Jones follows the dollars will they lead him to vote for Baltimore?

PRO FOOTBALL

September 05, 1993|By VITO STELLINO

Jerry Jones knows money.

The Dallas Cowboys owner likes to point out that he invested more money than any other single individual in the history of sports in 1989 when he bought the team and Texas Stadium for about $140 million.

He said the value of his investment was $40,000 a day.

"When you make that kind of commitment, you've got to have some planning," he said. "You can't just wake up every morning and say, 'What's new.' "

There was a lot of talk when Jones bought the team that he overpaid, but he turned out to be a super salesman and is adept at dreaming up ways of making money. He didn't make any friends in the media corps when he replaced the press box with luxury boxes and built a new press box under the roof, but he made a lot of money.

He may overreach at times, such as his theory that Emmitt Smith has to make sacrifices. Superstars don't make sacrifices. Overall, though, there's no owner more money-conscious in the league than Johnson.

That's why his virtual endorsement of the Malcolm Glazer family last week was a big boost to Baltimore's expansion hopes.

It highlights what Jones obviously understands: How lucrative the Baltimore deal is. He also understands the Glazers have the money to write the check for the team.

Jones' opinions tend to carry weight, too, because he's obviously studied the expansion race -- many owners haven't paid much attention yet -- and is a member of the new guard of owners who don't care about the past. They care about today. Which is why it's a waste of time for Baltimore to talk about the past in its presentation. Baltimore has to sell what it has today.

Jones also negates the league office infatuation with bypassing Baltimore for new markets. Jones' idea for getting new markets is to add four teams instead of two. He may have a tough time getting 21 votes for that idea, but it puts the onus on the people who want new markets to round up the votes. Jones isn't going to pass up the money in Baltimore.

Jones also has a history of being on the winning side when commissioner Paul Tagliabue wants to give up money. He helped defeat Tagliabue's idea to give the TV networks a rebate a year ago. He also favored cutting Tagliabue's proposed salary from $3 million to $1.6 million. He's not going to let Tagliabue leave that Baltimore money on the table.

Now that the premium seat selling campaigns have ended, it's obvious that Baltimore's offer is currently $98 million stronger than the Charlotte offer.

Even if Charlotte had sold out all of its PSLs (permanent seat licenses), the owners would have had to come up with $60 million more (on top of the purchase price in the $200 million range) to complete the financing of the stadium.

Now that it failed to sell one-fourth of those seats, Charlotte is another $30 million short, so the owners have to come up with $90 million more for the stadium unless it sells those seats later.

By contrast, Baltimore collected $8 million for its seats and it'll just turn the money over to the new owners once the team is awarded. So while the Charlotte owner has to pay out $90 million more, the Baltimore owner takes in $8 million. That's a $98 million swing.

Charlotte is expected to have banks promise to guarantee its shortfall, but the league doesn't want NationsBank to end up being a corporate owner. The danger is that the Charlotte owners would be facing crushing debt service.

It all adds up to the fact that money talks -- as Jones knows -- and Baltimore has the money.

The $1 million gate

Baltimore officials already have set it up so that the visiting team will make $1 million for every game played in Baltimore.

The eight regular-season visitors are decided by a league scheduling format, but Baltimore can use its two home preseason games each year as a bargaining chip because each team negotiates its own preseason games.

Most teams tend to play preseason games against teams in the same part of the country. For example, the Washington Redskins often play the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.

But Baltimore is expected to send out the word that it will be willing to rotate those games among all the teams that want to make the trip so all the teams except the ones in its division -- teams don't play preseason games against clubs in their division -- can have an occasional crack at that $1 million gate.

Of course, it'd only be fair to look favorably upon the teams that support Baltimore, wouldn't it?

The young quarterbacks

When Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots and Rick Mirer of the Seattle Seahawks start today, it'll be the first time that two rookie quarterbacks have started openers since 1973.

Bert Jones of the Colts lost to the Cleveland Browns, 24-14, and Joe Ferguson of the Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots, 31-13, that year.

Bledsoe and Mirer are the first quarterbacks drafted 1-2 since 1971 when Jim Plunkett of the Patriots and Archie Manning of the New Orleans Saints both won their openers.

Openers

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