Would-be Baltimore NFL owners ready game plans League expected to OK expansion by 2 today

May 22, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

MINNEAPOLIS : — MINNEAPOLIS -- With the National Football League owners poised to approve a two-team expansion for 1994 today, the three groups vying to own a team in Baltimore are ready to move forward with their bids.

Nathan Landow, a Maryland land developer who is chairman of the Democratic Party of Maryland, Ed Hale, owner of the Baltimore Blast, and Phyllis Brotman, a local advertising executive who is the spokeswoman for the group headed by former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr, said they plan to bid for the franchise if Baltimore gets one of the two teams.

Landow, whose group includes Washington businessman Herbert Haft and former Urban League head Vernon Jordan, said from Rome, where he's combining a vacation with business, that he plans to attempt to schedule a meeting with commissioner Paul Tagliabue when he returns to the United States.

Landow said he and Jordan met with the commissioner four months ago, and, at that time, Tagliabue's message was that there was no need for any activity.

"He's kind of guided us along the way," Landow said of the commissioner.

Jordan and Tagliabue are friends from their days as Washington lawyers.

Landow also said that one of the reasons Haft's son, Robert, the chief executive officer of Crown Books, declined to get involved with an effort to get a baseball team in Washington was that the NFL frowns on families owning teams in more than one sport.

Since New York businessman Robert Tisch has dropped out of the Baltimore picture to buy half of the New York Giants, Haft is believed to be the wealthiest man attempting to get the Baltimore franchise. His family's net worth is estimated at $500 million.

Landow also said his group may add a fourth person in the near future.

Hale, who has been involved in an attempted bank takeover, said he has put together a 10-man group.

The Starr group's biggest investor was Colorado Springs, Colo., developer Tom Stoen. He still is involved, but Brotman said the group recently has added a new, bigger investor, though he has asked not to be identified.

Even if the owners approve expansion today, as expected, the groups will have plenty of time to complete their efforts, because the league apparently won't name the teams before fall 1992. After the cities are selected, the league will select owners.

Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, continues to lead Baltimore's lobbying effort. He arrived at the meetings last night to update owners on the city's situation.

Raymond "Chip" Mason, chief executive officer of the Legg Mason investment firm, said he also might attend the meetings today. Mason, who would represent the Greater Baltimore Committee, said he wants to emphasize that the Baltimore business community is supporting the expansion effort. It is expected to come up with a season-ticket guarantee as part of the Baltimore package.

Besides expansion, the other main item on the agenda will be the awarding of the 1995 Super Bowl. Houston is expected to be awarded the game over Miami and Tampa, Fla.

The league asked New Orleans to bid, but the city declined to do so because the Louisiana Superdome had been committed to a convention.

That prompted Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman, who heads the Super Bowl site selection committee, to propose that the league make a permanent rotation of New Orleans, Miami and Los Angeles and add a different city every fourth year. It's unlikely this idea can get 21 votes, because owners of the other contending cities wouldn't support it.

The 1996 Super Bowl won't be awarded until Arizona votes in November 1992 on whether to approve a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday for state workers. Phoenix has been awarded the game on a conditional basis. The NFL won't say what the condition is, but the league pulled the 1993 Super Bowl out of Phoenix and awarded it to Los Angeles after voters turned down the holiday last November.

The league also will discuss several proposed rule changes, including allowing teams to dress a third quarterback as a 46th player. Teams can dress only 45 players, and many have only two quarterbacks.

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