State-NFL conspiracy alleged Speros accuses officials of misconduct, betrayal

June 14, 1996|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Alleging that Maryland officials and the NFL conspired to betray him, Baltimore Stallions owner Jim Speros sent his lawyer into federal court yesterday and said he will continue battling to keep his lease on Memorial Stadium.

Speros, who bitterly moved his football team to Montreal after Art Modell's NFL franchise agreed to come to Baltimore, claims in court papers that Maryland offi cials engaged in "unfulfilled promises, misconduct [and] illegal and conspiratorial acts" to bring in a new team.

City officials have filed papers aiming to terminate Speros' lease on the stadium and force his eviction. But Speros has refused to relinquish his lease and yesterday asked a federal judge to remove the rent dispute from state court to federal court. His attorney, Richard D. Heideman, said that the eviction proceedings and other actions by state officials represent federal anti-trust violations.

"There was an organized effort made to bring the Cleveland Browns in, and to literally push the Stallions out the door," Heideman told Baltimore U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson. "This was all designed to put the Stallions out of business, out of Memorial Stadium, and out of the professional football market in Baltimore."

Heideman contended that secret negotiations between Modell and Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening were designed to "provide unfair economic advantage to Art Modell with the NFL waiting in the wings to watch [the Stallions'] eviction so they might advantage themselves upon the spoils."

Judge Nickerson declined to move the rent dispute out of state court and into the federal arena. A hearing will be held in Baltimore Circuit Court today to decide whether Speros is obligated to pay more than $70,000 in back rent on the stadium and whether he should face eviction proceedings, said Michael G. Raimondi, a city solicitor.

Pub Date: 6/14/96

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