Fan mail calls for desperate measures Belgrad inundated with suggestions Expansion notebook


One fan suggests a Baltimore fan parachute into an NFL stadium during a game.

Another suggests appealing to NationsBank chairman Hugh McColl, who is influential in league circles.

And local McDonald's restaurants have made plans to hand oupostcards for customers to fill out and mail to the NFL.

Baltimore isn't taking its brush-off from the NFL lightly. Fans are writing, calling and faxing ideas to everyone involved with the effort to return football to the city.

"I am inundated with wonderful people who care," said Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad. "The fact that they care makes it all worthwhile."

NFL owners on Tuesday awarded one expansion franchise to Charlotte, N.C., and delayed deciding on the second until a meeting tentatively set for Nov. 30.

Much of the conversation among the owners in the closed-door meeting concerned St. Louis, a rival whose bid staggered to the finish line this week with a new ownership group.

The league denies widespread speculation that the delay is designed to give St. Louis a chance to regroup. That Baltimore couldn't overcome a disorganized St. Louis, though, has planners working on ways to enhance the bid.

Meanwhile, the unsolicited ideas from fans are rolling in.

Belgrad, a local lawyer, acknowledges that gimmicky publicity events are not his style. But he said he won't block them if they are constructive.

"I'm not encouraging it or discouraging it as long as it is channeled and is not destructive," Belgrad said.

For example, he said, dropping pamphlets promoting Baltimore into an NFL stadium during a game, as one fan suggested, might be a bad idea.

But what about another fan's idea, to get out the governor's famous bathing suit, which he wore to the opening of the National Aquarium?

Belgrad wouldn't dip into that one.

Mixed batch of omens

The week was full of omens for the Baltimore delegation, good and bad.

On the positive side: the delegation flew to Chicago aboard a chartered plane that took off from Martin State Airport.

The airport is located near the former Glenn L. Martin factory where the legendary B-26 bomber was made during World War II. That's the plane that appears in the logo for the proposed team, the Baltimore Bombers.

On the negative side: The hotel where the NFL owners met was the same one where, nine years ago, they declined to take action that would have prevented Bob Irsay from moving the Colts.

Not giving up

Belgrad's optimism is indefatigable, even in the face of widespread speculation that the league delayed the announcement to give St. Louis more time to prepare.

"They wanted Charlotte and Charlotte is in," Belgrad said. "If they wanted St. Louis that badly, then St. Louis would be in conditional on a resolution of their ownership."

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