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Expansion's best seats still on hold NFL hopefuls can start sales July 1


Don't run out just yet to sign the lease for your sky box at Baltimore's future football stadium.

Baltimore and the other cities trying to land an NFL expansion team cannot begin marketing their premium seats until July 1, according to rules issued by the league yesterday. The competing cities cannot even announce the details of their campaigns until June 1.

Under the ticket program, part of an effort by the NFL to compare the five finalists, leases can be signed for premium seats until Sept. 3 and the results reported by Sept. 10.

"We're not going to analyze these campaigns on how fast these are sold, but rather if they can support the numbers in their applications," said Roger Goodell, vice president of operations for the NFL.

The finalists are Baltimore, Jacksonville, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., Memphis, Tenn., and St. Louis.

Baltimore's application estimated that it would have 7,500 so-called club seats and 100 sky boxes. The club seats were estimated to cost $1,200 a year. The price of a sky box was estimated at an average of $70,000 a year.

For the campaign, the cities are being asked by the NFL to collect 50 percent of the first year's rent as a deposit. The money will be refunded with interest within 10 days of the city learning it has not won a team. In the cities that win teams, the box and club seat customers must put up the other half of a year's rent within six months of the franchise award.

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