The anticipated sale of the New England Patriots in the wake of owner Victor K. Kiam's financial difficulties should have no bearing on Baltimore's bid for an NFL expansion team, all parties said yesterday.
None of the three primary investors who have applied for an expansion franchise here is interested in buying the Patriots.
"Am I interested in buying the team and moving it to Baltimore? No," said best-selling novelist Tom Clancy, asking and answering his own question.
"Just because someone steals your car, it doesn't mean you are entitled to go steal someone else's car. It's immoral."
Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, chairman of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc., said trying to move the Patriots to Baltimore would anger NFL officials. "They don't want that franchise to leave the Boston area," he said. "I'm Baltimore or nothing."
There was a similar response from the Malcolm I. Glazer family, which owns First Allied Corp. and is also seeking an expansion team for Baltimore.
"We're committed to Baltimore 100 percent," said Bryan Glazer, 26-year-old son of Malcolm. "We have no interest [in the Patriots]. Our goal is to bring a team to Baltimore."
Glazer said his family has not talked with anyone about the Patriots.
Although a prospective owner is being sought for the Patriots, the franchise cannot move from the New England area until at least 1994, according to an agreement made recently between the league and Kiam.
In return for the NFL owners voting to extend Kiam's debt ceiling from $35 million to $45 million, Kiam agreed not to move the club for three years. Reportedly, he has had two offers in the past year to relocate the team.
Kiam's difficulties heightened when he missed an Oct. 10 deadline to buy out minority partner Francis W. Murray for $38 million. Kiam was given until Nov. 9 to pay up, but has surrendered control of the team to the league and to Murray.
If Kiam is still unable to make the payment in 30 days, control of the franchise goes to Murray, who can either keep it or sell it. Murray is aligned with a prospective expansion team in St. Louis, and has said he wants to sell to someone who would keep the Patriots in the Boston area.
Murray's name was not on the application submitted to the NFL by the St. Louis investment group, but only because he was still affiliated with the Patriots. St. Louis businessman Jerry Clinton said recently that Murray would not take the Patriots to St. Louis.
This is the second time in league history that the NFL has taken over a franchise. The first time was 1952 when the league took over the floundering Dallas Texans and made them a road team. The following year, the Texans became the Baltimore Colts.
NFL owners will meet in Dallas next week to discuss a variety of league topics, including a general update on expansion. But representatives of cities seeking franchises have been asked not to attend.