Bucs narrow search for buyer to three

January 11, 1995|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Sun Staff Writer

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have narrowed their search for a new owner to three investors -- two of whom, including Orioles owner Peter Angelos, may be trying to bring the team to Baltimore -- and may ask them all to put down a multimillion-dollar deposit to continue talks.

The NFL team said it is in active negotiations with a group led by Angelos, Florida-based financier Malcolm Glazer and a group represented by Baltimore attorney Robert B. Schulman.

Angelos says he would move the team to Baltimore, Glazer says he would keep it in Tampa and Schulman has not said what his investors would do, although he has led several efforts to bring a team to Baltimore during the past year.

"We have not, however, closed the door on accepting additional offers," said Steve Story, one of three trustees operating the Bucs as part of the estate of late owner Hugh Culverhouse. "As we have stated previously, it is our intent to have a resolution to this situation in the very near future."

Story, in a written statement, described the three groups as having submitted "qualified, written offers."

On Monday the trustees rejected a bid from a group of Tampa-area businessmen who said they would keep the team there and offered $163 million.

The trustees have said they likely would ask the bidders -- possibly today -- for a refundable deposit of $5 million to $10 million as a demonstration of financial wherewithal, according to an NFL source.

Several sources said it appears the trustees are focusing their efforts on the bids of Angelos and Glazer, who once led an effort to secure a Baltimore expansion franchise. But the trustees have concerns with all the bids, and could chose to keep the team another year, according to one source.

"I just don't think they are going to sell the thing," said the source, who is not affiliated with any of the bidders. Bidders, however, say they have received the opposite impression from the trustees.

Glazer's bid is worth about $192 million, but the trustees have questions about the financing plan and Glazer's track record of exploring but not closing team purchases, the source said. Glazer did not return phone calls yesterday.

Angelos' bid contains contingencies that, along with doubts the NFL would approve him or the relocation of the team, have the trustees skittish, the source said. Angelos has offered $205 million for the team if it can be moved to Baltimore and promised at least $170 million if it cannot, sources said.

Angelos' group includes Maryland-based novelist Tom Clancy, Baltimore developer Willard Hackerman and others, the source said. Angelos declined to comment.

The trustees reportedly are concerned with NFL rules that prohibit the owner of another major-league sports franchise from also owning an NFL team. Angelos has said he would seek tentative approval, similar to what the league granted Wayne Huizenga, owner of baseball's Florida Marlins, hockey's Florida Panthers and football's Miami Dolphins, while the NFL reviews its ownership policy.

If necessary, however, Angelos has said he would allow another investor to head the effort.

Schulman, who is working with Jacksonville, Fla.-based attorney Terry Moore, said yesterday, "We did submit something to them." He said it was not a formal bid.

Moore told the St. Petersburg Times yesterday that the various offers contain different language and liabilities and that the trustees are reducing them all to a format in which they can be compared.

As he has done in past bids for the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, Schulman declined to reveal his investors -- something that has led others to question the credibility of the group.

But Schulman said: "The right people know who they are."

Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, a Baltimore native who once headed a group trying to bring an expansion franchise to Baltimore, said he was approached, but declined to join.

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