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In his most direct statement to date, Orioles Owner Peter Angelos called the Buccaneers "eminently moveable" and that his offer of $200M for the team is still on the table. Angelos made these comments in an interview in this morning's ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. Angelos cited the 35,000 in attendance at last Sunday's Bucs/Rams game: "That simply isn't enough fan support to justify, it seems to me, the retention of an NFL franchise in a given metropolitan area." Regarding his offer of $200M last August for the Bucs, Angelos said "one can logically assume that that is a number that's available since nothing has drastically changed with regard to the need for a franchise in Baltimore." He also discounted reports the NFL would interfere if he tried to move the team. Angelos: "Why should we have a battle (with the NFL)? We will guarantee 70,000 people will attend each game. All the sky boxes are sold. All the premium seats are sold. ... and every team that comes to Baltimore will go home with at least a $1 million check" (Topkin/Stroud/ Testerman, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/15). Angelos, on statements by Bucs trust member Steve Story that no offers have been made for the team: "We have not withdrawn the proposal that was made to the Culverhouse representatives" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 12/15). TOUGH COMPETITION: Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner "confirmed" last night that former Chrysler Chair Lee Iacocca and Twins Owner Carl Pohlad are "prospective buyers" in his group pursuing the Bucs (Topkin/Stroud/Testerman, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/15).
The NBA has "approached" the Raptors about possibly hosting the NBA All-Star Game in '97 or '98. But team President John Bitove said the franchise will not submit a bid, "at least for the time being," instead focusing on their season-ticket drive and the completion of negotiations for an arena site. Bitove did not rule out considering an all-star offer at a later date, adding that hosting an All-Star Game is "something we would like to do sooner rather than later." The NBA has a history of awarding an all-star game to expansion franchises as a way of bringing attention to the new team, and the league has already approached the Vancouver Grizzlies about hosting the game in '99 (Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN, 12/15). RAPTORS, RAPTORS EVERYWHERE: Mike Davenport, president of the Sports Organizing Committee in Pinellas County, FL, said he is working on a deal to bring the Raptors to St. Petersburg for training camp at the ThunderDome. Davenport hopes to have an agreement with the team within a few months (Paul Abercrombie, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/15).
The group representing Orlando's bid for an expansion franchise made their presentation to MLB's Expansion Committee yesterday. Prospective Owner Norton Herrick said "everything went perfect," adding he believed Orlando had a better chance to land a team than St. Petersburg because "We've got a stronger market, a better stadium, a better leadership group." The first part of the presentation by Orlando officials focused "on community, business and government support as well as the growth potential for the area." Later, Herrick and his investors discussed finances with the group. Stanton Cook, the Cubs' Chair and a member of the committee, said the group did a "good job and made an excellent presentation." The league still has not made an official announcement that it will expand, but Phillies Owner Bill Giles said a vote by the owners "will probably be taken in January" (Bill Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/15).