Bengals considering look at expansion-losing cities Brown unhappy with stadium deal

November 06, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

Add the Cincinnati Bengals to the NFL teams that may want to court the losers in the expansion derby.

Mike Brown, vice president and general manager of the Bengals, told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday that he's unhappy with his stadium situation and added, "If we can't get something here, maybe that's the direction [looking at cities that don't get expansion teams] we're going to have to think about going."

Brown, who did not return phone calls yesterday, is irritated because the new mayor of Cincinnati, Roxanne Qualls, proposed building a baseball-only stadium for the Reds while leaving the Bengals in a renovated Riverfront Stadium.

"That's not going to get it done," Brown said. "They have got to realize that a problem exists and the people who count have to understand how important our problem is. If the city wants a long-term commitment from us, we're not going to make it in a second-rate facility."

Brown, though, did suggest that he would be willing to share a new domed stadium with the Reds.

"Our preference would be for an open air football stadium such as has been built in Kansas City and Buffalo, but we want to try to make this work for everyone, and if that requires a dome stadium, we would agree despite it not being our preference," he said.

The Bengals join the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, the Los Angeles Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as teams that are likely to consider looking at the losers in the expansion derby.

So far, John Shaw, executive vice president of the Rams, has been the only team official to publicly say he would consider it. Shaw said last week he'd look at Baltimore "when the dust settles" if the city doesn't get an expansion team. Brown didn't mention any specific cities.

Baltimore and three other cities -- St. Louis, Memphis, Tenn., and Jacksonville, Fla. -- are vying for the second expansion team that is scheduled to be selected at a meeting in Chicago on Nov. 30.

St. Louis is considered the heavy favorite to get the second team even though the city has had problems with its ownership situation. Charlotte was selected on Oct. 26.

Despite Brown's comments, the Bengals aren't considered a team likely to move. Brown, the son of a football legend, the late Paul Brown, is a team player in the league who doesn't have a maverick reputation.

His comments are seen as a warning to Cincinnati not to build a baseball-only stadium for the Reds and try to leave his team at Riverfront.

But he didn't sound like a man ready to pick up and move.

"I like being in Cincinnati. I feel part of the community, and we've been happy, but I'm faced with a difficult situation," he said.

Cincinnati officials seemed to be taking Brown seriously. "It would be naive to think of it as a bluff. It has the potential to become a reality," said John Williams, president of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.

Herbert Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said: "We're in it for expansion. We expect to be successful, so he should be talking to St. Louis. But if it [expansion] doesn't work out, we want an NFL team."

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