NFL team should be moved in by April 2 Even a parquet floor is Baltimore-bound

March 19, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Within two weeks, thousands of boxes and nearly a million pounds of equipment and furniture will have been moved, including the floor in the owner's office and an outdoor guardhouse. The city of Berea, Ohio, will be a memory, and Owings Mills will become home.

If all continues as planned, Baltimore's new football team will be moved in by April 1 or April 2.

"The schedule is always subject to change, but right now we're on it," said Bob Eller, the team's director of operations and information. "We'd like to be up and running on those dates."

Actually, the team has made tremendous strides in the past two weeks to meet that schedule. Members of the front office were in Baltimore this past weekend, and met with the O'Conor, Piper & Flynn Realtors, Von Paris Moving & Storage and Melanie Sabelhaus, president of Exclusive Interim Properties, which specializes in short-term housing.

Sabelhaus is expected to meet with players today in Cleveland.

"We've spoken with quite a few of the players, and we expect many to visit here shortly," said Sabelhaus. "A lot of the coaches and front-office people are looking for permanent housing, but -- most of the players are into the short-term deal."

The moving process began several weeks ago when the former Cleveland Browns organization accepted bids from at least four Baltimore moving companies, including Mayflower, Bekins, Ace and Von Paris.

Bekins bid as low as $140,000 and Ace as much as $260,000, according to representatives from both companies. Officials from Von Paris and Mayflower declined to comment on their offers, and Mayflower denied speculation that it was prepared to move the club for free.

It was Mayflower of Indianapolis that moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis 12 years ago.

"Till this day, we still hear about Mayflower moving the Colts," said John Hott, manager of the Baltimore company. "We would have loved to move them for free, but we couldn't have. We're a small company. We were hoping Mayflower would back us with its national fleet, but a year ago we changed ownership.

"If the previous ownership was still in place, I think we would have gotten the move, because they understood what happened here," he said.

Von Paris may have gotten the backing of its national headquarters, and the company also has a national reputation. Von Paris has moved the Orioles, Brooks and Frank Robinson, and the archives of presidents Bush and Reagan. Von Paris even moved the slippers worn by Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz."

Salesman Tony Diehl said the former Browns have some odd items to move, including the parquet floor in owner Art Modell's ++ office, the tarp surrounding the practice fields, a small wooden guardhouse and lights at the top of the team's indoor practice facility.

Von Paris vice president John Von Paris said it will take nearly 6,000 boxes, 25 men and 30 tractor-trailer loads to move the team to Baltimore. The team has 10,000 to 15,000 pounds alone in free weights for training.

"We are honored to be involved with a part of history, but this is a challenging task," said Von Paris, who estimates 37 families will move to Baltimore with the team.

Von Paris was one of the local officials to have met with the front-office staff this past weekend. Another one was Jim Piper, 62, president of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn, whose group chartered buses and gave tours of Baltimore city and portions of Baltimore, Carroll and Howard counties.

"From early indications, a lot of them are looking to stay in or within 20 minutes of the Owings Mills area because it's near the training facility," said Piper.

Said Kevin Byrne, a team vice president: "We got a chance to look at Federal Hill and Camden Yards, where the new stadium will be built. It was a nice tour, a chance for us to see Baltimore for the first time."

Name update

Officials of Baltimore's NFL team will meet again tomorrow to discuss a nickname, but owner Art Modell said it's unlikely the final decision will be made then.

"We're going to try to boil this down," Modell said yesterday. "We want to move as rapidly as we can. It should be a matter of days, or a week at the most."

Among the finalists are Mustangs, Ravens, Railers, Marauders and Americans.

Pub Date: 3/19/96

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