Cleveland, NFL deny agreement TV reports far off base, Mayor White declares

February 03, 1996|By Jon Morgan

Television news reports in Cleveland yesterday said city officials and the NFL had reached an agreement on the parameters of a deal to settle lawsuits stemming from the Browns' proposed move to Baltimore. The reports were promptly denied by the league and city.

"I can unequivocally state that there is no agreement with the Browns," Cleveland Mayor Michael White said in a hastily arranged news conference.

The television reports said the two sides had agreed to a plan under which the city would build a new stadium and drop its suit against the Browns. In exchange, the team would pay $3 million in legal fees and lost rent and the league would provide a $30 million loan to help build the stadium and promise a team in the city in three years.

The two sides were meeting or talking daily and have narrowed some options, according to sources familiar with the talks. The city has agreed to talk about options short of keeping the Browns, such as a relocated franchise or a resolution promising a team to the city, sources said.

Other sources predicted the talks will continue until the NFL owners' meetings in Chicago that begin Thursday. Team owners are scheduled to vote Friday on the Browns' move.

A spokeswoman for Mayor White said there still are some difficult issues on the table. An NFL spokesman said talks were under way but no resolution had been found.

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