Glazers: City is gaining in NFL race

June 24, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

Bryan Glazer likes to compare the NFL's expansion derby to the fable of the tortoise and the hare.

"You never want to be one of the people who are No. 1 when you start out," he said. "That's the curse."

Glazer, the son of Florida businessman Malcolm Glazer, who's heading one of the three owner groups attempting to get an expansion team for Baltimore, says Baltimore is playing the tortoise role.

When the Glazers decided to bid for a team in Baltimore last year because they thought the city had the most to offer the NFL, the general perception was that Baltimore was running third in a two-horse race behind Charlotte and St. Louis.

But since the owners were given a detailed look at the financial pictures of the five cities left in the race at a meeting in May in Pasadena, Calif., the perception has started to change.

Since Baltimore has the public funding for a new football stadium and Charlotte will try to build one with private funds, Baltimore's stock is rising.

"The situation is the same, but people are starting to open their eyes," Glazer said. "People are starting to focus a little more on the Charlotte situation."

Borrowing the money to both build a stadium and buy the team would leave the Charlotte investors saddled with a huge debt service.

"Baltimore's got the money in place for the stadium," Glazer said. "Baltimore's got a proven track record. I think everything that's going on at Camden Yards is fantastic. All the other cities talk about what they can do. Baltimore's done it."

If Baltimore does get a team, the next question is which group will own it. The Glazers are vying with Merry-Go-Round chairman Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass and author Tom Clancy for the nod from the NFL, which will pick the new owners.

The Glazers say they're offering the league the best deal for a team because they'll pay cash for it and they won't have any partners.

But they have to deal with the perception that they're outsiders because both Weinglass and Clancy are Baltimore natives. Weinglass seems to have made a favorable impression on the owners despite his unconventional lifestyle and ponytail. He's obviously charmed some of them and was recently named by The Sporting News as the likely owner of the Baltimore team.

The Glazers' failure to come up with $50,000 for the Maryland Stadium Authority to help fund the city's lobbying effort (both Weinglass and Clancy paid) also raised questions about their desire to look beyond the bottom line.

Bryan, 26, and his brother, Joel, 24, are in town this week making the talk show circuit as they try to change those perceptions. They said their No. 1 priority would be to field a winning team.

As far as declining to make the $50,000 contribution, Joel said, "When the final story is written on expansion in Baltimore, no one will ever say the Glazers didn't do their fair share."

What they'd like to talk about is their attachment to the city even though they're not natives. Bryan and Joel said they'll move here if they're awarded the team.

"No Vail," said Joel, a not-so-subtle reference to the fact that Weinglass lives in Vail, Colo., despite his deep roots in Baltimore.

"People don't understand that our heart's always been in Baltimore because we grew up in Rochester, N.Y., watching all the great Orioles players come through Rochester with the Red Wings," Bryan said. "We've always cared about this city."

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