Colts pricey, Bombers fade as nicknames Jimmy Irsay says he'd listen for '$25 to $50 million'

Both names likely out

NFL Properties gives presentation today

March 14, 1996|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Colts and Bombers are probably out, but the new Baltimore NFL team is still trying to find what's in for the team's nickname.

A delegation from NFL Properties will meet with the top executives of the new Baltimore club today to make a presentation on the results of a telephone poll of 1,000 Baltimore residents on possible nicknames. The poll followed work with several focus groups.

Regardless of the poll and focus group results, Colts and Bombers are likely to be ruled out.

Jimmy Irsay, the son of Indianapolis Colts owner Bob Irsay, simply has put too high a price on the Colts name.

"For $25 to $50 million, I'd listen, but I don't think we'd do it," Irsay said.

The new Baltimore team wouldn't consider paying $25 million, much less $50 million. Owner Art Modell had in mind something in the $5 million range.

Officials from the two teams had a conversation this week, but one source said it didn't even advance as far as negotiations.

David Modell, the son of owner Art Modell, is leading the search for a new name. David Modell said he wasn't personally involved in the talks with the Colts and wouldn't comment on them. Although he wouldn't publicly rule out using the Colts name, he conceded the chances were very slim it would be used.

David Modell said the Colts name would create goodwill for the team, but added, "There already seems to be a lot of goodwill toward the football team and the organization and the coach in Baltimore."

David Modell said the organization hadn't received a single critical letter about the hiring of former Colts coach Ted Marchibroda as its head coach.

"It's kind of a remarkable thing," Modell said.

Bombers was included on the list of names in the phone poll, but it also appears unlikely to be used.

Although it refers to an airplane, it would remind the public of the recent bombings in Israel and in Oklahoma City. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke even wrote a letter asking the name not be used.

Explaining why the name Bombers was included in the poll, David Modell said, "We understand there were great concerns [about Bombers] and we just wanted to get greater sense if those concerns existed on a broad basis."

Among the names still on the list are Marauders, Mustangs, Ravens and two train names Railers and Americans.

Although Americans might not remind the public of a train, David Modell said they could be educated that it was the name of a train run.

Steamers got some consideration, but was ruled out after it didn't test well in the focus groups.

Ravens doesn't appear popular with team officials, but will be considered if it scores well in the phone poll. The team officials like the Americans name, but are waiting to see how it does in the poll.

The executives who will hear the presentation are Art and David Modell, Marchibroda, counsel Jim Bailey, director of football operations Ozzie Newsome, director of businessman operations Patrick Moriarity and publicity director Kevin Byrne.

David Modell said he wanted to get the results today while all the top club executives are in town for the NFL meetings.

In the poll, the fans were asked not only for their preferences, but for reasons why they liked the names.

"We're asking conceptual questions about the names," David Modell said.

Although his father said last week that the team would have a new name in two weeks, Modell was much more cautious and wouldn't set a timetable. But it appears the team is unlikely to have a name before next week.

The club also will turn its focus today toward the selling of permanent seat licenses. Team officials will meet today with Max Muhleman, who headed the initial PSL campaign in Charlotte and also conducted the ones in St. Louis and Nashville.

The team is likely to hire Muhleman to conduct its PSL campaign.

The new Baltimore team is allowed to sell $80 million worth of PSLs, which means a little more than 50,000 seats at an average of $1,500. Prices are likely to start at the $250-500 range to $4,500.

David Modell predicted Baltimore would become the first city to sell all of its PSLs, but hasn't decided when to start the campaign.

Pub Date: 3/14/96

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