Huizenga's sales talks could buy Angelos hope

March 22, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

ORLANDO, FLA — ORLANDO, Fla. -- Will H. Wayne Huizenga open the door to the NFL for Peter G. Angelos?

That could turn out to be a result of the attempt by Huizenga, the owner of the Florida Panthers and Marlins, to buy the Miami Dolphins from the Robbie family.

To approve the sale of the Dolphins to Huizenga, the NFL owners must pass resolution G-3, which would allow an owner to own more than one major-league team in the same city. NFL owners currently aren't allowed to own teams in other sports.

It just happens that the team sponsoring the resolution is the Los Angeles Rams.

Now, why would the Rams have an interest in cross-ownership?

"Don't jump to any conclusions," said John Shaw, the Rams' executive vice president. "It has nothing to do with Peter Angelos."

Shaw hadn't even been asked about Angelos, but he understands that passing the resolution will just increase speculation that the new policy would make it easier for the Orioles owner to purchase at least a piece of the Rams if they move to Baltimore next year.

The Orioles owner has been charged by Gov. William Donald Schaefer with the task of getting an NFL team to move to Baltimore and reportedly has had talks with the Rams.

Shaw said, on the advice of his attorney, he would make no comments about a possible Rams move.

But he did say that the Rams still plan to give the city of Anaheim, Calif., 15 months' notice on May 3, which would allow them to play in another city in the fall of 1995.

According to one source, the Rams are attempting to downplay any talk of a move because they have to play the 1994 season in Anaheim.

The source said the Rams could make $15 million more than they do in Anaheim by moving, although owner Georgia Frontiere still is reluctant to actually move the team.

While Frontiere doesn't seem interested in selling majority interest at this time, she might sell a minority interest if she decides to move.

Meanwhile, the cross-ownership issue is still a matter of much debate among the NFL owners.

They started discussing it yesterday when the annual meeting opened, but the owners didn't just rubber-stamp Huizenga's proposed purchase of the Dolphins for $138 million. He already owns 15 percent of the team and 50 percent of Joe Robbie Stadium.

There were no votes taken, but each club gave its opinion.

Several old-line owners such as Ralph Wilson of the Buffalo Bills, Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Wellington Mara of the New York Giants oppose the idea. They want football owners to stick to football.

The owners know, though, that they could face a lawsuit if they turn down the Huizenga sale.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the owners "ran out of time" yesterday and will resume debate on the matter this morning.

Tim Robbie, who's trying to sell the team, said, "I don't think anything happened that indicated this thing isn't still on track."

The Rams' resolution to allow owners to own more than one team would allow the owner to, they said, "achieve efficiencies associated with ownership and operation of multiple sports franchises in a single local market, subject to suitable conditions established by the commissioner and the Finance Committee."

Even if the resolution passes, it doesn't mean Angelos would have an easy time getting a team for Baltimore while he still owns the Orioles.

He'd still have to overcome the opposition of Tagliabue and Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.

As usual, Cooke isn't attending the meeting, but his son, John Kent Cooke, who is representing the team here, repeated his father's contention yesterday that Maryland can't support two teams if the Redskins build a stadium in Laurel.

Angelos also reportedly has made a bid of $200 million to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a source close to the team repeated the team's position that because of tax problems, owner Hugh Culverhouse Sr. doesn't want to sell while he's alive.

Culverhouse, who is ill with cancer and is not attending the meeting, has set up a trust to sell the team when he dies. A source also said that Angelos' offer actually was more than $200 million.

The other team that could be interested in moving is the Los Angeles Raiders, but owner Al Davis doesn't want to sell a piece of the team.

Davis, who often holds a news conference during the meetings, said he may conduct one Thursday.

NOTES: The talks continued yesterday between the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons about quarterback Jeff George. . . . Tagliabue noted the league has given the Redskins the green light to use premium-seat revenue to help finance their proposed new stadium in Laurel.

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