What's needed to lure existing NFL team is state authority to build new stadium

Phil Jackman

November 10, 1993|By Phil Jackman

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As of just a few moments ago, the only professional football team that hadn't made veiled overtures to move here to the Land of Pleasant Living and Milk And Honey was the Bombay Bearcats of the East Indian Football & Field Hockey Federation.

Count 'em -- the Bengals, the Buccaneers, the Patriots, the Raiders and the Rams with Phoenix and its crowds in the mid-30s all are thinking about placing an anonymous phone call any minute now. These are all scare tactics and sword-rattling designed to get the local folks on the stick to provide a new stadium or scores of luxury boxes and club seats requiring the purchaser to establish a $100,000 line of credit.

But let's imagine that one, two or all of these teams are serious. Voila, we could have a whole division. What could the Maryland Stadium Authority offer them, the same "everything belongs to you including the air, water and mineral rights plus permission to establish a surtax" currently on the table for an expansion franchise?

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your stand on this never-ending and sordid mess, negotiations for a new stadium and the various guarantees and giveaways would probably have to return to ground zero.

See, the stadium authority is really an organization created to DTC accomplish construction. All that other stuff -- getting a lease for the baseball park, ferreting out a football franchise, etc. -- is an adjunct.

A signed lease, no matter how long it took Eli Jacobs to get around to signing it, was necessary to get Oriole Park built. An expansion franchise, granted by the NFL, is the main ingredient giving a football stadium the go-ahead and, although their play often resembles it, the supposedly interested franchises are not expansion teams.

Under the umbrella of the Maryland Stadium Authority, state, city and business interests have operated and dealt with the Orioles and the expansion bid. To continue in that function as far as football is concerned, the original legislation would have to be rewritten.

If and when Baltimore is turned down for the hundredth time at the end of the month, chances are the state's lawmakers would be receptive to the effort's being continued, whether it was a new team or a disgruntled old team being sought.

One saving grace to coaxing an existing team to come here would be we would not have to go through the excruciating trauma of having to name the team. It nearly caused riot and bloodshed here previously.

* Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz's main wish for the biggie, the battle between No. 1 Florida State and the No. 2 Irish Saturday (1 p.m., NBC) is relatively simple: "Perfect weather: the low teens and snowy."

* Tubby Raymond has been coaching Delaware football teams for 28 years and the record says he has done yeoman work. But maybe he should take some time off, not only to recharge his battery but to reclaim some lost perspective.

Raymond did a grotesque coaching job while losing to Towson State, 32-30, in a thriller last Saturday, then attempted to deflect any blame by taking off after the officials. He accompanied his diatribe with the inevitable, "It's the first time in 28 years I've criticized officials publicly," which suggests that his complaints must have been justified because he never beefs, right?

Actually, it's a ridiculous statement, saying he never yelped about the calls during a 300-game career. Tubby tinkered with a winning combination and further exacerbated a quarterback controversy, not to mention taking his team out of postseason play with the loss. It was a tough day, to be sure, but one any man working in the profession for the past four decades should have handled with ease.

* The 24th New York City Marathon Sunday is giving every indication of being an intrasquad tussle among Mexico's potent gang of distance runners with a gent all but foreign to the event a good bet to check in first at Tavern On The Green in Central Park.

There's no question Arturo Barrios is one of the best middle distance runners in history, his record of 27:08 in the 10,000-meters standing for four years as example. And, traditionally, world class competitors jumping into the marathon for a first time do very well.

Adding to the claim that Barrios will win, predicted by many, is the fact Arturo actually has a 26-miler under his belt, although his mind-set is that this is his first one. He ran the Boston Marathon a few years back, not fully intending an all-out effort, and finished fifth in an eased-up 2:14.

Barrios' main rivals figure to be teammates Salvador Garcia, who has won and finished second in the Big Apple, and Andres Espinosa, who has two seconds in the five-borough romp. Perhaps the best American hope is Don Janicki.

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