It was fitting that when Bob Tisch stepped out of Baltimore's expansion picture this week, Nathan Landow emerged from behind Tisch's tall shadow.
"Bob's a good friend and it was through my efforts early on that brought his interest level up to get involved with Baltimore to begin with," Landow said yesterday.
Landow, a wealthy Montgomery County real estate developer, heads one of three known groups vying for ownership of a potential Baltimore expansion franchise in the NFL. His group includes Vernon Jordan Jr., a nationally prominent attorney and civil rights activist, and Herbert Haft, a Baltimore-born businessman based in Landover.
"I think we have an ownership group that's highly credible and financially capable to make a commitment of the kind we think will be necessary to get a franchise," Landow said. Landow said he bases that commitment on his estimation it will cost $125 million to land an expansion franchise.
At one point, Tisch, president of the Loews Corp., and Landow were partners in Baltimore's expansion venture. But Tisch broke away to lead his own group.
"There's been no change in our commitment in pursuing a franchise," Landow said. "Bob Tisch's entry into that effort did not diminish our efforts in any way. Bob was great competition, not only for the other prospective owners, but for the city and state as well."
Also in the running with Landow are groups headed by former Green Bay great Bart Starr and Blast owner Ed Hale. Herb Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said another group, consisting of local and out-of-state investors, has expressed an interest as well.
Another possible ownership candidate is Alfred Lerner, the chairman and chief executive officer of MNC Financial Inc. in Cleveland. Lerner was originally interested in a franchise, but stepped aside when Tisch entered the picture. It's uncertain whether he will want to get involved again, although Belgrad said he would investigate the possibility. Lerner did not return a phone call yesterday.