Expansion hopefuls delighted

December 11, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

Joel Glazer called it "the light at the end of the tunnel" fo Baltimore's expansion hopes.

Glazer, whose father, Malcolm Glazer, heads one of the groups trying to get an expansion team for Baltimore, was excited about the news that the NFL owners and players have reached an agreement in principle that could pave the way for the league to go ahead with expansion.

"You've made my day," he said. "It's the best news I've heard in a long, long time. We're all ready to go."

Glazer, author Tom Clancy, who heads another one of the groups, and Herbert Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, had similar reactions.

"I'd say it's good news," Clancy said.

Said Belgrad: "It's been a long time coming. I hope this time it's for real. There have been many false starts, but this sounds like it can be it. Obviously, it paves the way for expansion."

Baltimore is a finalist, along with St. Louis, Charlotte, N.C., Memphis, Tenn., and Jacksonville, Fla.

The league originally had announced a timetable in which two teams would be named in the fall of 1992 to play in 1994. The timetable was delayed at least a year because of the labor strife.

Belgrad now expects the process to be started up again.

"We've heard over the last five or six years that the owners wanted to have a CBA in place before they expanded," he said. "Well, they now appear to have a CBA so we could have two cities selected in March."

Clancy not only predicted Baltimore would be awarded a team, but said his group will prevail.

"I'm not in this to lose. What do I have to do to convince people I'm serious?" he said. "I've got over $300,000 invested in this venture. Do you think I'd put that kind of money up if I thought Baltimore was a bad bet? This is a business decision. They'll look at the numbers and see which city will make the most money for the league. Baltimore looks pretty good in that area. We'll probably outperform some of the teams that are already there."

Said Glazer: "We've always been optimistic. Nothing's changed. Baltimore still has everything going for it. I don't think any other city can say that."

If the league names two teams in March, it would be possible to play in 1994, but Belgrad said he'd be happy with a 1995 start-up date because it would give the city more time to build a football stadium at Camden Yards.

Although the free agency that is included in the deal will raise the cost of operating a club, Glazer said the plus is that Baltimore or any other expansion team will be able to buy some good players and become competitive more quickly.

"We expected there would be free agency and this will enable us to get off to a quick start," Glazer said.

Said Clancy: "I have to see the deal before I can comment on it, but I have to assume it'll make club operations somewhat more expensive than it is today."

Glazer and Clancy both said they've submitted team nicknames to the league, but couldn't identify them until they get the approval from the league.

It's uncertain if Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass will continue in the expansion derby or will attempt to buy the Orioles.

Belgrad said he expects Weinglass to continue the quest for a football team.

Expansion hopefuls excited

Key points of the proposed deal

Free agency: Will come after five years of experience.

Exempt players: The owners would be able to designate one player -- a franchise player -- who can't become a free agent. His salary would have to be among the top five at his position.

Right of first refusal: In the first year of the contract, each team would be able to subject two players to the right of first refusal. In the second year, each team would be able to subject one player to the right of first refusal.

Salary cap: Would be 67 percent of designated gross revenues. If the cap reached that figure in any year, four-year players would get free agency the following year. The cap would then drop to 64 percent of the gross. Each team would have to spend 50 percent of its revenue on players.

The college draft: Would be cut to seven rounds, but there would be 28 extra picks for teams that lose players.

Rookie salaries: Would be limited to 3.5 percent of the gross, or about $2 million per team.

Contract length: Six years.

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