NFL Expansion: Cash Counts

September 28, 1991

If Baltimore wins the race for a National Football League expansion team, it will need to unite behind a single bidder. And that individual has to possess oodles and oodles of hard, cold cash -- perhaps as much as $200 million worth.

Nathan Landow, a prominent Maryland real estate developer, had pieced together an impressive group of well-heeled individuals eager to plunk down $100 million in greenbacks to secure an NFL team for Baltimore. But this won't be nearly enough to win the hard-fought contest. Other cities, especially Charlotte, N.C., St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn., have leaped ahead of Baltimore as the towns favored to win one of the two franchises next year largely because each city is backing a single, wealthy investment group.

In contrast, Baltimore still has four different groups in the hunt for a franchise. It is a debilitating chase in which multiple Baltimore bidders are seriously weakening the city's chances. Mr. Landow wisely recognized what was happening and withdrew his group from the race, throwing his support behind Florida businessman Malcolm Glazer. Other bidders should do the same thing.

As the sole owner of First Allied Corp. -- a conglomerate with vast real estate and shopping center holdings in 21 states -- Mr. Glazer has the financial wherewithal and the willingness to buy a team for Baltimore even if it costs $200 million in cash. Two of his sons have pledged to move to Baltimore on a permanent basis if their father is awarded an NFL franchise.

This is the kind of financial clout that would put Baltimore back in contention for a professional football team. As Mr. Landow noted, "We all recognize that cash is what matters most to the NFL," and that Mr. Glazer's all-cash offer could prove irresistible. None of the other local groups can come close to matching it. They ought to recognize this reality and do what's best for the city by endorsing Malcolm Glazer's bid to return NFL football to Baltimore.

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