An attorney for a Baltimore group trying to purchase the New England Patriots said he believes the investors have survived an initial cut of bidders.
"All they told me is that some people have been dropped," said Robert Schulman, a Baltimore-based attorney representing a group whose members remain a tightly guarded secret.
The group has approached four teams about purchasing all or part of the franchise, including the Patriots, Schulman said. He would not disclose the other three teams they have approached, but they are believed to be the Los Angeles Raiders, Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The only team publicly seeking a buyer is the Patriots, who are owned by James Busch Orthwein, a St. Louis businessman who once led that city's expansion effort.
Patriots bids were due at the end of last year, and at least one other locally connected group is known to have filed a bid: Maryland-based novelist Tom Clancy is heading an investment group that includes Hall of Famer Walter Payton and actors Tom Selleck and Paul Newman.
If his group gets the team, Clancy, part owner of the Orioles, intends to move the Patriots to Hartford, Conn.
Schulman would not comment on his group's plans for the team, although Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said he believes the group intends to move the team to Baltimore.
"I think that, given the local group's bid on the Patriots, that there is a strong possibility" of luring an NFL team to town, said Schmoke, who has delayed signing any lease with the Canadian Football League for another month. "Apparently they are still in the running."