CFL clock is running on lease

January 13, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer Staff writer Ken Rosenthal contributed to this story.

The clock is running on Jim Speros' bid to put a Canadian Football League team in Memorial Stadium next summer. Can the Potomac, Md., native wait for a lease until the Maryland Stadium Authority's 60-day NFL reprieve expires in mid-February?

The answer from the CFL yesterday was no.

"There is no date written down anywhere in the league constitution," said John Tory, chairman of the CFL board of governors. "But the practicalities are such that we can't afford to have it go much beyond the end of January. . . . The league has training camp in June. We've got to set a schedule for TV purposes. Teams will be selling season tickets in the next three, four weeks, and they want to know what tickets they're selling to what games.

"There are stadium arrangements. There are 10 other teams that obviously have to make all arrangements. We can't have any one of them say we'll be ready in three months."

Gov. William Donald Schaefer, trying to win an NFL team for Baltimore, said Tuesday night he thought Speros' group was pressuring Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to get a lease before there was an NFL decision.

Speros, co-founder of Champions Development Corp. in Virginia, said he was innocent of charges he has pressured Schmoke.

"I don't think I've been putting pressure on," he said. "We've been working to fulfill our requirements to get a lease put together. We've got to play football six months from now. We've got to field a team. We can't wait any longer. It's not fair to the community, not fair to the fans, if no football is coming here in '94."

Bill Cunningham, city councilman for the 3rd District, said he would recommend to Schmoke to proceed with CFL talks.

"My principal concern is with the neighborhood," Cunningham said. "I don't think we're going to get an NFL team. I don't see any evidence of that. I think we should move forward with Jim Speros, continue to negotiate and give ourselves that time."

Although Speros has said his home games would not conflict with Orioles games in late summer, Orioles owner Peter Angelos sounded dubious at best when asked about the impact the CFL might have on his team.

"I don't have a position on that right now," Angelos said. "I have a concern that if the CFL comes, getting an NFL franchise would be out of the question. That is unacceptable. We would be foreclosed for now and probably in the distant future. I don't think we want to do that."

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