Baltimore officials, having made their last big pitch to the National Football League this week, can take comfort that whatever the NFL has asked, Maryland has done. And more.
Important as it was to demonstrate the Baltimore area, too, could sell out its premium seats without any guarantee they would materialize, we think other developments this summer have been even more important. Charlotte had to sell out (it didn't). For Baltimore, it was a bonus.
Selling out the 8,500 premium seats was important because we had to meet the challenge. The uproar over the name of the hoped-for team and the seeming endorsement of Charlotte's bid by the NAACP were ample evidence of the broad support for major league football in this region. And the throngs at FanFest during baseball All-Star Week, spending huge amounts for high-ticket souvenirs, attest to the market for first-class sports.
For all the sentimental appeal of a metropolitan area deprived of its beloved football team by a muddle-headed owner, Baltimore's case for one of the two NFL expansion franchises to be awarded in late October must be dollars and cents. The region's case is very strong.
Only one of the other four cities competing for a team comes close to matching the $1 million visiting NFL teams would collect as their share of game revenues. None of the existing NFL cities produces that much money for the visiting team. The bonanza is attributable to the terms of the lease on the stadium that would be built from lottery proceeds if Baltimore gets a franchise.
Some fear Baltimore is not large enough a TV market contrasted with the large, football-starved hinterlands around Charlotte and Louis. Actually, football revenues don't weigh as heavily as several other factors. Another TV market might provide hundreds of thousands of dollars more than Baltimore, but once the money is divided 30 ways it doesn't amount to much.
Moreover, Baltimore is a decent television market. It's a little smaller than St. Louis and a lot larger than Charlotte. Yet during this year's Super Bowl, proportionately more television sets were tuned to the game in Baltimore than any other city without an NFL team.
Assuming the choice of expansion cities will be a cold-blooded business decision -- as it will be -- Maryland scores high on every factor.