Glazer's sweetening goes sour NFL owners unmoved, Belgrad angered by late gate-receipt boost

October 28, 1993|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Staff Writer

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Malcolm Glazer's surprise bid to entice NFL owners with a $1.5 million visitor's gate may have backfired, owners say.

The Florida-based investor, who is one of Baltimore's two prospective team owners, made a dramatic offer that would have placed the city at the top of the five expansion candidates in terms of gate receipts for visiting teams.

But owners said the idea violates the tradition in the league on how ticket money is shared. And the manner in which the offer was made angered Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad, who was not told in advance of the plans.

"I'm sorry he did that," said Chicago Bears owner Edward W. McCaskey.

"It's nice to get the money, but not that way. Gate receipts are split 60-40, and that's the way it should be," McCaskey said.

NFL teams split ticket revenue for every game, with the home team getting 60 percent and the visiting team 40 percent, after costs are deducted.

But certain money can be withheld from the split: the annual rents paid on premium seats.

In the case of the 7,500 club seats and 108 sky boxes at the proposed stadium, fans would buy season tickets and pay an annual rent. Glazer offered to abolish the rent and raise the season-ticket price by an equal amount, resulting in no change for the fan but subjecting the whole package to the split.

The result would have been $1.5 million for a visiting team each time it played in Baltimore.

That figure would represent a three-fold increase in the league average of $500,000. It also would top the other expansion cities, which have scrambled in recent weeks to increase their visitor's gate.

St. Louis is projecting $1.15 million; Jacksonville, Fla., $1.15 million; Memphis, Tenn., $1 million, and Charlotte, N.C., $1.235 million. Baltimore had been projecting $1.03.

Joel Glazer, a son of the prospective team owner, said, "We have a very generous situation in Baltimore and we wanted to share it with the other owners."

But New Orleans Saints owner and finance committee chairman Tom Benson said, "I don't think that did them any good. You've got problems around the league with that. There are some owners that don't have suites, etc."

San Francisco 49ers president and finance committee member Carmen Policy said, "I don't think they helped themselves with that."

He said the league wanted to avoid a bidding war that would suggest candidates could buy their way into the league. He said they asked the cities to project their revenues based on existing practices.

Belgrad said he was disappointed with the surprise nature of the announcement. "We've tried to operate as a team," Belgrad said.

Baltimore is unique among the expansion finalists in that its bid has been led by civic leaders on behalf of a number of potential team owners. In other cities, the proposed owners have led the drives.

"We heard that for the first time as the 28 team owners did, and it certainly puts us at a disadvantage when an owner turns to me and asks where that number comes from and I don't know," Belgrad said.

"I don't think it created any serious damage, but it didn't help when one group presents one set of numbers and the other presents another," he added.

Baltimore's other prospective team owner is an investment group led by clothing retailer Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass.

Joel Glazer said he informed NFL president Neil Austrian and vice president of operations Roger Goodell of the plan Tuesday morning. He said they did not dissuade them from making the offer.

The Glazers kept the offer secret because they are in competition with Weinglass' group, he said.

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