Baltimore is PSL city, says father of idea

On the NFL

March 17, 1996|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

PALM BEACH, Fla. - Remember during the NFL expansion race when the league characterized Baltimore as an old city squeezed between Washington and Philadelphia?

That's not the image of Baltimore that marketing consultant Max Muhleman has put together.

Muhleman, who conceived the concept of permanent seat licenses in Charlotte, N.C., four years ago, met with the top executives of the Baltimore NFL team yesterday and gave them a different picture of a vibrant sports city.

Muhleman, who is likely to be hired to run the PSL campaign in Baltimore, said the city is one of the top four markets in the country along with Boston, Chicago and San Francisco when it comes to buying sports and entertainment tickets, according to his research.

That's why he expects Baltimore fans to buy the $80 million worth of PSLs that the club will put on sale before the start of next season.

"That's a very good demographic market there for what they're trying to do," Muhleman said. "The demographics are superb. I believe the Baltimore story."

He also said his study of Baltimore did not include the Washington suburbs.

Muhleman said when he studies a market for buying sports tickets, he ignores the average household income.

He said: "What matters is the household income among people who tend to be sports fans and buy sports tickets or

entertainment tickets, which are tantamount to tickets such as a concert series."

Muhleman wouldn't divulge his exact Baltimore figures or how he compiles them.

"I can't tell you all my trade secrets. They won't hire me anymore then. They'd be hiring you," he said.

But he did say that one criterion is the household income within a 25-mile radius of the city at two key levels. One is $35,000 and one is $75,000.

"We then look at who's selling tickets in that market, and if we can cross-reference those income demographics, whether it's for the Orioles or the symphony or whatever, then we have a pretty good read," he said.

For Baltimore to sell $80 million worth of PSLs, it would have to sell more than 50,000 at an average of $1,500, although the average PSL prices likely will start at the $250-$500 range and go to about $4,500 for 50-yard-line seats.

David Modell, the son of owner Art Modell, also predicted the PSLs would sell out in Baltimore. He said the campaign will stress that if you have a credit card, you can buy a PSL.

He said that a $1,000 PSL might be paid at $200 a year for five years with the help of low bank financing.

Muhleman and Modell called yesterday's meeting an exploratory one and they didn't get down to specifics about when the campaign would start or the exact prices.

Back and brash

Jimmy Johnson is back and he's as brash as ever.

The former Dallas Cowboys coach, who took a two-year television and sailing sabbatical after parting company with owner Jerry Jones in 1994, has picked up right where he left off.

Remember when he predicted the Cowboys were going to beat the San Francisco 49ers in the 1993 NFC title game?

He has replaced Don Shula as Miami Dolphins coach and he drew a standing-room-only crowd of writers around his table at the coaches' media breakfast during the NFL meetings last week.

"We're the team to beat, not anyone else in our division," %J Johnson said. "We'll win. There's no doubt in my mind that we will win. And in all honesty, there's 29 guys in this room [the other coaches], they know we're going to win, too. I'm not making a prediction, but I want my players to have the attitude that we are the team to beat."

He also didn't want anybody to think that he wants to win a Super Bowl so Dan Marino can finally get his first ring.

"I could say I want it for Dan Marino. The hell with that; I want it for Jimmy Johnson," he said.

He even sent a message to his old team.

"You can tell Dallas that we have the attitude that we're the team to beat," he said.

Jones responded: "I know Jimmy thought Miami had the team to beat last year under Shula. It doesn't surprise me he still thinks they're the team to beat this year. Jimmy's never been afraid to put a big responsibility and high expectations on his team."

Barry Switzer, who replaced Johnson at Dallas, said: "We won the Super Bowl, so we're the best team in the league."

Super Tuesday

The primary race for the presidential campaign may be over, but there's still going to be a big election in Cincinnati on Tuesday when voters will be asked to approve a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for stadiums for the Bengals and Reds.

The vote is likely to determine the future of the NFL in Cincinnati. Although the Bengals say they'll play in Cincinnati this fall regardless of how the vote comes out, the team could be on its way out of town if the vote fails.

The logical place for the Bengals to go would be Cleveland. The Browns and Bengals were founded by the late Paul Brown, whose son, Mike, now runs the Bengals.

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