NFL's Bucs are up for sale

November 10, 1994|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Sun Staff Writer

In a move that could revive Baltimore's hopes of rejoining the NFL, officials of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced this morning that the team is for sale.

A written statement by Stephen F. Story, head of a trust operating the team on behalf of the heirs of its deceased owner, said "circumstances have changed" since he announced two months ago that the team was not for sale.

"We are in a position now where we'll explore legitimate offers to buy the Buccaneers . . . including from groups who have previously expressed interest," Mr. Story said.

Prominent among those potential investors is Peter Angelos, a local attorney and majority owner of the Orioles who is leading the city's effort to return Baltimore to the NFL. He offered $200 million for the team earlier in the year but was rebuffed by the owner, Hugh Culverhouse, who was then ill with cancer.

Mr. Culverhouse died Aug. 25 and the team, along with the rest of an estate estimated at $360 million, has been in the hands of a three-person trust made up of former Culverhouse associates.

The trust was ordered to operate the team for the benefit of Culverhouse's widow, Joy Culverhouse.

But she and her son, Hugh Culverhouse Jr., have taken legal action against the trust in recent weeks. She claims she was pressured into a property settlement with her husband prior to his death, and the son claims he was slandered when Mr. Story posted a sign barring him from entering a condominium owned by his late father.

The disputes apparently have prompted the trustees to go public with what had been an open secret within the NFL: that the team would be sold and the money distributed to the Culverhouse heirs.

Most observers have speculated that the team would go on sale at the end of the season to avoid disrupting the on-field operation of the franchise, one of the most profitable, but poorest performing teams in the NFL.

Mr. Story said today that "all things being equal" the group would seek to sell the team to someone willing to keep it in Tampa Bay, where it has been since it was established in 1974.

Mr. Angelos, who is also bidding to buy the Los Angeles Rams and has made an offer for part of the Los Angeles Raiders, was unavailable for comment this morning.

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