Jim Speros wined and dined Baltimore business leaders yesterday, launching a campaign for corporate sponsorship that had an immediate return.
During a kickoff luncheon at Martin's West, the owner of the Canadian Football League Colts announced he had selected ARA-Martin's as concessionaire for Memorial Stadium. Exhibit A was a giant mock check for $1 million presented to Speros by Martin Resnick, chairman of the board of Martin's West, and Hugh Gallagher, president of the concessions division of ARA in Philadelphia.
Under terms of the deal, Speros will share costs with ARA of refurbishing the 23 concession booths at the stadium. Resnick estimated the cost to be $400,000.
"It was a very easy negotiation," Resnick, a partner in ARA-Martin's, said of the deal that will cover the Colts' five-year lease at the stadium.
"He asked for $1 million in sponsorship. He set the terms. We went along with the terms he asked for. . . . Obviously, we had a lot more to offer than most [of the other concessionaires]."
The $1 million represented an advance in commissions. Although the split of gross receipts was not disclosed, Resnick said it was a good deal for both sides.
"I think the big risk is if, by some chance, an NFL team should come," he said. "[But] I think they're going to do a great job with games. I truly believe they're going to have tremendous attendance. People are calling me now asking, 'How can I get tickets?'
"No question, we'll get our money back over five years."
Resnick said the choice of ARA was the logical one for Speros for a number of reasons, chief among them that the CFL team's games will not conflict with Orioles games at Camden Yards. That enables ARA to move from baseball to football with virtually its entire staff.
"In addition, we were at the stadium eight years prior to moving to Camden Yards," he said. "Many of our vendors were involved at the stadium. It's very natural for us. As a result, I think we should be able to make more of a profit for them."
Resnick said ARA put $5.5 million of equipment into the stadium 11 years ago. "That equipment is still there, it's just a matter of" making repairs, he said.
Speros also said First National Bank had signed on as a corporate sponsor.
NOTES: CFL commissioner Larry Smith attended the luncheon, one in a series of caravan stops. He expressed concern over Speros' inability to get state funding for stadium improvements, but voiced hope it still might happen. "Hopefully the state will be able to be brought on board with the city and the business community leaders," Smith said. . . . John Ziemann, president of the Baltimore Colts' Band, presented Speros with a replica of the band's new emblem, which features the CFL Colts' logo and three bars of the old NFL Colts' fight song. . . . Speros was presented with the 1994 Humanitarian Honoree Award by the Save-a-Heart Foundation. . . . Speros said he was completing "final details" of a contract with WMAR-TV to broadcast five Colts games this season. . . . He said he expects to finalize a radio deal with WJFK (1300 AM) by the weekend. . . . Ex-NFL Colt Art Donovan sat at the head table, and a dozen other ex-Colts, including Lenny Moore, Stan White and Rick Volk, attended.