Prospective NFL franchise owner Peter Angelos held a three-hour meeting yesterday with the trustees selling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a session Angelos described as "very positive" but team officials downplayed it as one of a dozen or so introductory exchanges they expect to hold with interested bidders.
"It went very well. It was strictly a preliminary meeting but it was very positive and we have a better understanding of their needs," Angelos said.
The meeting was held in Orlando, Fla., to avoid reporters, Angelos said. He said he and his attorney, George Stamas, had dinner Thursday night with Bucs trustees and met for almost three hours yesterday morning.
Although Stamas has been in contact with the trustees, this week's sessions were the first face-to-face meetings Angelos has had with Buccaneers officials.
"It was very personable, very cordial and very friendly," Angelos said. "I expect to be in touch with them in a relatively short period of time."
Angelos, managing partner of the Orioles, is seeking to buy the Buccaneers and move them to Baltimore.
Earlier in the year he offered an estimated $200 million for the team if it were moved to Baltimore, and less if it remained in Tampa Bay and he had to move it. Talks have been continuing for months.
Angelos declined to disclose the specifics of his discussions yesterday, as did team officials.
In a written statement, Bucs trustee Steve Story said, "It's important to note that we view this as just another meeting."
Story said he and Jack Donlan, another member of the three-person board of trustees brokering the team on behalf of the estate of its recently deceased owner, Hugh Culverhouse, met with Angelos and Stamas.
"Mr. Angelos expressed an interest in the Buccaneers but did not make an offer at this time. We told him we would be back in touch once we get through our initial round of discussions with prospective purchasers," Story said.
The meeting was "very similar" to 10 to 15 introductory meetings the trustees anticipate having with interested bidders, he said.
A number of Tampa-area bidders, including Tampa resident and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, have inquired about the team, as has a group interested in moving the team to St. Louis.
The franchise, which Culverhouse purchased for $16 million in 1974 and is estimated to be worth at least $142 million now, was officially placed on sale last week.
Meanwhile, Angelos also has been in touch with the Los Angeles Rams and Raiders about a move to Baltimore.