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A Sellout at Pierce Would Go Long Way for Express

Times Staff Writer

In the past few months the Los Angeles Express has been described as a hobo wearing a tuxedo, a shivering pup looking for shelter, almost dead.

At times, each description has been accurate.

Express officials spent much of the last week trying to change these perceptions. They’re trying to keep publicity upbeat, positive.

It’s a tough objective, considering: Steve Young, the team’s star quarterback is hurt; the organization might be sued by the Los Angeles Coliseum; and rumors about the United States ootball League folding continue to circulate.

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And that’s without mentioning that players from the San Antonio Gunslingers, the Express’ next opponent, are threatening to boycott Sunday’s game if their missing checks don’t arrive before game time.

Still, cheery voices and smiles abound in the team’s offices. The reason: They’re trying to sell the team.

Dick Berg, an Express marketing consultant, revealed this week that there are three groups of prospective buyers, all of whom will be in attendance June 15 when the Express plays the Arizona Wranglers at Pierce College in the Valley’s first professional football game.

We’d like to make this kind of our year-end showing for the Valley area,” Berg said. “Hopefully, if we get the kind of response we anticipate, this will be the coup de gras for those interested in buying the team.”

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Berg says the team is hoping for sellout crowd of close to 16,000, but he predicted that the crowd’s atmosphere would do more to convince a prospective owner than just a big turnout.

“They’ll want to see some enthusiasm,” Berg said. “I think that is what will impress them most.”

Berg declined to say how many tickets had been sold, but he did say that the number was higher than it had been for any game this season, with the exception of the home opener.

The Express drew 18,828 for its Feb. 24 opener against Houston. Since then, attendance has declined steadily. The average is 8,775 for eight home dates, with a league-record low of 3,059 last week against Denver.

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