same financing terms to a Baltimore ownership group. NationsBank is one of the nation's most active lenders to sports teams and leagues, including the NFL.

"We were very cheered and reinforced by what he said. He said he would do nothing in Charlotte that he would not do in Baltimore," DeVito said.

"What he's saying is he lives in Charlotte and wants a team, but as a bank that does business across state lines, he wants to be fair," he said.

Schaefer spokesman Welford McLellan said the governor was "very pleased that NationsBank is being a good community partner."

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