CFL Colts, concessions firm agree

May 24, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

Four weeks after his concessions deal with ARA fell apart, CFL Colts owner Jim Speros got a check he could take to the bank.

"This one is a real check," Speros said yesterday, announcing a five-year contract with Fine Host Corporation at a news conference on the playing field at Memorial Stadium. "It goes to the bank. It has a signature on it."

On a day when Speros' CFL bank account got a shot in the arm, even he could joke about the failed deal that left him without a concessionaire. On April 18, he was presented a mock check for $1 million by ARA-Martin's. Not long after, ARA pulled out of the arrangement at the behest of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, whose team is serviced by ARA.

Yesterday, Dick Kerley, president and part owner of Fine Host, gave Speros another $1 million check in advance commissions. "We think the CFL will do wonders [in Baltimore]," Kerley said. "We'll share in the profits. Food services and parking is all we do."

Baltimore's Canadian Football League expansion team is the first Maryland account for the Greenwich, Conn., company, which was one of the five original bidders for the concession contract.

Among Fine Host's other accounts are Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, the Pyramid in Memphis, and the Triple-A baseball stadium in Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

In addition to the $1 million advance, Fine Host will pay for renovations -- estimated at $400,000 -- to the concession booths at Memorial Stadium. It will also handle parking at the stadium.

"We're betting on Baltimore as a football town," said Ron Holliday, senior vice president for Fine Host and a former wide receiver in the NFL and CFL. "We think the excitement of the game draws a younger crowd."

Speros, whose team opens training camp Friday at Towson State, said the Fine Host deal clears the way for food contracts for items like peanuts, chips, hot dogs, candy and beer.

"This deal is important because I've got 30 other deals pending on it," he said.

"This check will have a domino effect. It brings in another $1.5 million."

It also enables Speros to lease a 34-foot-by-49-foot JumboTron scoreboard this season.

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