Belgrad says premium seats sell well But he declines to give numbers


Herbert J. Belgrad, coordinator of Baltimore's efforts to attract an NFL expansion franchise, yesterday termed the sale of club seats and sky boxes an "overwhelming success."

The two-month sales campaign began July 1, with fans putting down deposits on the 100 luxury sky suites ($105,000 each) and 7,500 club seats ($1,700 each).

Belgrad, though, declined to give specific numbers.

"I don't want to get into a numbers game in the press, but I could not be more pleased," Belgrad said. "Both the luxury suites and the club seats were practically sold out the first day."

In addition to Baltimore, four cities are seeking one of two franchises to be awarded this October: St. Louis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Memphis, Tenn.

Charlotte also is peddling one-time season-ticket fees that will drive the cost of attending the inaugural season there to an average of $2,500 a seat. The money is needed to finance stadium construction.

Mark Richardson, a member of the Charlotte group, said Monday that based on the volume of mail and the average number of ticket requests per mailing, between 40,000 and 45,000 of the 60,000 available seats are projected as sold.

Richardson said his group hopes to sell the remaining seats before the NFL evaluates each city's situation on Sept. 3.

But NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said yesterday that only the sale of the premium seats will be taken into consideration.

"If they sell out by mid-July, they sell out by mid-July. That will not be a factor," said Tagliabue. "We've made it clear to the various groups that the reports will be taken from each city, and evaluated on a comparative basis and how it stacks up to our market analysis."

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