Raiders' next home a mystery that means drama for fans, opponents

PRO FOOTBALL

May 22, 1994|By VITO STELLINO

This is the time of the year that NFL teams work on logistics for the fall season, when they set up the charter flights and hotel reservations for their road games.

There are eight teams, though, that can't finalize their arrangements. They're the teams that play at the Los Angeles Raiders this year.

The Raiders still haven't told them where those games will be played. They also haven't sent out season-ticket applications. The first home game is Sept. 11 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Raiders will play their four preseason games on the road.

With the owners set for their annual May meeting in Miami this week, they're hoping that owner Al Davis will let them know where his home will be this fall.

Davis isn't commenting, but the best guess is that regardless of where he plays, he will sign only a one-year lease. With the Los Angeles Rams sounding more and more like they really plan to leave at the end of the year, Davis wants to keep his long-term options open.

The easiest thing for him to do would be to play one more year at the Los Angeles Coliseum. But he doesn't seem convinced the earthquake damage will be repaired by the start of the season.

His fallback position is to go back to the Oakland Coliseum for one year. Alameda County Supervisor Don Perata said he has had talks with the Raiders about a one-year deal. Jack Brooks, one of Davis' partners, has confirmed that discussions were held.

Perata expects a decision soon. "They are getting to the fail-safe point beyond which they can no longer go. They have to send out season tickets," he said.

The odds are that the Raiders will be in Los Angeles this fall. The long delay, though, could have a negative impact on the club's season-ticket sales.

The first steps

Peter Angelos, owner of the Orioles, has been busy sending messages recently that he's determined to lure an NFL team to Baltimore.

In a meeting with owner Jack Kent Cooke of the Washington Redskins, he made it clear he won't let Cooke intimidate him or stop his effort. Cooke was none too thrilled with that message, but Angelos doesn't care.

He doesn't plan to meet with Cooke again (it looks like there will be no invitations for Angelos to join Joe De Francis in Cooke's box at RFK Stadium) unless it's in court.

After his first meeting a week ago with Georgia Frontiere, owner of the Los Angeles Rams, Angelos was upbeat.

xTC "I'm very sincere about this," he said. "I thought we got along great and she was very nice to us."

Angelos plans more meetings with Frontiere to try to show her the advantages of a move to Baltimore. He'll also assure her not to worry about Cooke. He certainly isn't worrying about him.

Realignment

The major item on the agenda at the owners meeting in Miami this week will be the various realignment proposals for 1995, when the two expansion teams join the league.

Don't be surprised if they can't reach an agreement, because some of the plans have Seattle switching from the AFC to the NFC West and Minnesota moving out of the NFC Central to the NFC West.

Seattle and Minnesota want to stay put and need only eight votes to block a switch.

The new owner

The man who isn't Norman Braman got a warm reception in Philadelphia last week.

Jeffrey Lurie, new owner of the Eagles, was welcomed at City Hall with an invitation-only crowd of about 1,000 joining in the festivities. There were 250 season-ticket holders on the guest list.

Although Braman is popular in Baltimore because he was the only owner to back the city's expansion bid, reaching out to the fans of Philadelphia wasn't his strong suit.

Lurie even said it was a plus that Philadelphia was recently labeled a hostile city.

"It shows some life," he said. "It shows some passion. I think that's why it's such a great football city."

He promised Super Bowl championships. That's right. More than one.

Now all Lurie has to do to keep the fans happy is deliver on his promises.

The legal file

The NFL lawyers are billing a lot of hours these days arguing both sides of the same copyright debate.

On one side, they're arguing against Baltimore's Canadian Football League team using the nickname "CFL Colts."

On the other side, they're arguing that there's nothing wrong with the Jacksonville Jaguars using a leaping cat logo.

Jaguar Cars Ltd. has filed a trademark infringement suit against the NFL, claiming the Jacksonville Jaguars' logo design violates federal trademark laws because it is too similar to that of the car company.

What's hard to understand is how the car company thinks it's being damaged by the football team using the logo and why the NFL thinks the "CFL Colts" nickname is doing it any harm.

If nothing else, the Jaguar suit is giving the car company some publicity. All the NFL is doing is giving the Baltimore team some notice.

One NFL owner said he's going to ask at the meetings this week how much money the NFL is spending on its lawsuit against the "CFL Colts" nickname. Whatever the total is, the money is being wasted. Even if the NFL wins the suit, it's just bringing attention to the fact that the CFL now has a team in Baltimore.

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