Cleveland's White hopes Baltimore successful, too Mayor says both cities deserve NFL franchises

January 05, 1996|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- Cleveland Mayor Michael White said he hopes his city and Baltimore end up with teams when the dust settles from the proposed move of the Browns.

"I think the people of Baltimore feel for the people of Cleveland and the people of Cleveland feel for the people of Baltimore," White said yesterday in a brief interview with The Sun.

White, who has mounted a spirited national campaign to keep the Browns and cast team owner Art Modell as a villain, said he is open to alternative solutions.

"Clearly, Art Modell returning with the Browns would not be the best resolution," White said.

However, he said, "If the NFL returned a team with our colors and name and Art Modell, I will stand up and say 'This is a small price to pay.' "

Repeating a mantra he has adopted in recent weeks, White said, "We want our team, our name and our colors." But he declined to rule in or out the possibility of another team moving to his city and adopting the Browns' name and uniforms.

"Personally, if there is a resolution that would assure both cities teams, that would be the best result," said White, a personal friend of Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

He said there have been no talks with the team about settling the city's lawsuit, which seeks to force the Browns to play the final three years of their lease at the city-owned Cleveland Stadium. Neither has he or his representatives spoken with teams in other cities about moving, he said.

White ruled out another solution that some NFL owners have suggested: allowing the Browns to move, with the NFL passing a resolution promising Cleveland another team later, possibly when funds are raised for a new stadium.

"That is DOA," he said.

He said the city may consider building a new stadium, either at the site of the current building or elsewhere in the city, but won't pledge more than the budgeted $175 million in public funds.

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