Clancy as NFL owner here? That's a novel idea

August 28, 1991|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Evening Sun Staff

Novelist Tom Clancy, whose best-selling spy thrillers have earned millions, is considering filing a $100,000 application fee for ownership of a prospective NFL expansion team in Baltimore, his attorney said yesterday.

"He is on the perimeter, looking into it," Baltimore attorney David Cohan said.

"He hasn't made a definite decision, but he is exploring it."

Cohan said Clancy became interested in expansion two weeks ago, but declined to say how. Cohan would say only that the author had "been a Colts enthusiast since he was a boy, going with his father to Colts games."

Clancy, 44, is a Baltimore native who lives in Prince Frederick in Calvert County. He has written several best-sellers, the most recent of which, "The Sum of All Fears," a novel about nuclear terrorism, currently is No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. His other novels include "The Hunt for Red October," "Red Storm Rising," "Patriot Games," "The Cardinal in the Kremlin," and "Clear and Present Danger."

Clancy was an insurance agent in Maryland when his first novel, "The Hunt for Red October," was published in 1984.

According to his attorney, Clancy is "evaluating the economic viability of the situation. When he concludes that, he will be in position to make a definite statement."

Cohan also said the author was not seeking to align himself with any other group seeking an expansion team. "To the extent

Mr. Clancy decides to pursue this, he would be the principal," Cohan said.

And if he does pursue it, Cohan said, Clancy would be a "very formidable candidate."

Clancy is one of the latest in the swelling ranks of potential owners. Herbert Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said there now are eight groups who have contacted the authority about an expansion team.

"[Clancy] is considering it very seriously," Belgrad said. "His accountants are studying the pro formas we gave them. He is a Baltimorean at heart. He'd like nothing better than to see the NFL return here."

Five of those eight groups are known. In addition to Clancy, the other known investors are Bethesda real estate developer Na

than Landow, clothing magnate Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, Baltimore Blast owner Edwin Hale and former Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr.

Although Cleveland banker Alfred Lerner previously had expressed interest in a team here, he subsequently removed himself from the picture and has not returned recent phone calls.

Expansion cities must file applications with the NFL office by Sept. 16, and prospective owners must file by Oct 1. Owners must submit a fee of $100,000, of which only $50,000 will be refunded. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said yesterday in a conference call that the league's owners still are committed to expansion by two teams for the 1994 season.

Belgrad said the high number of potential investors speaks well for Baltimore's candidacy.

"Of the eight groups, at least a half dozen are viable and financially capable," he said. "That says more for our chances than any speculation. People do not invest $100,000 for a franchise unless there's a good chance of it happening."

Belgrad was contacted last Friday by the eighth group, which he described as a "family investment group that invests in real estate" among other ventures.

"This group would have no problem qualifying financially," Belgrad said. "The group is already in place. They don't have to put one together."

Belgrad declined to identify the group because of confidentiality. He said it was not a "local" group, but an "area" group.

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