City turns to past to corral support


Baltimore's NFL backers hope their new storefront information center will help catapult them into the league's future. But it's also a rare glimpse of the league and city's common history.

The NFL information headquarters, opening at noon today on the second floor of the Gallery at Harborplace, includes an elaborate display of memorabilia from the Colts, who played in Baltimore from 1953 until moving to Indianapolis in 1984.

There's a game ball from the 1958 championship game -- the thriller that ended with a sudden-death Colts victory and helped establish the popularity of the NFL. There's the 1971 Super Bowl trophy and jerseys from John Unitas and Tom Matte. All are arranged behind screens painted with football scenes and are ++ highlighted in sequence by spotlights.

Elsewhere in the center are video monitors playing clips from famous Colts games, a display on the effort to return the city to the NFL and interactive computer to answer questions about the campaign.

"The more people know, the more they will be willing to invest" in the NFL effort, said Anya Harris, a spokeswoman for the city's football bid. The center was designed by the Babe Ruth Museum and is being underwritten by Maryland National Bank.

Applications for club seats and sky boxes will be distributed and accepted at the center, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 weekends throughout the two-month campaign.

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