Speros emerges encouraged after meeting with Schmoke Mayor wants to see if city can support CFL and NFL

November 28, 1995|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

After failing to get any financial promises from the state in his quest to keep the Stallions in Baltimore, team owner Jim Speros received a warmer reception yesterday when he asked for help from Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

"It was a positive meeting," Schmoke said. "I expressed my desire to see if both teams can play in Baltimore."

Speros said Schmoke told him he would see if the Maryland Stadium Authority would pick up some or all of the operating costs the Canadian Football League team normally would absorb. The Stallions have spent about $400,000 per season on operating costs in two years at Memorial Stadium.

"I told Jim I thought at some point there's a need for him to meet with officials of the stadium authority, with the city and Stallions in the same room so everyone is able to hear the same information," said Schmoke. "That would help all of us to make a realistic determination to see if both teams can survive here."

If the Stallions remain in Baltimore, they probably would have to share the stadium with the Browns for two seasons, before the Browns move to a new facility. The Stallions' Memorial Stadium lease runs through 1998.

"The mayor is my greatest supporter. Without his help, this [staying in Baltimore] isn't going to happen," Speros said. "He wants to make sure the Maryland Stadium Authority treats us the same way the Browns will be treated.

"This is the first meeting I've had that has made me feel like we're wanted in Baltimore," Speros added.

Starting Friday, the team will begin a campaign that Speros hopes will net 20,000 season-ticket buyers. Their season-ticket holders numbered 17,800 this season.

Schmoke offered no ticket sales guarantees.

Speros said the Stallions, who won the CFL championship last week, have lost nearly $3 million in their two-year history.

"If we sell 20,000 tickets, I'm not going anyplace," Speros said.

In the meantime, Speros plans to continue looking at places he might move the team.

Today, while his attorneys meet with stadium authority chairman John Moag, Speros will explore the possibility of moving to Virginia. He plans to meet an investment group in Richmond, where he will tour 22,000-seat Richmond Stadium, before checking out Foreman Field at Norfolk State. The Shreveport Pirates hope to move to Norfolk in 1996.

Speros also will meet with University of Maryland officials about playing at Byrd Stadium.

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