CFL team will be ready to play in July, eh?

February 17, 1994

With a lease for Memorial Stadium signed and a CFL expansion team for Baltimore approved, here are answers to some of the most-asked questions about the new setup.

Q: What will the team be called?

A: If CFL commissioner Larry Smith approves, owner Jim Speros will call it the Colts, defying the NFL's lawsuit threat. Speros appears willing to test the trademark laws in court.

Q: When do they start play, and how long is the season?

A: The regular season starts in July, and, because of those frigid Canadian winters, ends in early November. The playoffs conclude with the Grey Cup championship game in late November at a pre-selected site, similar to the Super Bowl arrangement.

L Q: How will they go about finding players at this late date?

A: Each team controls the rights to a negotiation list of non-veteran players -- either college players or NFL free agents. Existing teams maintain a 35-man list, while Baltimore's expansion team will have 52 players on its roll. Veteran free agents such as quarterback Tracy Ham can not be placed on a negotiation list and are allowed to negotiate with any team they wish.

Q: How big is their roster, and how many players have to be Canadians?

A: CFL teams have 37-man rosters with 10 men on the non-active roster (practice squad). Canadian teams have a limit of 17 import, or American, players. There is no such limit for U.S. teams, which should prove to be a competitive advantage.

Q: What is a marquee player?

A: That's the franchise player on each team whose contract does not count against the team's salary cap of $2.5 million. Marquee contracts are subject to approval by the commissioner. Look for Ham, a seven-year CFL veteran, to become Baltimore's marquee player.

Q: Will the team have local tryouts?

A: Speros plans to hold a tryout in Maryland in March.

Q: Where will the training camp be, and when?

A: Because Baltimore has an expansion team, it gets to open training camp two weeks early. That's early June, in case you want to plan your vacation accordingly. Speros remains undecided about a site. Western Maryland College is under consideration.

Q: What is the average salary for a CFL player, and is there a salary cap?

A: Average salaries range from $60,000 to $70,000. Some players hold a second job. That's not the case with quarterback Doug Flutie of the Calgary Stampeders, who has the CFL's highest salary at $1 million a year. Quarterback Matt Dunigan of Winnipeg has the second highest salary at $500,000.

Q: What are the main differences in rules between the NFL and CFL?

A: The CFL plays with 12 men on the field instead of 11, three

downs instead of four, unlimited motion in the backfield, a 20-second clock instead of the NFL's 40 seconds, a neutral zone of 1 yard off the ball for the defensive line, and one timeout per half instead of three. Also, there are no fair catches, and all kicks into the end zone must be returned.

Q: How many teams are in the league?

A: Baltimore becomes the 11th team in the league. By the end of the week, look for Shreveport, La., to become the 12th team, and the fourth U.S. entry.

Q: Will the games be on TV and radio?

A: Each team holds individual TV and radio rights. It's up to the pTC local stations to arrange TV and radio packages. The CFL has TV contracts with ESPN2 for a game of the week, the Canadian Broadcast Company and The Sports Network.

Q: Can an NFL team also play at Memorial Stadium?

A: Yes, but changing the field from CFL to NFL dimensions could be a giant headache for the grounds crew. A CFL field is 11 1/2 yards wider and 30 yards longer than an NFL field. Speros does not hold exclusive rights to Memorial Stadium.

TICKET INFORMATION

* Fans who have reserved season tickets have until March 8 to send in deposits to keep their priority number on the team's "Gold List." Deposits are $50 per ticket or $53 for VISA or MasterCard charges. All deposits must be postmarked or time-stamped by March 8.

Seats will be awarded based on the earliest reservations (not money) received. Fans should not wait to be contacted.

All ticket reservations starting today must be accompanied by a deposit.

Send checks to: Baltimore Football CFL Inc., P.O. Box 15440, Baltimore, Md. 21220-0440, or call (410) 321-1983.

* Ticket prices will range from $9 to $25 for general tickets and $28 for club seats. Prime sideline seats will be $25.

* People who requested mezzanine seats will be given the chance to purchase club seats or seats in the upper deck. Those who requested mezzanine seats will be contacted, according to Bob Leffler of the Leffler Agency.

* There is a three-year minimum purchase on club seats. Club seats will run $1,000 a year on the sidelines and $800 a year in the end zones. That does not include the price of the ticket. With tickets, the cost is $1,280 and $1,050. There is a 5 percent discount for those who wish to commit to a five-year lease. There will be one parking pass issued for every four club seats purchased.

* There will be $90 student season tickets available in the end zone.

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