Belgrad says it's goal-to-go in seat sales Club tickets about sold

waiting list expected

August 24, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

Herbert J. Belgrad can smell the sellout now.

Fresh from a furious, four-day spending spree, the co-chairman of Baltimore's NFL expansion committee said he expects to sell the last of 7,500 club seats this week.

"Not only will there be a sellout," Belgrad said yesterday, "there will be a waiting list in club seats and sky boxes."

That would complete Baltimore's premium-seat campaign in advance of the NFL's Sept. 3 deadline. Last week, organizers of the drive announced they had leased all 100 sky boxes for a football stadium to be built at Camden Yards if Baltimore wins an expansion team in October.

During a four-day period -- starting with a phone-in program on WBAL radio Thursday and running through an "NFL Weekend at the Orioles" promotion -- Baltimore fans committed to nearly 1,300 club seats.

That reduces the number of seats still available to between 200 and 250, said Belgrad. He is uncertain of the exact number because many commitments are being made at a number of locations, and because the committee is awaiting checks from recent pledges.

"There was a large number of sales, but the checks haven't caught up to the commitments," Belgrad said. "We got checks in for a large number of seats over the weekend, as high as 500. If mail continued at this pace, we'd sell out tomorrow."

Checks from Thursday's radio commitments are due today. Checks from the weekend promotion at Camden Yards are due Friday. Belgrad said he isn't planning any more such promotions.

"Sales are coming in at such a rate that we don't need to do that," he said. "We're going to continue to accept orders and checks even if, on paper, we're sold out. If checks don't come in, we'll give [seats] to the next people on the list."

All remaining club seats are in the corners of the end zone, priced at $900 or $1,000.

Once the seat drive ends, Baltimore organizers can devote more time to a Sept. 21-22 presentation to the NFL's expansion and finance committees. Part of that presentation will be a video of Baltimore.

"When baseball expanded, the expansion committee visited each of the cities," Belgrad said. "The NFL isn't visiting each city. We have to take Baltimore to the NFL. We've been working on it the last several months. And there will be other visual and written presentation materials. Basically, we're trying to decide what should be the priorities on the presentation."

Belgrad said for now, there are no plans to have Gov. William Donald Schaefer at the September presentation in Chicago, although it's possible the governor will participate in the final presentation in October, when the league's owners vote on the two teams to be added in 1995.

* There are two conditions to Jacksonville, Fla., rejoining the expansion race with Baltimore, Charlotte, N.C., St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn.

First, the City Council must approve a $121 million renovation plan for the Gator Bowl at a meeting tonight. Second, J. Wayne Weaver, the leading investor in the city's ownership group, said fans will need to buy 9,000 club seats in the final 10 days of the premium-seat drive, at $1,500 a seat, to send a message to the NFL.

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