Speros told he can't corral Colts

January 26, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

ATLANTA -- Jim Speros may put a Canadian Football League team in Baltimore next summer, but it isn't likely to carry the preferred name of Colts.

Because he is uncertain whether he could withstand a legal challenge from NFL Properties on using the name of Baltimore's departed NFL team, Speros said he is considering other possibilities, including the Silver Colts, the Fighting Colts or the Knights.

But the first choice of Colts seems no longer to be an option. "Anything we sell with the Colts name would belong to them," Speros said of NFL Properties, the merchandising arm of the league.

John Flood, president of NFL Properties, did not return a message left at his New York office yesterday. And Maria Liuzzo, who works with trademarks in the department, said she was unaware of any discussion about the Colts name.

But a league source familiar with the situation said NFL Properties would not release trademark rights to Speros. "Having the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Colts would be too confusing," the source said.

Speros, a Virginia businessman and native of Potomac, Md., said he was willing to make a "substantial offer" to NFL Properties for rights to the name, but the source said the name was not negotiable.

Speros also said he'd like to enlist the help of Gov. William Donald Schaefer in getting the name for his prospective CFL team.

All Speros needs for formal approval of an expansion CFL team is a lease to play in Memorial Stadium.

He said he is negotiating with Marlyn J. Perritt, head of the Department of Recreation and Parks, which controls the stadium.

His CFL deadline for approval coincides with the Maryland Stadium Authority's deadline of Feb. 14 for a commitment by an NFL team to move to Baltimore.

Speros said he wants to have the team name issue resolved before any formal announcements are made.

Yesterday, Speros met with the Department of Recreation and Parks, and conducted a walk-through of the stadium to make a list of improvements.

Those improvements include putting sod on the baseball infield, modification of the fences for the larger CFL dimensions, repainting the seats, upgrading the locker rooms and press box, and a new sound system.

"For $500,000, we could get it looking good," Speros said.

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