Florida businessman Malcolm Glazer may have to put up only about $27 million in cash to buy the New England Patriots, according to minority partner Fran Murray.
Murray, who said yesterday that "negotiations are continuing" between Glazer and majority owner Victor Kiam, put a ballpark figure for the price of the club at $110 million.
Murray said that figure would include the $38 million that he is owed for 49 percent of the club.
Murray, though, wants to retain his interest in the club until after the league names two expansion teams, which it is scheduled to do this fall.
If St. Louis gets one of the two expansion teams, Murray would want to sell his interest in the Patriots to the majority owner and become one of the owners of the St. Louis team.
Of the remaining $72 million purchase price, $45 million is debt the club owes to banks, an amount Glazer wouldn't have to pay back immediately.
Although the debt limit for an NFL club is supposed to be $35 million, Kiam got permission to increase it to $45 million a year ago.
That would leave only $27 million in cash that Glazer would need now to gain control of the team if he doesn't want to pay off the bank loans immediately.
When Glazer headed one of the three groups that put up $100,000 to apply for an expansion team for Baltimore, his selling point was that he could write a check for $150 million to pay for the team.
The NFL hasn't put a price on the expansion teams, but estimates have ranged between $125 million and $150 million, although it is likely that the NFL would allow the money to be paid in installments.
A $27 million payment would allow Glazer to gain control of a team for much less than it would cost him to buy an expansion team.
Another sign that Glazer is going at full speed with plans to buy the Patriots came yesterday when he canceled an appearance at the Ed Block Courage Awards banquet tonight.
Hal Krell, a vice president of the Block Foundation, said that Glazer's secretary called and said he couldn't attend because "something had come up."
"It was about a 15-second phone call," Krell said.
Glazer had been scheduled to attend the banquet with sons Bryan and Joel.
The Glazers haven't returned phone calls since Kiam told the NFL owners Thursday in Dallas that he is negotiating with the Glazers.
All three groups that applied for a franchise for Baltimore had been invited to the dinner, which honors courageous players from each of the 28 teams. It is named for the late trainer of the Baltimore Colts.
Author Tom Clancy is scheduled to attend, and Mike Sullivan, a member of the Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass group, is scheduled to represent Weinglass.
Weinglass, the chairman of Merry-Go-Round, a nationwide chain of clothing stores, hasn't returned phone calls since the Glazers got into this round of negotiations with Kiam.
Clancy has taken the position that since he plans to head the No. 1 group, he doesn't pay much attention to what the other groups are doing.
It is uncertain what will happen to Baltimore's chances of getting an expansion team if Glazer buys the Patriots.
There has been speculation that if New England fails to build a new stadium to replace antiquated Foxboro Stadium and Baltimore is bypassed in the latest expansion round, Glazer would move the team to Baltimore.
Murray, though, said yesterday that he still thinks civic leaders in New England will find a way to finance a new stadium. Murray headed the effort in St. Louis to build a convention center that will include a domed stadium to get that city back in the expansion race after the Cardinals left for Phoenix in 1988.
"A big project like that takes time. It takes a little luck," Murray said.
He said it might take two years to get the financing in place to build a stadium in New England.
Murray also said he thinks "something will develop in the next few days" in the negotiations between Glazer and Kiam.
League officials hope that Kiam wraps up negotiations by the time the league's annual meeting opens in Phoenix on March 15.
Murray returned to his Boston office yesterday from Palm Beach, Fla., where he spent the weekend. Murray said he was in Palm Beach to celebrate his 27th wedding anniversary, although Glazer has a home there.
Murray said he wasn't sure whether Kiam and Glazer were talking in Florida or in New York, where the lawyers for the two sides have been meeting.
Kiam hasn't commented on the negotiations since the meeting in Dallas on Thursday.