In their battle to win a National Football League franchise in Baltimore, Florida businessman Malcolm Glazer and his sons have turned some of their attention to winning the hearts of the people by donating 20 new instruments to the orphaned Baltimore Colts Band.
The brassy gift -- scheduled to be announced by the Glazers and band president John Ziemann at a news conference today -- will be heard Thursday when the musical group performs at the Miami Dolphins-New Orleans Saints exhibition game at Memorial Stadium.
The family also has provided 60,000 pompons that will be handed out at the stadium gates so "Baltimoreans can show their enthusiasm, which is what they do best," said one of the sons, Joel Glazer.
"There's no question when the whole country sees the game in Baltimore on national TV [ESPN], they'll see the great enthusiasm in Baltimore and the great football tradition you can't take away," he said. "That should springboard us into the future."
Four other cities are in the battle for two expansion teams envisioned for the 1994 season -- St. Louis; Charlotte, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Jacksonville, Fla.
Competing with the Glazers for a Baltimore NFL franchise are groups headed by Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass of Aspen, Colo., who grew up in Baltimore and is chairman of the Merry-Go-Round clothing store chain, and author Tom Clancy of Calvert County, son of a Baltimore mail carrier.
"It's a charitable act -- good for them," was Mr. Clancy's reaction last night. And if the gift was also a tactical move in the ownership competition, "it's an odd arms race," he added. Mr. Weinglass could not be reached for comment.
The 20 instruments include eight contra/tuba bass horns and 12 mellophones. Estimated to be worth $30,000 to $40,000, the gift follows by a month the Glazer family's contribution of $50,000 to help pay forBaltimore's NFL lobbying efforts.
The Maryland Stadium Authority asked each of the bidders for that financial help last year, but while Mr. Weinglass and Mr. Clancy wrote out checks, the Glazers had refused.
The marching band, dating to 1947, has been playing without a team since owner Robert Irsay's midnight move of the Colts to Indianapolis eight years ago. It currently has about 150 volunteer members.
The musical gift stemmed from a meeting between Mr. Ziemann and the Glazers at a January "pep rally" promoting Thursday's Dolphins-Saints game, according to Joel Glazer and the band president.
"[Mr. Ziemann] mentioned many of their needs, and we wanted for this national TV game for the band to be at their best," Mr. Glazer said. "The band represents the great football tradition of Baltimore and we recognize that.
Mr. Ziemann said last night that the Glazers wanted nothing in exchange -- except assurances that the band would go on playing even if the city does not win a new team.
The family also wanted the band to remain nonpartisan in the ownership competition, Mr. Ziemann added.
In comments prepared for today's formal announcement, Malcolm Glazer said, "Our family's mission has been to bring the NFL back to Baltimore, and we consider the Baltimore Colts Band partners in that mission. We look forward to the day we can all celebrate the 47th anniversary of the band at opening day of our new NFL team in Baltimore."
"We feel that we want to be accepted by the people in Baltimore," Joel Glazer said. "They've had situations in the past with owners they haven't been happy with. We want them to be happy with the owners of the new NFL team. We feel very confident when the team is awarded that we will be the owners of that team."