Ten potential owners representing eight communities -- including three from Baltimore -- filed their $100,000 fee to enter the expansion derby, the NFL said yesterday.
Three communities that filed applications two weeks ago -- Honolulu, Nashville, Tenn., and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. -- did not come up with potential owners willing to submit the fee, of which only $50,000 is refundable.
The NFL has said the two expansion teams will be named by fall of 1992 and will play in 1994. But, in its announcement, the league included the standard provision that it would delay expansion if "labor-management issues constitute an impediment to the expansion timeta
ble." The NFL is involved in a legal fight over free agency with the players.
The other areas in the race -- in alphabetical order -- are Charlotte, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., Memphis, Tenn., Oakland, Calif., Sacramento, Calif., San Antonio and St. Louis.
The potential owners from two cities -- Oakland and Sacramento -- asked the NFL not to reveal their names. The NFL listed two community leaders -- George Vukasin of Oakland and George Christopulos of Sacramento -- in their place.
Of the eight other potential owners, six are groups and two -- Malcolm Glazer, the Florida businessman who is attempting to get a team for Baltimore, and Red McCombs, the owner of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs who wants to own a San Antonio team -- are listed as sole owners.
It's uncertain if McCombs is attempting to get partners, but Glazer is going it alone with his family because the NFL has asked for a "narrow-based" ownership group. Glazer's selling point is that he has said he has the cash to write a check for $150 million-$200 million purchase price of the team.
The other potential Baltimore ownership groups are headed by author Tom Clancy and Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, the chairman of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc. Weinglass' group is called Baltimore Football Associates, and Clancy's group is called Baltimore Professional Football Limited Partnership.
Weinglass heads a six-man group that he says has a net worth of $350 million. Clancy has declined to reveal anything about his partnership group or his lobbying effort.
"You never lay your cards on the table," Clancy said.
Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said he thinks it's a plus for Baltimore to be the only city with more than one group vying for the team.
He said that, as far back as 1987, then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle told him that it was in Baltimore's best interests not to align with a single owner.
Belgrad said that in the cover letter with Baltimore's application for a team two weeks ago. In a phone conversation with an NFL official this week, Belgrad asked to be informed if there was any change in the position Rozelle gave him four years ago.
Belgrad also said he hoped the three groups "will present their merits and strengths and refrain from being negative with any other group. It's counterproductive to Baltimore's
efforts if one group is tearing down another and the owners begin to question whether we have any viable groups."
Weinglass and Clancy have been critical of the Glazers for not being natives of Baltimore. However, several members of Glazer's family have promised to move to the city if it gets a team.
Clancy said that Belgrad's call to refrain from negative comments "makes perfectly good sense to me."
He said his comment about the Glazers' not being local was a "comparative statement, not an adverse statement. I always give the guy the benefit of the doubt."
On the local ownership issue, Glazer's son Bryan noted that three members of the expansion committee, Edward DeBartolo of the San Francisco 49ers, Norman Braman of the Philadelphia Eagles and Alex Spanos of the San Diego Chargers, don't live in the cities where their teams play.
Two others on the committee, Art Modell of the Cleveland Browns and Hugh Culverhouse of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, moved to their cities after they acquired teams. Only Rankin Smith of the Atlanta Falcons is a native.
"I think the fans should focus on the city getting a franchise and let the NFL pick the owner," Bryan Glazer said.
There was no real surprise in the listing of the other ownership groups, except that Fran Murray wasn't listed as one of the potential St. Louis owners. He's attempting to sell 49 percent of the New England Patriots to majority owner Victor Kiam, who hasn't been able to come up with the money.
Potential ownership groups
Baltimore -- Baltimore Professional Football Limited Partnership (Tom Clancy); Malcolm Glazer; Baltimore Football Associates (Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass)
Charlotte, N.C. -- Richardson Sports (Jerry Richardson)
Jacksonville, Fla. -- Touchdown Jacksonville Partners (Tom Petway)
Memphis, Tenn. -- Memphis Ownership Group (William Dunavant Jr., Paul Tudor Jones II, Willie Davis)
Oakland, Calif. -- Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex (George Vukasin)
Sacramento, Calif. -- Sacramento/Northern California NFL Effort (George Christopulos)
San Antonio -- McCombs Enterprises (Red McCombs)
St. Louis -- St. Louis NFL Partnership (James Busch Orthwein, Jerry Clinton, Walter Payton)