NFL news of September 13, 2002

One of these days, there’s going to be an NFL team in Los Angeles again, and it just might be the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts, who bolted Baltimore for the Midwest 18 years ago, renegotiated their RCA Dome lease with the city 3 years ago, but it’s not working out for either side.

“(The deal) is a Band-Aid,” owner Jim Irsay said this week. “The situation now is a lot graver.”

Despite the drawing power of Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison, the Colts have been unable to sell out the RCA Dome, and their revenue from luxury boxes and club seats ranks near the bottom of the league.

Their stadium seats just 56,127 and they sold only 39,000 season tickets this season. They have just 104 luxury suites, which sell for considerably less than the ones in Dallas, New York and Philadelphia. Their luxury-suite revenue this year is just $13.4 million. The expansion Houston Texans, who are in the same division, are expected to take in $42.4 million.

According to the terms of the renegotiated lease, if the Colts’ revenues fall below the league median 3 years in a row, the city would be obligated to cut a check for the difference. But even some Indy city officials question the sense of spending tens of millions of dollars to hang on to a team that nobody is willing to pay to go see.

Irsay has suggested the possibility of the city building the Colts a new outdoor stadium. But if they can’t fill a temperature-controlled dome, what chance do they have of filling an outdoor joint in December?

— Curt Sylvester, Philadelphia Daily News “Bill Belichick the lone dissenter on 9-11 observance, and other notes”

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