Angelos submits Bucs bid

January 09, 1995|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Sun Staff Writer

An investment group led by Orioles controlling partner Peter Angelos offered more than $200 million yesterday for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the intention of moving the NFL franchise to Baltimore.

Details of the offer were not immediately available, but a source familiar with the bid said it was worth more than the $200 million that Mr. Angelos offered last year before the team's owner died.

In last year's offer, Mr. Angelos bid $200 million if the team could be moved to Baltimore and less if it could not and he was forced to base the team in outdated Tampa Stadium. The bid submitted yesterday contained some of the same provisions, according to the source.

Late last night, Mr. Angelos declined to comment on the report. In recent days, Mr. Angelos has refused to say even if he would make a bid.

Although there is no set deadline for bids, the only formal offer previously made for the team expires at 5 p.m. today, and reports from Florida indicated that the team may be inclined to accept that offer.

The St. Petersburg Times reported yesterday that the trustees in charge of the Buccaneers intend to sell the team to a group led by Tom Shannon, a Tampa developer, unless a substantially higher offer emerged today from someone willing to keep the team local.

The newspaper, without citing any sources, said the trustees have discounted a bid from Mr. Angelos out of concerns that the NFL would not approve the Bucs' relocation.

The paper also said Bucs trustee Steve Story has served on a corporate board with Mr. Shannon and several of his group's investors, suggesting they have an "inside track."

However, Mr. Angelos has said all along that he can offer more because the team would be more profitable in a new stadium in Baltimore than in Tampa Stadium. And the trustees have a fiduciary duty to strike the best deal, although they can consider the likelihood of Mr. Angelos' being accepted by the NFL.

The bid by Mr. Shannon and his group, which includes Outback Steakhouse executives, is estimated at $145 million to $164 million.

Another Baltimore attorney interested in the Bucs, Robert B. Schulman, said yesterday that his group probably would not bid today but did not believe there was a deadline.

"We're still mulling over the information given to us. When we are ready, we will make a decision and not be driven by some artificial deadline," Mr. Schulman said.

He has declined to say who is in his group or what they would do if they were able to purchase the team. But Mr. Schulman has been part of several efforts to buy teams and bring them to Baltimore, including bids for the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.

New York Yankees owner and Tampa resident George Steinbrenner won't say what he will do, although he expressed satisfaction with the Shannon group and reports that the team most likely would stay in town.

"Everyone is eliminating Peter Angelos. I do not. I know the guy. I know his people. They are not just talkers. I'm not ruling out the Angelos offer," Mr. Steinbrenner told the St. Petersburg Times yesterday.

Mr. Angelos' offer would set a record for a sports franchise. The Philadelphia Eagles last year were sold for $185 million, beating the previous record: $173 million paid for the Orioles in 1993 by a group led by Mr. Angelos. Mr. Angelos can pay that much because Maryland has approved public funding for a new, $165 million stadium to be built next to Oriole Park. Equipped with the latest in fan amenities and leased on generous terms, it easily would exceed the revenue potential of 27-year-old Tampa Stadium.

"It is an economically justifiable number, provided the team stays in Baltimore," said Paul Much, a sports finance specialist with Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin.

The number could help boost the value of other NFL franchises and should be appealing to owners if they are called upon to vote on a relocation, Mr. Much said. "As business people, they are going to sit up and take notice," he said.

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